The BMW 2 Series has been with us for a while now, proving to be a popular model in the BMW stable with its agile performance and responsive handling. With the usual sporty variants including a coupe and a convertible, the 2 Series has been a prime candidate for the M-treatment already applied to others in the BMW line-up. This has finally come to fruition with the launch of the all-new BMW M2 that, with a traditional rear-wheel drive layout, increased engine power, uprated handling capabilities, and improved aerodynamics, will sit neatly below the M3 as the new entry-level vehicle in BMW's M-division vehicle array.
A fitting replacement for the gap left behind when the short-lived 1 Series M was discontinued, the new M2 finds it's niche just above the 1 Series M in terms of performance, but not too far below its bigger and heavier stablemate, the mighty BMW M3. Much of this is due to the fact that the M2 uses the N55 direct-injection engine of the 1 Series (a longitudinally mounted, twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder), but incorporates the same pistons, crank bearings, variable exhaust valve control, and variable camshaft control elements as those found in the M3 engine.
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As a result, the new M2 powerplant produces 272 kW (370 hp) at 6,500 rpm, which is 22 kW (30 hp) more than when it motivated the 1 Series M, and an extra 15 Nm (11 ft/lb) of torque to up the ante to 465 Nm (343 lb-ft). And, just to make things interesting, BMW says that there is a full 500 Nm (368 ft/lb) of torque on tap for short bursts of mayhem when the pedal is mashed down to full throttle (and when RPMs are between 1,450 and 4,750) in "overboost."
In terms of size, at 4,468mm (176 in) long and 1,854mm (73 in) wide, the new M2 is shorter and narrower than its big brother the M3, and also sits about 10 mm (1/4 in) lower to the ground. However, in comparison to a standard M2 coupe, the M2 is significantly wider in stance with fenders that add an extra 55 mm (2.2 in) to its width at the front and another 80 mm (3.1 in) at the rear. The most obvious change from standard, however, are the enormous "winglets" that adorn the heavy-looking front bumper and direct air into the engine and brake cooling ducts.
At the rear of the M2 there is the addition of a small boot lip spoiler and a distinctive rear bumper replete with an integral diffuser and the M-Series signature four exhaust outlets. Along with other subtle, and not so subtle, body changes BMW claims to have reduced aerodynamic drag around five percent, and cut lift by approximately 35 percent compared to a standard 2-series coupe.
Supplied standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, buyers can also opt for a seven-speed M double clutch transmission (M DCT) that provides a selection of manual and automatic modes, three distinct driving settings, and launch control. Coupled with the electronically controlled Active M Differential and a selectable M Dynamic Mode (MDM) in the Dynamic Stability Control system, the M2, will also happily allow a degree of wheel slip to provide for the increasingly popular ability to perform high-speed wheel drifts (on a racetrack, of course).
With the standard manual gearbox in situ, BMW claims that the M2 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.5 seconds. By comparison, the DCT-equipped version – despite being some 75 kg (165 lb) heavier than the manual gearbox model – drops this time to 4.3 seconds. According to BMW, this is not a mistake; apparently a numerically-higher (physically lower) ratio on all of the first four gears in the M DCT combined with the efficacy of its launch control function account for this improved time despite the increased weight.
With a curb weight of around 1,495 kg (3,295 lb) for the standard manual vehicle (and about 1,570 kg (3,460 lb) for the M DCT version), the M2 is no featherweight. In fact, it is some 40 kg (88 lb) heavier than the original M235i to which it owes many of its original underpinnings. Despite this, the M2 easily achieves an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). And, fork out a little extra for the optional driver's package, and upgraded engine management software allows for a new top speed up to 270 km/h (168 mph).
Putting all of the power to the ground are M-Series bespoke 19-inch cast alloy wheels shod with 245/35 ZR19 and 265/35 ZR19 tires front and rear, respectively. To counteract all of this speed and acceleration, the disc brakes have two-piston calipers in the rear and four-piston units up front, hauling down on some very large vented disc rotors.
Vehicle tracks are also increased in width over a standard Series 2 by 64 mm (2.5 in) at the front and 71 mm (2.8 in) at the rear, whilst additional bracing has been bolted between the strut towers for extra torsional rigidity. The struts themselves are MacPherson, and many of the front suspension components have been replaced with forged aluminum units to save weight, including control arms and wheel carriers. The rest of the components have all also been specifically tuned and adjusted to suit the dynamic characteristics of the new M2.
The economic result of all of this power output is a claimed fuel consumption of 8.5 l/100 km (28 US mpg) for the standard manual and 7.9 l/100 km (30 US mpg) for the M DCT on a combined urban/highway driving cycle, with CO2 emissions of 199 g/km and 185 g/km, respectively.
The interior of the M2 includes much of what one would expect in a modern M-car, including leather seats with bespoke stitching and adjustable side bolsters, a kneepad on the console for the driver to brace against in sharp corners, a specially-designed M-Series leather-bound steering wheel and gear selector, along with a range of unique instruments and modern electronic connectivity. Included in this are a number of BMW-specific apps, including those that allow driver performance studies via the M Laptimer or fat lap recording via an inbuilt GoPro camera connection app. All of the results can, of course, be collated and shared via e-mail or social networks.
At pains to point out that the new M2 does seem to embody much of the original M-Series mantra of lighter weight, increased handling, and better performance, BMW does seem to have a point – this vehicle clearly aims to please the sportier BMW aficionados with its purposeful improvements and aggressive styling. Set for launch in coupe version only, with no word on when (or if) a cabriolet version may follow, customers can order a new BMW M2 in Europe from October 15, with prices slated to start at around € 54,000 (US$ 62,000).
The video below shows the M2 carving it up with some of its BMW brethren on the race track.