£46,740 - £48,975 Price range
33 - 35 MPG
The BMW M2 is the smallest and cheapest M car you can buy. It rivals the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG CLA45 for performance, but in terms of handling, this is a worthy challenger for the Porsche Cayman GTS.
In tune with M car tradition, the M2 gets a big engine squeezed into a small, agile, yet totally manageable package reminiscent of the original BMW E30 M3. The 3.0-litre straight six, based on the M235i’s is responsive and willing to rev. In other words, there’s performance when you need it to make fast overtakes. If some performance cars are difficult to approach, the M2 massages your ego the faster you go.
And if that isn’t a big enough selling point, factor in that this M car blends supercar performance into a standard relatively practical coupe body. It has space for two in the front and a decent boot, but the rear seats are what you’d expect of a small two-door sports car i.e. not brilliant. Differentiating it from the M240i, looks-wise is the wide hunkered stance, muscular look and smattering of M badges giving the M2 a real presence.
All M2s have sat-nav with an 8.8-inch screen, a Bluetooth phone connection, air-conditioning and cruise control. A faster M2 – thought to be called the M2 CSL – is expected to be revealed soon. This version will get upgraded performance components and around 400hp to take the fight directly to its Mercedes and Audi rivals.
BMW’s approach to the M2’s cabin is different to more expensive M models. Instead of carbon fibre, polished metal and expensive suede-like Alcantara leather a few of the interior materials don’t seem to justify the £44,000 price tag. That said, the interior is well built and the uncluttered dashboard encourages you to focus on driving. Something you’ll want to do rather a lot of in the M2.
The iDrive infotainment system used by BMW is frequently used as a benchmark for other cars and impresses with its easy-to-use rotary controller, clear menus and snappy operation. You can even set the sat nav simply by calling BMW’s concierge service.
BMW M2 passenger space
For a low-slung coupe, the M2 is easy to get in and out of and the leather seats with contrasting blue stitching offer a perfect driving position – both the seats and steering wheel give a decent range of adjustment. All-round visibility is good, for a coupe, and you get extra peace of mind when parking thanks to the standard rear parking sensors.
Few buyers would want for more space in the front of the M2, but passengers in the back will be surprised by acceptable headroom and legroom that means there is room for adults, but only for short trips.
BMW M2 boot space
With a capacity of 390 litres, it’s much bigger than the 341-litre boot in the Mercedes A45 AMG, while the Audi TTS and Porsche Cayman have around 300 litres of load-lugging potential. Worth noting is that even though the shape of the load area is practical, the opening is somewhat small and there is a high lip to carry bags over.
The M2 delivers on all its promises – it’s easy to drive fast and offers a broad range of qualities meaning that a professional racing driver can have just as much fun behind the wheel as someone with no talent whatsoever. Unlike its M4 big brother, which can feel intimidating to drive, the M2 encourages you to explore its limits without fear. It is what a true performance car is all about.
Drivers with more experience will love that the rear steps out for picture-perfect slides with a flick of the steering wheel and a prod of the throttle. In Sport + mode, the stability control lets the driver explore the limits of grip without cutting in too early to ruin the fun.
Something the M2 does without is adaptive dampers. However, we are full of praise for how the M2 goes. The excellent handling characteristics are largely due to the M2 stealing its brakes, suspension components and exhaust bits from the £13,000-more-expensive M4; meaning the extra outlay over the half-blood M240i is well worth it with a little bit of man maths applied.
More M4 derived gadgetry is the Active M Differential. It uses sensors to determine which of the rear wheels should get the most power letting the driver apply the throttle sooner when exiting a corner.
M car purists might not like that the M2 doesn’t have an engine specifically built for it like other more expensive M models do. It’s most closely related to the 3.0-litre in the recently defunct BMW M235i, with one turbocharger and lightweight pistons borrowed from the M4.
Like the M235i, the M2 benefits from a huge lump of torque (342lb ft) available from as little as 1,400rpm, which doesn’t taper off until the engine hits 5,560rpm. But unlike in the M235i, it revs freely to 7,000rpm redline – the results of the lighter engine parts borrowed from the more expensive M4.
It’s quick too because the 370hp it makes needs to move just 1,500kg around – about 200kg less than the M4. This results in a supercar-quick 0-62mph dash in 4.5 seconds, dropping to 4.3 seconds if you opt for the automatic gearbox.
Combined fuel economy figure of 33.2mpg is achievable, but drive it as intended and you’d be seeing numbers closer to 20mpg, while annual road tax will set you back £265. For a car capable of 155mph flat out the running costs are reasonable, though.
As standard the M2 is offered with a precise six-speed manual gearbox that is a dream to use and sure to be a selling point for enthusiasts.Those who prefer a hassle free driving experience (or people who’ll use their M2 on congested city streets) will be pleased to hear that the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is equally good and has some electronic tricks up its sleeve, too. Buy it and you get launch control, a ‘smokey burnout’ mode and creep-on-demand, which makes getting in and out of tight parking spots easy.
Euro NCAP won’t crash an M2 and they haven’t tested the regular 2 Series either, but most other BMW models (including the smaller 1 Series which shares the same basic chassis) scored top marks, so we have faith that this BMW is just as solid.
There is a huge range of passive and active safety systems including the aforementioned traction control, while cruise control is standard. There is no automatic emergency city braking even as an option.
At a glance, the M2 might seem expensive, but it comes with standard equipment that reflects its price.
It includes automatic air conditioning, a leather-wrapped sport seats that hold you firmly in place while exploring the car’s limits, a sports steering wheel, automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers (that keep you focused on the road) plus bright Xenon headlights.
The M2’s iDrive system features Apple CarPlay, connects to the internet, receives real time traffic information and has its own concierge service, which you can call any time. You can even lock and unlock the car remotely, or check on fuel levels.
BMW M2 M Performance
If the M2 seems a bit subtle there’s a range of M Performance parts designed to let you personalise the M2 and accentuate its performance abilities. You can have more aggressive bumpers and sideskirts along with a louder exhaust system. The standard suspension can also be replaced with M performance adjustable coilovers.
Inside, you can add a bit of flair with an Alcantara leather-wrapped steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and some more carbon fibre bits.
BMW M2 CSL
It has been rumoured that BMW could be working on an even faster CSL limited edition version of the M2. A new aerodynamics package, revised suspension, stripped out interior and a re-tuned engine that delivers even more power would all combine to produce a seriously fast compact saloon car.
A water injection system, like that fitted to the M4 GTS, could be installed on the M2’s 3.0-litre engine but, as of early 2016, BMW hasn’t confirmed any details yet.
BMW seems to have a smash hit on its hands and we really love it. This car is incredible to drive and it looks the business. It simply combines so many talents in a good-looking body that’s propelled by one of the best engines in the company’s recent history. The M2 does everything the Cayman does but is much more livable on a day-to-day basis.