It’s always fun to get a chance to review a BMW M vehicle, but none are as anticipated as the BMW M2. I had a chance to drive it on the track at Hampton Downs when we got invited to the BMW M Festival during May last year. I loved it, and said “I am not sure I would want this car as an everyday driver, but as a track focused toy, it would be hard to beat”. Would a week with the BMW M2 Coupe in the real world change my opinion?
There is only one F87 M2 Coupe model available in NZ, and it starts at $117,050. You can select either the 7-speed M dual clutch transmission with gearshift paddles, or the 6-speed manual version. There are no additional costs based on your gearbox selection, which is nice change. It’s a relatively small rear-wheel drive coupe powered by a BMW M Twin Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 272kw, and 455Nm of torque. The engine also has an overboost function which allows 500Nm of torque.
There are not a lot of options or even extras available on the M2. You have four paint colours to choose from; Alpine White, Black Sapphire, Mineral Grey and Long Beach Blue, which our test car has. The only other no-cost option is the Chrome Line Exterior, that’s it for the standard options. For optional equipment you can have the following: Tyre pressure indicator for $500, glass sunroof for $2000, Driving Assistant for $1300, TV Functions for $2500, CD Player for $150, DAB Tuner for $750, Apple CarPlay for $500, telephone with wireless charging for $400 and Speed Limit Info for $800. This list does not include the list of accessories you can get, like Carbon fibre wing mirrors or M Performance Black Kidney grilles.
That colour, WOW. Out of the 4 colour options, I was so glad BMW sent the M2 in Long Beach Blue. Everything about this car screams over-the-top madness. The massive arches covering the front 245/35 R19 and the huge 265/35 R19 wide rear wheels, the aggressive twin fin front bumper and the 4 large M Sport exhaust pipes. The car looks like it’s fast and will get you into trouble, while it’s just sitting there. Everyone who saw the car who walked by, said it looked great and that they really loved the colour.
Inside the M2 is just like any other BMW available in the range. However there is a noticeable simplicity about it, Which is exactly what you would expect, there shouldn’t be many distracting features in this car. It’s all about the driving experience and less about what fancy gadgets or features are inside. Regardless of its simplicity, the inside is rather refined.
I really liked the exposed carbon fibre weave trim and inlays. It was something different and had a nice feel to it. Avoiding the clear resin that normally covers most carbon fibre may have been an effort in weight reduction.
The driver and passenger seats don’t looks as sporty as you might expect. But after a while driving the M2 I was glad they stuck with the premium level sports seats found in other BMW’s. When testing the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG I found its sculpted hard race-like seats very uncomfortable after a short time behind the wheel. Many passengers said the same. So it was good to see the M2 was not going overboard in the design aspect and just made the seats comfy and supportive. What I noticed most about the seats when driving the M2, was that I don’t notice them. I could put all of my focus in the drive, and never once did I feel like I needed to get out and stretch or reposition myself due to numb bum. Well played BMW.
The steering wheel was a bit of a let down though. This car is completely mad, but the steering wheel was just the opposite and a too bit normal and boring. It didn’t even have a flat bottom to give you more of a performance or race car like feel. I assume you are able to upgrade this via the BMW M Performance accessory range, hopefully to something a bit mad, perhaps similar to the BMW M3 and M4 upgrade option which is a bit more sculpted, covered in alcantara and has gear change led indicators on the steering wheel. A steering wheel like that would be perfect in the M2.
The same can be said about the start/stop button across the entire M range. If you have read many of my reviews, this is my bugbear. I find it so crazy that something the driver interacts with everyday, that’s been changed from a turn key device to a button, is still so lacking in excitement. M cars are meant to be something special, so should these little daily interactions. We can even start small, just by making the button red would be something. Ok, moving on.
The driver instrument display was much like the interior, simple and what you needed. Dials, no digital dash, just two big gauges, one for speed and one for RPM. There was a smaller gauge for fuel and battery at the base of each dial, and one small digital display in between, for those basic additional readouts. Fuel range, temperature outside, trip and km driven. I did think it was odd that there was no option for a HUD, maybe it’s more weight than it’s worth. During my time with the M2, I can’t say I missed having one. There was a nice little feature in the digital part of the display, when the car was started or stopped, everything else disappeared, and all that was show was the M2 badge. I thought this was pretty cool.
The media screen was great and well integrated into the main dash. It was easy to see, very clear and just the right size that was not eye catching or distracting. This widescreen was also a touchscreen. I saw the idea behind it, however being so tall, leaning forward to touch the screen was not always ideal. But the controller on the centre console worked perfectly, and made navigating the menus without looking at the controller a breeze. I really liked the new layout to iDrive’s default menu. It was split into 3 visible sections, showing radio, nav and connected iDrive. This could also be swiped over to show the remaining features, Phone, My Vehicle and notification.
There was one section of iDrive in the M2 that I felt was a little overlooked. In the My Vehicle menu, there is a picture of a grey BMW 2 series. It’s picky I know, but this is a M2, a gorgeous blue one at that. The menu can’t show a grey base model 2 series. If I had just bought this M2, I would be a little annoyed at this. Yes that my OCD talking, but I don’t think I am asking a lot from a colour digital display. Much cheaper VW Golfs make sure to have the vehicle’s variant and colour in the display. As the old saying goes, nothing’s perfect. So at least there are a few things for BMW to work on.
The rear seats of the M2 has the typical 2+2 arrangement, with the folding forward driver and passenger seats. Most people hate this, and find it hard to get in and out. I did when I tried it. But as it’s an M2, you force your way in and don’t really care that it’s a bit tight getting in. But once you’re in, it’s surprisingly roomy back there, considering the size of the car. The several people who got in the back, including myself, were all surprised once seated how much room there was. It’s not like a regular sedan, but you’re not left holding your knees around your shoulders either.
The boot was another space that was larger than expected. I did have a bit of a chuckle to myself when I first opened it, And saw that the main feature was a large cargo net anchored to the floor of the boot. This must be required for the weekly shopping and those who then drive home with much exuberance. Again BMW being realistic about the people who are going to buy this car.
After composing myself, and wiping the drool off my shirt, there was a moment just before getting into the M2, That I feared it may not live up to the hype. Moments after starting the car up, I was relieved as the engine revving startup sound. I knew that everything was going to be okay.
Pulling away from the dealership where I collected the M2 should have been a simple and non-eventful affair. But as the two rear wheels started to spin, and the car’s rear end drifted away, before straighten up and launching down the road. The grin on my face was as big as the scoop in the front bumpers.
There is a lot of power in this little car. Under the bonnet was BMW’s M Twin Power Turbo 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder petrol engine. This produces 272kw, and 465Nm of torque. When this engine is under extreme power requirements, an overboost is made available, allowing torque figures up to 500Nm between 1,350 and 4,500rpm. Those figures are crazy for a vehicle that only weights 1570kg and is rear wheel drive. All of this combined makes the M2 a fast car, with advertised specs of 0-100km of 4.5 seconds, and a top speed of 250km/h.
Before I get carried away, I should cover some of the features. The M2 I tested had the 7-speed dual-clutch DCT with Drivelogic, not the manual. But I got over it rather quickly. How you use the DCT is much like the other BMW autos, or any regular auto for that matter. So not much to cover there. Thanks to the power of the engine and the automatically controlled clutch, each gear change felt like a manual change. Not smooth and silky like you would expect, each change give you a little punch in the back. As to say, this car means business. It was paired with paddles on the steering wheel. And thank the gods, finally a car with paddles that were of some use. Far too many 7, 8 or 9 speed SUVs these days coming with paddles, that just don’t need them. But the paddles on the M2 where a perfect combination. More on these later.
Next to the gear stick was the drive mode selection. The M2 has 3 drive modes; Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Let’s start with Comfort, which was the default setting each time you started the car. Personally I would suggest to BMW to change the name of it from Comfort to Standard, as Comfort is a strong word for what the mode reflects. The ride in this mode is rather firm, and you need to be aware of the road surface at all times in the M2, as potholes will be felt throughout your body. This is not to say that it was uncomfortable, but it’s not what I would call comfort. In this mode the M2 is in its most refined and civilised setting. There is a nice note from the engine and exhaust, but its not obnoxious or inconsiderate. This is due to the M silencer that optimises the performance and the environmental-friendliness – Their words not mine. Throttle response was smooth and you were able to drive the M2 like any normal car without much effect at all. The problem here is, that you didn’t want to do that.
The Sport mode made the M2 come alive. The throttle response was quicker, suspension was harder, steering was sharper and the noise was orchestral. The exhaust note was the most noticeable change when switching from comfort to sport. An electric gas flap opens up in the exhaust, creating that loud, grumbley, gloriously obnoxious race car like sound. And with each up shift you were rewarded with deeper and louder notes. With each downshift you were got those amazing blip shifts. What was great about this sound, is that you got it all the time – You didn’t have to drive fast for it like some cars. This is why I found myself living in sports mode for the majority of the review. Thankfully the weather when I was driving the M2 was perfect, so windows were down, and Sport mode was on.
Sport+ was another level again. This is where the M2 goes from sporty to track. The suspension becomes rock hard, which is too uncomfortable on everyday roads, but perfect on the track when I drove it at Hampton Downs last year. The noise is much the same, but I felt like the gears held a bit longer in this mode compared to the regular Sport mode. As I was nowhere near a track during the review, I only used this mode to test the car’s handling a couple of times.
Back in Sports mode with the windows down, and ahead of me is my go-to country road that I use for handling comparison. But I am not sure if there is anything that the M2 can be compared to, nothing we have tested anyway. The steering is so well balanced, and pinpoint sharp. Super fine adjustments when entering and exiting each corner gave the driver tremendous confidence and a rush of satisfaction. This is where I think the manual would be a bit slower. The quick downshifts from the paddles when entering a corner, two blip shifts down, hold it, and then powering out with a roar from that amazing engine. Both front and rear axles have been redesigned on the M2 to help with weight reduction. It would be obvious to anyone that a lot of effort had gone into making this car lightweight. The resulting weight distribution felt perfect.
This car felt like a race car every time I drove it. Most of the time, you wouldn’t even know it was rear wheel drive as the active M differential was working hard to make sure you had the right power to whichever rear wheel needed it the most. However if you were a bit lead-footed, you could easily get the rear wheels to spin up.
I really enjoyed my time in the M2, if you have not already gathered. But this car had a strange effect on me. It was like there was a cheeky character sitting on my shoulder, whispering. Put it in Sports mode, go on. You know it sounds better, you know it feels better.
And when you hear these voices, in most cases, there is a voice on the other shoulder telling you not to, and to behave. But every time I looked over, there was just a sign, ‘Out to Lunch’, which left me with no real choice. I mean, what was I to do, the voice told me to drive it like a race car. It was made aware to me that this would not be an acceptable excuse if pulled over. So I had my fun, but kept it within the safe limits of our driving environments.
As my time with the M2 came near its end, I found myself cruising along the motorway, windows down and arm out. “What A Feeling” from Flashdance came on the radio, don’t ask. What’s important here, she was right, oh what a feeling it had been driving the BMW M2.
What it’s up against
There are other options, but the market does not offer many 2+2 high performance coupes in this price range. And once you go higher than the Jaguar, you are entering into the grand touring size coupes too. Unfortunately we have not had the opportunity to test any of the other vehicles on the comparison list yet.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||0-100kmh||Fuel Usage|
|Transmission||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Jaguar F-Type Coupe||3.0L V6||280kw/460Nm||4.9||8.6||Auto||$149,000|
|Audi TT RS||2.5L 4-cylinder tubro||294kw/400Nm||3.7||8.2||7-speed S Tronic||$132,900|
|Porsche 718 Cayman||3.0L 6-cylinder||257kw/420Nm||4.7||6.9||PDK or Manual||$123,900|
|BMW M2||3.0L 6-cylinder turbo||272kW/465Nm||4.3||8.5||DCT or Manual||$119,150|
|Alfa Romeo 4c Launch Edition||1.8L 4 cylinder turbo||177Kw/350 Nm||4.5||6.8||ALFA TCT Auto||$99,900|
What do we think?
I can’t stop smiling when driving this car. Its ability to let you enjoy the most boring of drives is unbelievable. But an exciting drive is nothing short of amazing.
In my opinion, the M2 is the best car BMW M range has to offer in terms of pure driving pleasure. And that’s because that’s exactly what it was designed to do. Yes there are many other exciting and great cars in the M range; the M3, M4 and M5. But all of these cars are trying to do two things well, everyday sedan or coupe and high performance car. Unlike the M2, which just focuses on doing one thing exceptionally well; Being the Ultimate Driving Machine.
Going back to my first thoughts, it’s still not the car I would want as a daily driver, as it’s harder then I would like on the roads we have here in New Zealand, And if you drove it every day, you might also ruin the thrill of it being the weekend or track day toy.
To date, the most thrilling and enjoyable car I had driven was the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI 40th Edition. It put and left a smile on my face every time I drove it. The M2 has crushed this, and set a new benchmark for my driving enjoyment.
The people who saw it, wanted it. Those who were passengers grinned long after they got out, And the driver was left wanting more and more of that pure driving pleasure.
BMW, top marks, and we tip our hat to you and everyone in your M division on creating this amazing machine.
Rating – Chevron rating 5 out of 5
2017 BMW M2
|Vehicle Type||Performance Coupe|
|Engine||BMW M Twin Power Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, 272kW power and 465Nm torque.|
|Transmission||7-speed M dual-clutch transmission with gearshift paddles, rear-wheel drive.|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1,570kg|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4468 x 1984 x 1414|
|Fuel Tank, litres||52 Litres|
|Spare Wheel||No spare|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.5 L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 11.7 L / 100km
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Stars|
|Warranty||5 years or 100,000 kilometres|