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Sunday 29th January
LA Motor Show

Nine things you need to know about the new BMW M2

New baby M car gets 365bhp and a raft of upgrades. Sounds pretty grown-up to us

  1. It’s rather like a shrunken M4

    There’s an elephant in the room so let’s address it: the new M2 doesn’t look nearly as unhinged as its steroidal predecessor, the 1-Series M Coupe, and there’s more than a whiff of scaled-down M4 about its front end and three-door profile.

    However, it’s still a well-muscled coupe – all bulging wheel arches and pent-up anger. We had the chance to meet it in a studio, and the squat proportions, inflated track (63mm wider than an M235i at the front, 69mm at the rear) and quad pipes immediately elevate it above and beyond the cooking 2-Series coupe.

    The same could be said of the interior – there’s an M badge here, an embossed logo on the headrest there - it’s all very familiar, but with an extra 10 per cent aggression throughout.

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  2. Manual or automatic? You decide

    BMW calls out the Audi RS3 and Mercedes CLA45 AMG as its opposite numbers, but neither has the M2’s trump card – the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed twin-clutch DCT auto lifted directly from the M4.

    For those still working on their heel-and-toe technique the manual ‘box will blip the throttle on downshifts, as will the DCT for that matter. Power is sent exclusively to the rear tyres, as you’d expect, and hooliganism is positively encouraged.

    Want proof? A Smokey Burnout mode (yes, that’s its real name) “invites the driver to indulge in a degree of rear wheel spin while the car is moving at low speeds.” This is good.

  3. Think brawny M235i, not detuned M4

    The engine is a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six with 365bhp at 6,500rpm and 343lb ft of torque. It’s a puffed-up version of the M235i’s single turbo engine, rather than the M4’s twin-turbo 3.0 with the wick turned down, and slots the M2 neatly between the 362bhp RS3 and recently updated 376bhp CLA45 AMG.

    It produces some seriously juicy numbers, too, such as 0-62mph in an RS3-matching 4.3 seconds when you order the DCT gearbox and unleash its launch control (the manual takes 4.5), and a top speed raised from 155mph to 168mph if you order the M Driver’s Package.

    For comparison purposes, the manual-only 1-Series M Coupe had 335bhp and ticked off 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, and that was a proper little firecracker. The M2, therefore, ought to feel suitable deranged. 

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  4. It’s engineered to make you look good

    The front and rear axles are borrowed from the M3 and M4, which means all-aluminium suspension and an electronically controlled diff that boosts traction but more importantly, drifting potential.

    Behind the 19-inch wheels there are no optional carbon ceramic brakes like you get with the RS3, but the steel and aluminium discs are larger than standard (380mm front, 370mm rear) and should be plenty powerful enough. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (245/35 front and 265/35 rear) help with rear-end grip and front-end precision.

  5. It should sound like a race car

    Having heard the M2 fire up in the studio we can confirm the exhaust note, at idle at least, is suitably burly, though the real fireworks will happen when you go chasing the 7,000rpm limiter.

    BMW’s product manager for the M2 confirmed there are snorts and explosions on downshifts with the DCT box, and he should know – he’s been having a heap of fun in a prototype for the last few months.

    It’s not all booming bassline and artillery fire though; electronically controlled flaps in the exhaust system mean the M2 won’t embarrass the kids on the school run, or make your ears bleed you on the motorway. Unless you want it to.

  6. It’s designed for the indecisive customer

    Priced at £44,070 for the manual and £46,575 for the DCT version, the M2 costs more than its rivals, but you won’t have to touch the options list unless you fancy splashing out on an upgraded stereo.

    There are but four colours to choose from – blue, white, black and grey – and a single interior hue: black with more black. You won’t be messing around with wheel sizes, finishes and designs either, because there’s only one 19-inch rim available, like it or lump it. There’s always the aftermarket, though.

  7. It lets you film your hot laps (and accidents)

    Here at Top Gear we’re not sold yet on in-car apps, but here’s one you might actually use. The M2 comes with GoPro software that lets you connect up your mini action cam to the car’s infotainment system, press record and stop via the iDrive wheel and view your videos on the central screen.

    Trackday enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to immortalise endless hot laps, or film those last few buttock-clenching seconds before their new toy meets nose-on with some Armco. The resulting YouTube revenue might just recoup the cost of buffing it out.

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  8. There will be no GTS version… for now

    If you haven’t seen the new M4 GTS yet, may we suggest you go and immerse yourself in the glorious details of BMW’s fastest road car ever.

    Well, we think that more aggressive GTS chassis settings, even more power and a ruddy great wing would suit the M2 quite nicely, but BMW isn’t playing ball. It claims an M2 GTS isn’t currently part of the plan.

    Problem is, they can’t build this M2 fast enough, with only 400 to 500 units earmarked for the UK each year. Don’t give up hope yet, though: there’s plenty of time for a track special to be warmed up and released towards the end of the M2’s production run.

  9. It comes from good stock

    Trace the M2’s lineage back past the 1-Series M Coupe, via the original E30 M3, and you end up at the 1973 2002 Turbo. Not an M car per se, but the first embodiment of the M2’s small and fighty philosophy.

    It was the first series-production German car to use a turbocharger. It produced 170bhp, and because it weighed roughly the same as a tea towel, shot from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds.

    The bodywork was the most bewitching part though, with arch extensions riveted on, and a snow-shovel front spoiler it was as unmistakeable 42 years ago as it is today. Not inconspicuous, then, but proof that the Germans might have a sense of humour after all.

    We’ve every hope the M2 follows in its footsteps...

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