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Car Review

BMW M2 review

£62,345 - £62,840
710
Published: 14 Feb 2024
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

BMW insists the new M2’s personality shift is in response to feedback from customers upside down in ditches. But that’s rubbish, because if the last M2 had truly been that sketchy, it wouldn’t have sold like… we were going to say hot cakes but ‘fresh fruit and veg’ is more of a modern analogy. 

No, the culprit for the M2’s growth spurt is the 1 Series. Because it’s now based on front-wheel drive Mini bits, the 2 Series coupe became a refugee. BMW’s ingenious solution was to base the new one on the slightly chopped underpinnings of a 4 Series. Great! Space for rorty engines, adaptive suspension (which you never got on the stiff old M2) and a posher interior, straight off the peg.

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So this is more a short-wheelbase M4?

Exactly. You get the same engine, developing around 60bhp less than an M4 Comp. It doesn’t make an especially sensational noise, but it’s rich in torque: maximum punch lasts from 2,650rpm right though to 5,870rpm so overtaking’s a doddle.

Yet despite the huge wall of power and torque, there’s more traction than the old M2. It isn’t fighty or snatchy. Set it all to Comfort and this is an unrecognisably comfier, quieter, more town-friendly device than its dad.

Tell me about the transmission.

You get the same eight-speed automatic as an M4, or the option of a self-shifter denied to British M4 buyers. And as per all the other M cars it’s been fitted to, it’s almost as good as a DCT twin-clutch... but not quite. Particularly on downshifts, you notice it’s not as crisp as a Porsche PDK or Mercedes MCT shift.

What's it like on the road?

The M2 is hugely competent but seems to lack just a bit of sparkle. It’s incremental: the larger footprint (it’s 114mm longer), stretched wheelbase, an extra 75-100kg and the less precise auto’s shifts… it’s like going bowling with the gutter barriers up. Still fun, but with zero jeopardy.

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It steers into corners with total disdain for understeer, the body control is deeply professional and if you spec the manual, it’s quite nostalgic. Not a world-class Civic Type R or Porsche-great shift, though, and now BMW is charging £1,200 extra for it we'd be in the majority (some 90 per cent, in fact) who'll stick with the auto. 

Is that allowed? Is that legal to say in a public place? Fact is, the M2's manual isn't a great one. If you spec the carbon seats the weird carbon speedbump between your legs actually obstructs pushing the clutch pedal, in one of BMW's most shockingly amateur-hour design oversights of modern times. The car just feels like it was always designed for and better suited to an auto. The sprintier gearing adds a little bit more energy to acceleration, makes the turbo lag less evident, and means cruising at 35mpg is possible. 

Wait - is the M2 now boring?

No, but it's very different to the old car. And that takes time to appreciate. When we first met it last year, on dreadfully dreary roads across Arizona, its weight and ugliness were the headlines. But having tested it back in the UK, and lived with one for a few months, the M2's rounded repertoire of talents really starts to buff up. It's a much more complete car than the previous M2 - comfier, quieter, roomier.

And that upset us at first, because it's not what we wanted from the pugnacious upstart Lil M. But once you've got your M modes dialled in and saved to the red shortcut buttons on the steering wheel, you'll find the mayhem and giggles are still there to be enjoyed - they're just better buried than before. It's a real car of two halves, this. And that leaves us wondering, now the M2 is so good, what's the point in the M4?

Highlights from the range

the fastest

M2 2dr DCT
  • 0-624.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP453.3
  • MPG
  • Price£62,345

the cheapest

M2 2dr DCT
  • 0-624.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP453.3
  • MPG
  • Price£62,345

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