The trend with new cars is nearly always to supersize. We’re obsessed with gaining greater street presence, more interior space and thinking that size is all that matters. Thankfully BMW with its new high performance M2 is going against the tide of popular opinion.
The 370hp coupe is refreshingly compact for a performance car as it delivers the spirit of the original M3 in a refreshingly condensed and affordable form. The M2 on paper is essentially a poorer man’s M3. The rear wheel drive M2 costs €77,520 in Ireland – roughly 24 grand less than an M3! That’s a heap of cash that could buy a very nice motorcycle.
The perfectly formed M2 coupe delivers close to 100 per cent driving enjoyment. It’s rapid with 0-100kph taking just 4.3 seconds. It also has resposive steering and makes a beautiful noise when the active exhaust flap opens up. So why is it so much fun to drive when it has less power than a 431hp M3? The M3 and M4 can be quite technical machines. Race drivers are talented athletes that have ultra quick reflexes and circus performer levels of balance and spacial awareness, whereas you and me… that’s a different story and this is where the M2 really flatters. Yes it is slower than the other Ms but ordinary humans get to enjoy a greater percentage of the M2’s performance more of the time compared to the M3 and M4, and that’s the fun part. The joy of driving the 3 litre six cylinder M2 is its simplicity of use. You can get a 6-speed manual or my test car’s 7-speed M DCT with paddle shifts. The double clutch auto with ‘drivelogic’ plus it has launch control. Both boxes are brilliant and the DCT is technically great.
Behind the wheel you don’t take much about the engineering brilliance under the skin but rather concentrate on enjoying the horizon coming closer. The M2 makes you appreciate the simple act of driving. You set your line and enjoy the ability of the car to slingshot you out of bends and effortlessly overtake. Should you have some driving talent you can dull down the driving assistance systems to exploit the car’s performance potential. There is M Dynamic mode, a sub function of DSC (dynamic stability control) that allows a certain amount of wheelspin when pressing on while at the same time it heightens the car’s dynamics performance. You can drive an M2 like a Nun on a bank holiday with little effort. The M2 can pull like a train in day to day use thanks to a very healthy 465nm of torque (500nm on overboost). The M2 is really is very civilised but trust me when I say nine times out of ten you will want to take the long and twisty route home.
The car has great stopping power too with its M compound brakes (blue painted calipers). Great brakes are really important, particularly in a performance cars. At the rear there is an Active M Differential to help keep the power down and minimise wheel spin on the unloaded side. Weight distribution is a near 50/50 so the car is poised and beautifully balanced (until I got in!). Should you feel the need for everything to go to 11 – the M Driver’s pack takes the top speed from 250 to 270kph. This can be factory fitted or a dealer fit too and comes with a free voucher for safety training.
The downside to M2 ownership? First up its not an M3 or M4 but these machines are more technical and in the right hands faster. The interior is not premium and while this won’t bother you much, you wil be aware you are in a 2 Series and not a 3. Sadly like any high performance car the M2 will attract high insurance premiums. You’ll also need a tracker fitted in case the desirable car is stolen from you. There is also the €1,200 annual road tax so it goes without saying with 199g/CO2 emissions you won’t be on Greenpeace’s Christmas Card list. Other than that, simply whack it into Sport+ mode and it’s smiles all the way.