Thrilling BMW M2 brings M car thrills by undercutting the M3 by over £12,000
Controlled aggression is the name of the game when it comes to BMW M cars and the M2, which has had a fair bit of hype, certainly doesn’t fall short in delivering ultimate performance with looks to kill.
Its extrovert design further underscores the car’s highly dynamic character and outstanding suitability for the race-track.This car has received the customary level of M Division magic.
Outside there’s a tough-looking bodykit with pumped arches, air intakes that look like they could suck up small children and massive 19-inch wheels. Under the bonnet there’s a more powerful version of the 3.0-litre single-turbo straight six linked to a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT automatic, with uprated brakes, the electronic M differential and aluminium suspension components similar to those on the bigger M3.
Controlled aggression is the name of the game when it comes to BMW M cars and the compact shape of the 2 Series translates exceptionally well into full performance guise. Dark gloss elements to the grille and wheels means contrasting colours work well, while greys and blacks give a more subtle look.
The M2 offers the same cabin space as the standard 2 Series, which is perfectly reasonable for a car of this class. Up front the sports seats offer excellent support, although even in their lowest setting the driving position feels a fraction high. In the rear legroom is good even for taller adults although headroom is relatively limited. The flip side is a huge boot, with 390 litres of space.
There’s a definite sense of purpose when you’re behind the wheel of the M2, even with it in the Comfort setting. The ride is firm but not harsh and keeps the body well under control, while the easy torque of the turbo six making short work of normal driving. Go for the DCT auto gearbox and urban traffic is a breeze.
Get on the right kind of road however and the M2’s real personality starts to come through. That effortless torque translates into strong acceleration right around the rev range, and with Sport mode engaged the throttle response is sharper and more of the engaging straight-six-engine note comes through too. 62mph can be despatched in 4.5 seconds but the there’s no massive turbo kick; instead you know there’s always acceleration available but never so much that it feels edgy.
But what really marks out the M2 as a fine driver’s car is the handling balance. Unlike the more hooligan M4, the ratio of grip to power is just about perfect. The M2 has shown to be confidence-inspiring with excellent traction out of slow corners and good grip balance between front and rear. It will play the hooligan too and serve up lurid powerslides when required, but only then; the rest of the time the M2 is real-world fast, capable, controlled and ultimately on your side.
M2 prices start at £44,070 and for that you get the higher-specification navigation system, xenon headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels and the higher grade of audio system including Bluetooth, DAB and BMW online services. The biggest option decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose the impressive M-DCT dual clutch transmission, but either way the M2 is a genuine M car for less than £50k.
Engine: 3.0-litre petrol unit producing 365bhp and 343lb.ft of torque (with 369lb.ft overboost)
Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels
Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds
Economy: 33.2mpg combined
Emissions: 199g/km of CO2