2018 BMW M2
For as long as BMW has been building a car slotted beneath the 3 Series, BMW enthusiasts have been clamoring for an M version. When the 1 Series finally got that treatment for the outgoing generation, fans rejoiced. Its limited production run made it an easy-to-love but hard-to-find halo model for the compact BMW lineup.
Since, the BMW faithful have been champing at the bit for a new model below the M3/M4. When the 2 Series replaced the 1, the critical success of the baby M seemed to all but guarantee a successor. The compact model occupies the same segment that the 3 Series once did, making a series-production M variant something of a product planning inevitability.
More than just a 2 Series
The M2 badge is as new as the car. For reasons that are only of interest to BMW enthusiasts, the M2's predecessor wasn't an M-anything, but rather the "1 Series M Coupe." With no such barriers preventing the christening of the 2 Series's high-performance variant, the M2 nameplate was born.
If you're not familiar with BMW's recent naming conventions, even-numbered M variants refer to two-door models and odds refer to four-doors--M3 Sedan vs. M4 Coupe, for example. As such, the M2 is a 2+2, measuring just over 176" in length and weighing in between 3,450 and 3,500lbs depending on configuration (According to BMW's published figures, it's the inclusion of the manual transmission that pushes it past the 3,500lb mark).
Visually, the M2 takes the M235i's exterior aggression and dials it up a notch or two. The lower grille and fog light surrounds get a more angular treatment, but the front end is otherwise almost indiscernible from that of its less-sporty sibling.
The profile changes are more extensive. Where the 2 Series normally boasts a protruding character line that runs from the trailing edge of the front fender all the way to the tail lights, that bulge encounters the M2's punched-out rear fender before it can make it that far. This serves to exaggerate the M2's hips, and betrays the wider rear track and makes room for the 10-inch-wide rear wheels.
The more obvious changes continue in the rear. The most stand-out feature here is a set of four exhaust tips, protruding in matched pairs on either side. The rear reflectors are vertical on the M2 (they're horizontal elsewhere in the 2 Series lineup) and the trunk is finished with a subtle lip spoiler. On the base 2 Series, the character line would wrap around the rear and form the trailing edge of the decklid. Here, a beveled edge sets off the wide fenders from the rest of the rear end.
The aesthetic upgrades abound inside as well. Like the exterior, the coupe's interior doesn't go over-the-top, but there's no mistaking this for the cabin of a BMW performance car.
The M2's interior is adorned "M" badges and M-themed accouterments just about everywhere from the steering wheel to the shift knob, the seat back cushions and the door sills. The wheel is prominently branded with an "M" logo at its base and also boasting tricolor M-themed stitching along the inside of the rim.
The seats are an upgrade to those in the M235i outside of their "M" logos and M-blue contrast stitching thanks to additional support and more extensive shoulder and thigh bolstering. Contrast interior stitching is found just about everywhere you see leather in the M2's interior, with the exception of the parking brake handle. The brake lever boot, however, gets the contrast treatment.
Elsewhere in the cabin, you'll find all the usual go-fast interior dress-up, including extensive use of carbon fiber trim and the occasional suede or Alcantara insert.
As is the trend these days, BMW's infotainment system sits atop the dash with a hide-away-style display mated to BMW's long-enduring iDrive controller. The infotainment suite includes the usual goodies found in premium/luxury performance cars, including navigation, integrated apps (including the GoPro app for control of your cameras and accessories) and various status screens for the car's vital systems. The driver can also customize the M2's driving modes to a degree, though it lacks the level of individualization available from Audi's drive select.
Where it matters
Fundamentally, the M2 may still be a 2 Series, but it also borrows from its larger siblings. It features a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link setup in the rear (largely stolen from the M3/M4). In addition to the aforementioned wider track, the M2 sports wider wheels (19x9s on the front, 19x10s in the rear); correspondingly wider Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (245/35 ZR19s in front, 265/35 ZR19s out back); along with up-sized brakes featuring four-piston front calipers, two-piston rear calipers and a track-oriented (and Nürburgring-tested) pad compound.
Under the hood, the wick has been turned up on BMW's TwinPower inline-six. The 3.0L unit makes 365 horsepower at 6,500 RPM and 343lb-ft of torque from 1,400-5,560 RPM. An overboost function thickens up the midrange a bit, adding 26lb-ft to the peak torque figure between 1,450 and 4,750 RPM.
BMW pairs the TwinPower six-cylinder to two transmissions. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual. For those who prefer absolute performance to a more engaging drive, a seven-speed M-DCT twin-clutch transmission is also available. For those who choose to row their own, BMW claims a 0-60 sprint will take 4.4 seconds. Upgrading to the M-DCT unit knocks two-tenths off that figure, and the M2's standard launch control feature will make sure it happens every time.
No matter which transmission choice you make, BMW throws in its "Active M Differential," which is an electronically-controlled multi-plate limited slip unit integrated with the M2's chassis management module to deliver optimal lock-up under all conditions.
Features and Options
Compared to many luxury models, the M2 is fairly light on option packages. Fortunately, BMW makes up for that by including a robust suite of standard equipment. The one noteworthy omission from the option sheet is the availability of a moonroof.
Standard interior features include Dakota Leather seating surfaces, powered and heated front sport seats with lumbar adjustment, carbon fiber trim, an auto-dimming mirror, dynamic cruise control, ambient lighting, a harmon/kardon premium audio system with AM/FM/MP3/USB and Bluetooth support and advanced smartphone integration, navigation with real-time traffic and a suite of integrated applications.
Outside, you'll find LED headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, "shadowline” exterior trim (deleting chrome elements from the 2 Series) and rain-sensing wipers.
The Executive package adds a handful of luxury features, including a heated steering wheel, a wireless charger, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a rear-view camera, rear parking distance control, automatic high beams, Active Driving Assistant and camera-enabled speed limit information.
Stand-alone options include the M Double-Clutch Transmission and several metallic paint choices.
Like all other 2-Series models, the M2 is fitted as standard with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. Since it if offers very few packages, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system, blind zone alert and automatic collision notification are also included at no additional charge.
The M2 operates in a fairly niche segment. In the luxury segment, it competes with the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and Audi's RS3. But for buyers who care more about performance bang-for-the-buck, cross-shopping may lead them to compare with the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, the Chevrolet Corvette, the Audi TT RS and the Porsche 718 Cayman.