The new 2016 BMW M2 takes over the senses one by one, in a flash. Before I explain how that happens, you should know that the M2 is the greatest BMW M road car currently available.
The latest M2 can properly be compared to the fabled E30 M3 and, most recently, to my personal favourite BMW from the last two decades, the equally legendary 1 Series M Coupe, also known as the 1M. Essentially, BMW had no choice but to make the car this good as it was inevitably going to be compared to the 1M, as well as today’s M3 and M4.
The latter two M cars are, in my opinion and in a word, disappointing. The M2 has in fact saved BMW from a miserable fate of its own design: NO LONGER being the driver’s car. The reason for its mistake is money; all OEMs are in it to make a profit, which usually means making some compromises. However, BMW made no such mistake with this car.
All performance cars need to have an air about them that immediately conveys a message. Past BMWs have been referred to as sharks, and the new M2 is without a doubt a Great White, albeit a compact one. This small car looks as though it’s wearing a T-shirt that is way too tight, showing off muscles and attitude.
As it drives by, a glance to the front fascia will always be followed by a double take to confirm that the car was in fact an M2. The quad tailpipes and large 19” wheels accentuate the short wheelbase and all-business purpose of the car. The only sad part here is the colour selection: Long Beach Blue is the only right choice ― it’s not Valencia Orange, though.
Touch and smell
Dropping into the 2016 BMW M2 is a wonderful feeling where the driver is once again in charge. While you can’t taste the quality of the materials in the car, you can certainly touch and smell it.
Leather, Alcantara, and contrast stitching blend sportiness with luxury in a balanced manner. The highlights are the standard sport seats with power lumbar and lateral support, plus the wonderfully grippy steering wheel. The perches are as comfortable as they are supportive regardless of the length of the journey or the amount of lateral Gs. An unexpected touch is the sliding armrest that further emphasizes the luxury aspect of the car.
On the topic of gadgets and technology, the BMW M2 offers navigation, a battery of connectivity options, satellite radio, and a better than decent Harman Kardon audio system.
The quality and attention to detail are easy to assess through touch. As hardcore as it may be, the M2 can and does take care of its passengers.
Taste and sound
The driver, though, is far more interested in exploiting this compact performer’s engineered abilities. This is where the M2 and I connect.
Pushing the start button awakens the 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine. A few prods of the throttle allow you to almost taste the available power. The twin-scroll turbocharged mill produces 365 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque with just enough aural support. The cold start is enchanting, but it gets better from there.
My tester featured the M DCT transmission, a $3,900 option. As saddened as I was to not being able to row my own gears, I must say that BMW has taken its dual-clutch automated gearbox to a level that is nearly on par with Porsche’s PDK. This is a huge compliment.
Simply reversing out of the driveway with the M2 is enough to send many messages to the brain: Steering is quick and heavy, the brakes are practically grabby, and the engine wants nothing more than to roar.
Moving the shifter to the right twice engages manual mode, which is the only way this car should be driven. Setting the Sport drive mode to the powertrain only (annulling sporty chassis settings) is the ideal way to enjoy the M2’s brilliant throttle response and transmission. All of the engine’s torque is full on as of 1,400 rpm and holds strong until 5,560 rpm. Better yet, an overboost function increases torque to 369 lb-ft for a few moments. Under hard acceleration, the push is massive and endless, yet not alarming in any way.
As revs build, nothing changes in the seat-of-the-pants department. Thrust is constant, and only punctuated by hyper-crisp upshifts ― there is no lull in power delivery. The 2016 BMW M2 will reach 100 km/h in only 4.3 seconds (the M3 does it in 4.1 seconds, but has 60 more horsepower). Stomping hard on the brakes and downshifting is almost more exciting with superb throttle blips, some choice backfiring, and fabulous pedal feel and response from the large M compound disc brakes.
Perhaps what I love the most about the new M2 is its suspension and chassis tuning. Unlike the M3 and M4 that are designed to shake your fillings loose, the M2 offers up a level of give at the topmost portion of its suspension travel. While this creates a slight amount of body roll under hard cornering, it transmits the illusion of involvement to the driver.
The active M differential sorts out how much power needs to be sent to what side for optimal traction. The latter, the 50/50 weight distribution, and the lightweight axles are influenced by steering input which, in other words, gives the driver that all-important feeling of control. The steering wheel’s precision and response are empowering.
Basically, the M2 will give the person behind the wheel enough rope to have fun. This tiny aspect makes a world of difference and explains why the car is so good.
The price of M
Starting at $61,000 with everything you need in it, the 2016 BMW M2 is an easy sell. The M DCT and colour add close to $5,000 to the tally. For your information, pricing for the 2017 model has already risen by $2,000. Get yours now before production halts and values go through the roof.
To say that I want an M2 in an understatement, but at just short of $70,000 as tested before taxes, I can picture a “lesser” car on the luxury scale with a few choice modifications that would leave the Bimmer behind in a drag race. Dare I say it? The M2 may be more of an investment than a driving tool.