Our In-depth Review of the BMW M2
The BMW M2 came out in 2016 and has been a revelation in the world of BMW. For years now BMW enthusiasts have complained that the products coming from BMW M division have lost their true BMW DNA. Cars like the X5M or the X6M didn’t make sense to the average M fan. Why do you need a 2 1/2 ton SUV to go under 4.0 secs 0-60? Who’s really going to track that thing? Mothers at the Costco parking lot?
Even the standard bearer of the BMW M division – the almighty BMW M3 seem to lost its way. First, they changed the legendary name by calling the coupe the BMW M4 and the sedan version the M3. Ok, sure. But what was worst was the lack-luster electric steering, the bigger footprint (seriously the M4 is the size of the previous generation M6), and the change in character. An over-indulge of turbo power now overpowered the chassis. Instead of acting like a classic M3, the new M3/M4 drove like a Corvette. Mass amounts of power, dominating the chassis. Power power power. Wheel slips in 3rd gear. Not great for the road or the track.
So in this world, BMW announced that they would make an M version of the 2-series. A successor to the future classic BMW 1M. BMW would follow the same blueprint as they did with the BMW 1M. To lower costs, they would use as much of the BMW 2-series platform and steal what parts and bits they can get from bigger brother BMW M3/M4. The engine would be a standard N55, given a makeover by the boys at the M division. But it wasn’t a new M engine from scratch but the standard N55 engine that powers every car in the BMW lineup today. So how did it come out?
Like a Bat Out of M-Hell
The BMW M2 exceeded all expectations and also provided hope. The BMW M2 became the true M3 in the lineup – a daily driver that can easily be taken to the track and tossed around.
The M2 looks wise came with all the M goodies and design language that is now standard for every M car. This includes flared fenders, gaping front bumpers, aggressive and larger wheels/tire setup, dual quad pipes, and other body kit gear. Proportion wise it was the right size. In fact, when looking at the dimensions it’s the same size as the E46 M3 except for the width. The M2 is bit wider. Weight wise it’s close again to the BMW E46 M3, weighing in at 3,450 lbs.
Inside BMW kept it simple. One reason was to probably keep costs down but also to make the objective of the car more clear. The car doesn’t speak luxury inside and is pretty spartan except for the blue stitching on the seats which adds a nice touch. Buyers have the choice of a DCT (dual clutch) transmission for $2,900 or a 6-speed manual that was standard. The car actually works better with a 6-speed manual and comes with an automatic blip-match feature on downshifts. There not much more options to choose from besides the transmission. You can get an Executive package that comes with heated steering wheel, cameras, Park Distance and other electronic nannies. Also, some paint colors are extra including the popular Long Beach Blue (which Glenn has for his M2).
The BMW M2 is the smallest M car available to buy but still, comes with the goods. Power wise it comes with 370 hp and over 300 lbs of torque. 0-60 times are faster with the DCT but more fun with the 6-speed manual. Performance wise, while it’s down in power from the mighty M4, it comes close to its track times indicating that the BMW M2 is a better-controlled car for its mass and power compared to the BMW M3/M4.
Ultimate Driving Machine
But it all goes back to the subjective feel. We can talk about the paper stats and specs all we want but what makes the BMW M2 so good is the way it drives. Part of it is surprising because of the N55 engine. While not a true ‘M’ engine, the N55 is historically like past inline-6 engine that previous BMWs were known for. This engine, compared to the S55 engine in the M3/M4 captures the zest of winding the RPMs, shifting and provides natural mechanical sounds for feedback. With the same suspension parts of the BMW M3/M4, the BMW has tons of grip and quick responsive steering. BMW engineers have tuned the BMW M2 to have the best combination of engine, chassis, body and control for the driver. This also is simplified from current M cars which come with hundreds of driver setting combinations.There’s still a ‘sport’ setting for the BMW M2, but damper/suspension controls thankfully been left out. Back in the day, BMW engineers tuned the car for the owner when it was sold. That’s why older BMW M cars are so wonderful to drive – they drove well in both daily driving conditions as well on more spirited roads or tracks. Something that hundreds of computer settings sometimes find hard to match.
As said by many, the BMW M2 is the best example of a BMW M sold today. It successfully captures the spirit and driving nature of past BMW M cars including the BMW E46 M3 which is more of its spiritual kin then anything else. The E46 M3 is considered now the best example of a driving M3 with the right combination of size, power, handling and control. The BMW M2 is just a modern and improved version of it. By going to the past, BMW may have saved it future of M.