The BMW M2 sports car has finally arrived

For more than three decades, BMW’s Motorsports division has been turning the company’s passenger cars into road-going speed machines. Last month, BMW unleashed its latest M car, the M2, upon the world.

The introduction of the M2 finally gives BMW’s 2-Series its own representative in the company’s M lineup. Since it landed on US shores a couple of years ago, the 2-Series has been one BMW’s most highly praised models. Consumer Reports gave the M235i a score of 98 out of 100 on its road test. That makes it the third-highest-rated car in the world and the highest-rated car not made by Tesla, according to Consumer Reports.

We also liked the 2-Series quite a lot.

Have a closer look at the new BMW M2.

In 1985, BMW's Motorsports engineers worked their magic on the company's compact 3-Series coupe. The resulting first-generation M3 (known as the E30) was a revelation for buyers of sports cars.

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The M division followed a simple but highly effective formula. The M3 paired a powerful inline-four-cylinder engine with ...

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... a world-class driving experience and ...

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... some serious racing-derived technology ....

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... all wrapped up in a relatively stylish but still rather German package. The result was a car that has become a cultural icon.

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Over subsequent generations, the M3 coupe got bigger ...

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... faster, and ...

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.... more powerful. By its fourth generation, the M3's 4.0-litre, 414-horsepower V8 engine was nearly twice the size, with more than double the power, of the original M3's 2.3-litre, 197-hp inline-four.

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The latest generation (now known as the M4) is still a spectacular sports car. However, it has gotten incredibly luxurious and expensive. Our most recent BMW M4 Convertible test car cost more than $93,000. That's Porsche 911 territory.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Thus, the modern M3/M4 has lost a bit of the original version's pure sporting spirit.

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For BMW buyers in the US, the 2-Series represents a return to the ethos of the E30.

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Business Insider's Matt DeBord recently tried out the M235i and was blown away by the experience. Though the M235i carries the 'M' designation, it isn't an official product of the Motorsports division. As DeBord put it, the M235i is just a snazzier version of the standard 2-Series coupe.

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The M2 gives the 2-Series its own 'M' car.

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In the marketplace, the M2 competes against other high-performance compacts, such as Audi's RS3 and ...

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... the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG.

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The M2 retains the standard 2-Series' basic body and internal architecture. But BMW's engineers have added some serious performance goodies.

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To start, BMW bulked up the 2-Series' 3.0 twin-scroll, turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine. For M2 duty, the powerplant produces 365 horsepower -- up a beefy 45 horses from the M235i.

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According to BMW, the M2 can make the run to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds and all the way up to an electronically controlled top speed of 155 mph.

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Though most buyers will opt for BMW's self-shifting double-clutch transmission ...

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... purists can still order an M2 with a six-speed manual!

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Aesthetically, the M2 gets a host of aerodynamic treatments. In addition to giving the car a more muscular stance, they also help the M2 operate more efficiently in a straight line and maintain better stability around the corners.

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Also helping the car go faster are its lightweight aluminium wheels.

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To get the M2 to stop, engineers equipped the car with a set of massive ventilated disc brakes.

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Check out the quad exhausts.

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BMW also sets the M2 apart from the standard 2-Series with a collection of 'M' logos to remind everyone of the car's performance credentials.

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Inside and ...

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... out.

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Inside the cabin, the M2 retains the same layout as the standard 2-Series, but with Alcantara and carbon-fibre trim.

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As with other BMW Group cars, the M2 features the company's iDrive infotainment system. It is generally not well loved, but it gets the job done.

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The M2 arrives in US showrooms in the spring of 2016.

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BMW has not announced official pricing. But some folks have been eagerly anticipating this car, so for them, it maybe not matter much how much the car winds up costing.

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