- The BMW M2 Competition is a two-door rocket that replaces the M2, which was already a fantastic sport coupé.
- The M2 was $US54,500, well-equipped. The M2 Competition starts at about $US59,000, but my test car tipped the cost scales at $US67,045.
- The BMW M2 has an impressive 405-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine under the hood.
BMW’s M Sport division doesn’t disappoint. But in the past – with the lineup starting at the M3, moving on to the M4, through the M5 with some the muscular X6 M crossover and convertible trims thrown in – the entire M family had gotten kind of large, size-wise, leaving room for a smaller ride that evoked Bimmers of old.
Enthusiasts craved such a car, and with the M2, they got it (actually, with the M235i, they already something worth considering, but it lacked proper M Sport power). I was blown away by the M2 when I drove the machine.
“For the true believers, this is going to be the perfect car,” I wrote in my review. “It is completely optimised for thrills behind the wheel. And yet it is far from useless for quick runs to the grocery store (I picked up a case of wine, and there was plenty of room in the trunk) or fetching the kids from school.”
BMW has phased out the M2 and replaced it with the M2 Competition. The M2 Competition costs more, but it brings more M to the party. I knew it was going to be good, probably very, very good. But would it be worth the extra scratch? Read on to find out.
I wouldn’t call cold, snowy conditions in suburban New Jersey ideal for a 405-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive sport coupé. But on the plus side — winter tires!
Fortunately, I did most of my testing before the snow hit. The paint job was a fetching “Hockenheim Silver Metallic,” and it was $US550 extra (the base price was $US59,000). Hockenheim, by the way, is home to the Hockenheimring, a German race track.
I had already enjoyed the M2, saying that it “struck a tuning fork deep in my automotive psyche.” The M2 Competition takes its place.
The M2 C is notably small. It’s a taut two-door.
By comparison, the BMW M3 sedan comes off as kinda massive. The M3 is not massive, but if you don’t want a pocket rocket, then the M2 Competition isn’t your car.
I will say that it’s an acquired taste. I don’t think the current BMW aesthetic scales down all that well, but the M2 Competition does successfully present itself as a lower weight-class boxer ready to throw some punches.
Case in point about the design: there’s a lot of action below the bumper line, which one could call overdone.
That said, the blacked-out kidney grille, with rakish dual-slats, is menacing.
Those severe, angular, LED headlights also mean business! They’re part of a $US1,500 “Executive Package,” which includes wireless device charging and a wifi hotspot.
It’s almost hard to find the M2 badging.
The Bayerische Motoren Werke badge, on the other hand, is easy to locate.
The rear end is … well, it’s nothing special, but unlike the front, it isn’t busy. The tail lights are too chunky for my taste, but the sloping roofline, down the rear window to trunk deck makes the back end look less stubby than the M2 does in profile. The quad pipes are tucked away.
The M2 badge isn’t difficult to find at the rear.
Trunk space is about what you’d expect for a coupé. There’s room for a weekend’s worth of luggage, a case of wine, or groceries for a week.
The exterior details are consistent— this wee side vent is blacked out like the grille, and it wears a tiny M2 badge.
Air can flow around the side-view mirrors (side-views actually create a lot of aerodynamic drag).
Those are 19-inch forged wheels, with M-Sport brakes — and winter tires! The ventilated rotors, by the way, are made of iron. The stopping power is staggering.
Weirdly, what stands out the most about the M2 Competition is the size, when you add everything up. People just aren’t used to seeing such a small bimmer.
There’s something mighty under the hood, however.
Here we find a 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged, inline six-cylinder engine, making 405 horsepower with 425 pound-feet of grabby torque. This is the same motor BMW puts in the M4, essentially, with lowered turbo output but the same torque rating.
The grunt is channeled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (with a manual mode). A six-speed stick is standard; the auto is about $US3,000 extra. The MPGs aren’t stupendous: 17 city/23 highway/19 combined, and premium fuel is required.
Let’s slip inside.
The “Black Dakota” interior is accented with M Sporty blue stitching. Front seats are heated.
The seats are also M Sport spec: well bolstered, adjustable-width, with lumbar support.
Some things rarely change, such as the analogue instrument cluster that confronts the driver.
You can just make out the blue-red M Sport signature cross-stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
It’s easier to spot on the shoulder belts.
The carbon-fibre trim is quite tasteful, as are the brushed-metal highlights.
OK, so the M2 Competition is a two-door sports car, and adults need not apply to sit comfortably in the back.
BMW’s iDrive system takes on infotainment duties. The system is controlled using this knob-and-button interface. The iDrive setup has been steadily improved over more than a decade and is now a top-grade offering.
The 8.8-inch is high-resolution and located in its usual BMW position, affording a good view of the road while glancing at the information displayed. Beneath, there’s a real, live CD player and old-school knobs for heating and cooling.
The system is generally good, although its decision-tree structure is the 21st-century equivalent of the button-fests that BMW dashboards were in the 1990s. Bluetooth pairing is easy, GPS navigation works well, and there are AUX and USB ports for device hookups. Apple CarPlay is available. The Harman/Kardon audio system sounds fantastic.
So what’s the verdict?
Sorry, next question.
Yep, it’s stupid worth it. The M2 Competition is almost comically excellent. Superb at quite possibly every level, exhilarating in the manner of small masterpieces, and sort of in a league of its own.
It’s also a glorious throwback. The whole reason that BMW is BMW involved, you know, that whole “ultimate driving machine” business. And the M2 Competition is ultimately a magnificent driving machine. But it fulfils that responsibility by evoking the BMW cars of yore, which were wonderful tossable little things that thrilled rather than intimidated.
The BMW M3 is too aggressive, and the M5 is downright terrifying. The M4 is a Teutonic muscle car. But the M2 Competition is inviting, with a horsepower bump on the M2 that’s pretty much spot-on (the M2 C’s 405 hp is a modest retreat from the M4’s 425 hp, but obviously with the M2 C you have crossed the 400hp barrier, and you can tell).
This is a car you want to drive in a spirited manner at every opportunity. A racetrack would be perfect, but a curving offramp will do nicely. Honestly, I had plenty of fun making left turns at 25 mph. Stomping on it while negotiating the freeway is joyful. The steering isn’t heavy, but it isn’t light either – it’s easy to establish a connection with the road, even on winter tires! The brakes are a secret weapon, as they should be in a car that can blast from 0-60 mph in four seconds.
Overall, the M2 is tight as a snare drum – but gutsier than the M2. It’s simply more M, and more M is good. Diving into corners, you know that you have just that much more throttle to power around and out, and if you get frisky with the wheel, the oversteer is ready to put a smile on your face.
Small and kind of mean, the M2 Comp is an attack terrier on the hunt for its preferred prey, winding roads – no question about. You can configure a pair of special M-buttons on the steering wheel flick between custom drive modes. As far as modes go, I favoured Sport mode, for the most part, but Sport-Plus supplies the most wide-open exhaust note, tightest steering, and the most aggressive transmission response. In that mode, flicking through the gears in manual mode can really kick you in the tail.
In many ways, the M2 Competition is the purist’s Bimmer. You can get into most of the horsepower, the wee beast is tossable but never unstable, and the engine is a wonder, but the car isn’t versatile enough to confuse anyone about its purpose.
The whole point here is to drive. And drive. And drive some more. The ultimate what machine? That’s right: the M2 Competition is it, and how!
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