Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 22, 2016
Here it is, finally. Before our glittering eyes in a beautiful shade of Long Beach Blue lies the new BMW M2, and we’ve been patiently (and unpatiently) waiting to drive this baby M car for quite some time now. BMW M cars as of late have been rather controversial, shall we say. Numb electric power steering and turbocharging have replaced the status quo of hydraulic steering and natural aspiration, and have subsequently sucked out the driving soul that made BMW so famous in the first place.
The BMW M2 takes a step back in time however, relearning the formula and recapturing the magic that once made the brand renowned for its Ultimate Driving Machines. As a result, the BMW M2 isn’t just a regular 2 Series jacked up with a more aggressive bodykit, pseudo quad pipes, and a flak jacket, no. This buffed up 2 borrows its fair share of hand me downs from its big brother M4, mainly its chassis components. This includes the M4’s limited slip rear differential, forged 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, bigger brakes, and suspension parts.
Furthermore, the M2 forgoes BMW’s new generation of modular engines and retains the venerable N55 engine, a single-turbo inline-six that is also found in the M235i. Engineers have scrambled into the pits and stolen some pistons and crank bearings from the M4’s S55 engine too (twin-turbo straight-six) and managed to squeeze out a titanic output of 365-hp and 343 lb-ft of torque (369 lb-ft on overboost).
That’s 45-hp more than the M235i and 48 lb-ft more than the previous E92 M3 (74 lb-ft more in overboost). 0-100km/h? With the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) it does it in 4.3 seconds, only 0.2 seconds slower than the M4.
So is this the M car that we have all been waiting for? And is it a worthy successor to the 1M Coupe that took the enthusiast world by storm? Well it certainly appears promising, and looks the part too.
BMW is probably one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to flaring up and garnishing their performance trims. Take a look at a standard BMW 228i. Now take a look at the M2. You can tell the difference right away. You’ve got insanely puffed up front air vents, wide hips, massive wheels, the side fenders have gills in them, and just look at those sexy quad exhausts poking out the back. For comparison, take a look at the new Mercedes-Benz C 300, now check out the AMG C 63 – you can barely tell them apart.
But of course the real question up for grabs is the M2’s performance, and I’m glad to report that they’ve nailed it right down to the tee. Aside from its stellar appearance and alluring stance, that straight six engine is as sweet as your grandma’s apple pie.
Engineers will say there is no such thing as turbo lag, but it’s nearly imperceptible in the M2. The tach needle is on amphetamines, and the gas pedal is actually the button used for nuclear launch. The range that you will find that 343 lb-ft of torque is vast, very vast. Exploring the latter half of the gas pedal is like rolling the Monopoly dice only a few steps away from “Go To Jail.” It’s a test of restraint, as maximum thrust comes from as low as 1,450 rpm, with a meaty powerband that lets you get ample amounts of boost at nearly any gear in almost any rpm.
Enthusiasts will have no complaints about the engine – it’s that damn good – but it’s when it comes down to choosing the transmission that will have smoke and frustration billowing out of their ears. Though my gut says to flock towards the no-cost manual, dare I say it, but I might actually prefer the optional 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT).
Blink once and you’ll miss it. This DCT shifts faster than even the previous-gen E92 M3. Compared to the manual, the DCT may feel less analog, less involving, has less autonomy, costs $3,900 more, and weighs an extra few kilograms, but it is just so savage on the straights. Its downshifts are thunderstrikes, its upshifts are erupting volcanoes, and there is so much auditory drama that I easily forget about missing a third pedal and am instead awe-stricken by the performance it provides. It’s also faster than the manual by 0.2 seconds from 0-100 km/h. You cannot deny the DCT’s superiority in this regard.
The point I’m trying to get at is this: it’s not always about #savethemanuals. There’s a greater uptake of the DCT for a reason, because it’s more livable, easier to drive, and you won’t develop an Olympian left leg just by sitting in rush hour traffic. The manual also comes with an auto-rev matching feature that can only be deactivated if you switch off traction control. That sort of defeats the purpose of having a manual in the first place, doesn’t it? If you also happen to stall while missing the clutch’s grab point, the systems will sense it and turn the engine back on for you. No stalling, no rev-matching – what’s the point?
In the end, that’s the owner's choice to make, but you know where we stand. On the other hand, did we mention the noise it generates? The M2 finally harks back some memories of the old BMWs of yore. Unlike the baritone-esque songs sung by the new M3 and M4, the M2 delivers a classier note with a richer yowl to the 7,000 rpm redline and an accompaniment of lift-off burbles on your descent. It’s one of the best straight sixes we’ve ever heard.
As you cycle up the modes from Comfort to Sport to Sport+, the exhaust flaps will open, creating an even louder soundtrack. After reading some forums online, it seems like there’s even a “hidden” exhaust mode whereby leaving the car in Comfort and pressing the DSC button once will make it even louder than in Sport+. We thought it was a forum troll at first but tried it for ourselves, and it works. You hear more turbo blowoff valve noises than your household Dyson. PFtttttchewwww!
Like the 340i, the M2’s steering is nicely weighted. Cycling up the modes will progressively weight it up further, naturally too I might add. However what these modes and calibrations don’t do is dial in any steering feel. It may require more turning effort, but communication between the driver and the tarmac is all a mushy game of broken telephone. Luckily with the M2’s fantastic chassis and sonorous engine, it doesn’t need telepathic steering.
The M2 bends and hugs every corner like white on rice. You can read its thoughts, analyze the grip on the ground through the Michelin rubber, and though it defaults to mild understeer at the limits, a quick snap of the throttle sends the rear diff a wake up call and gets it rotating perfectly through the apex.
Unlike the M4, the M2 has no adaptive suspension, no customizable steering or throttle response, no gear shift speed selectors, or fancy M memory buttons on the steering wheel, just that standard switch that toggles between driving modes. On the bright side, the ride is perfectly balanced and tuned for spirited drivers – the M2 stays flat and level on backroads but around town in stop and go traffic it is noticeably stiffer than the M235i.
Slight bumps and potholes will make give the chassis a jiggle, while larger undulations mildly upset the ride. It’s not the most comfortable daily driver, but it’s do-able. If you don’t plan on taking your car to the track and just want some weekend driving fun, perhaps stick with the more compliant and street-friendly M235i.
We’ve seen the M2’s familial interior too many times before, and while familiarity can become dull and coarse, we’re quite happy with it. The cabin feels naked. There aren’t any distractions here to divert your attention away from the drive in front. The pop-out display screen is well integrated into the dash, the gauges are BMW-typical analog (which we love and hope it stays), and the M steering wheel remains our team’s favourite. The seats are supportive but aren’t nearly as supple as the M4’s – they don’t look as top-tier either.
Most die-hards will tell you to skip the M4 and get the M2 instead, but I’d only recommend that if you’re either short on $15,000 or want a higher ratio of performance over luxury. The M4 is the more comfortable vehicle. It has an adaptive suspension, usable rear seats, a wider palette of exterior paints and interior upholstery to choose from, and a larger options list for things that you can’t get in the M2, such as Bang & Olufsen speakers, ventilated seats, a convertible variant, and extended leather on the dashboard and door panels.
So it really depends on what kind of performance vehicle you’re looking for. The M2 offers an overwhelming amount of torque and character from its sweet engine and balanced chassis, but the M4 offers a more compliant ride with greater luxury appeal.
The M2 may have a few shortcomings with its lack of steering feel and paltry options list, but it gives us that exhilarating yet monumental feeling that we have all been begging BMW to bring back. It seems like they have finally done their homework, dug back to their roots, and delivered a car not just for the bean counters, but for the enthusiasts. The straight six is perfection, the exhaust is unbearably addictive, and its performance is a calculated symphony of grip, thrust, and neverending smiles.
The BMW M2 may be the cheapest high-performance M vehicle, but it’s certainly up there as one of the best. And if you’ve got $61,000 lying around somewhere ready to splurge, well, I’m sure you know our answer to that.
型号 Model: 2016 BMW M2
顏色 Paint Type: Long Beach Blue Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $61,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $65,795
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,693
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,468 / 1,854 / 1,414
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,565
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six
最大馬力 Horsepower: 365 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 343 lb-ft @ 1,400 – 5,560 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.7 / 9.2 / 11.1
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sports; Front 245/35ZR19; Rear 265/35ZR19