A refreshing return to form for a company that earned its spurs with small and medium sporting saloons and coupes, the BMW M2 picks up where smaller past M3s left off. It has back-to-basics appeal reminiscent of the 1970s pre-M Division 2002 Turbo and original 1980s M3. In design and tech it, however, owes more to its short-lived 2011-12 1M Coupe predecessor.
It is aggressive, moody, and athletically proportioned with rearwards cabin and short front overhang, while its urgent road-hugging demeanor is accentuated by a low front apron, big intakes, dual exhaust pipes and staggered 245/35ZR19 front tires for steering precision and broad 265/35ZR19 rear rubber for traction and grip. Like its predecessors, the M2’s two-door saloon coupe’s design is practical, with spacious front seats and boot, and useable rear seats.
The 1595kg M2 may not be as lithesome or as un-complicatedly evocative as the shark-like 2002 Turbo with its straight lines, low waistline and big glasshouse. Nevertheless, sharing a certain sense of the dramatic, the M2 is a product of its milieu in design necessities and preferences, with more complex lines and details, muscular concave and convex surfacing, and high rising waistline. Slightly narrow inside owing to glasshouse design, front headroom is however particularly good sans sunroof, while driving position is supportive and easily adjustable.
The M2’s well equipped cabin is business-like with uncomplicatedly sporty design and quality materials. It features contrasting stitching and clear instrumentation and front visibility past its bulging and long bonnet. Underneath, it’s powered by a silky smooth direct injection single twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter 6-cylinder engine, similar to the larger M3/M4 models’ 425 BHP twin-turbo engine. It launches with almost negligible turbo lag and surge. Urgent through revs and underwritten by flexibly abundant 343 lb/ft torque throughout 1,400-5,560 rpm, the M2 develops 365 BHP at a peaky 6,500 rpm.
Snarling to life and settling to a reverberating bass idle, the M2 revs eagerly past 7,000 rpm, as its pitch hardens and coalesces into an urgent wail. The M2’s seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox tends to hold gears somewhat in slow-moving traffic. With deliberate kick in Sport+, one can harness this to initiate slight wheel-spin and to kick the rear out slightly through corners.
It is controlled through corners, resolutely stable at speed, and buttoned down and settled over crests and dips and on rebound. Effective and fade resistant brakes are slightly jumpy in traffic, but pedal feel improves vastly with speed and firmer input. Steering is precise, if not steering layered with textural feel. Meanwhile, rear tires grip hard when leaned on, but can progressively kick out when provoked.
Smooth and fluent in comfort mode, the M2 features are incrementally sharper and have more of a focused stability control, steering, throttle and gearbox Sport and Sport+ modes. Most rewarding and engaging driven hard with smooth and progressive power, steering and braking inputs, the M2 is progressive and intuitive at grip limit in Sport+ mode’s later electronic interventions. Wrung hard in Sport, it feels slightly nervous, with hair-trigger electronic interventions giving an impression of less than available cornering grip. Meanwhile, an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential allocates power to the rear wheel best able to use it for enhanced cornering agility and traction through.
Engine: 3-liter, turbocharged, in-line 6-cylinders
Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual-clutch
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 365 (370)  @6500 rpm
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 343 (465) @1400-5560 rpm*
0-100 km/h: 4.3 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption: 7.9 liters/100km
Length: 4468 mm
Width: 1854 mm
Height: 1410 mm
Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones / multi-link
Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
Tires, F/R: 245/35ZR19 / 265/35ZR19
*369lb/ft on overboost