BAVARIAN FIRE CRACKER

BAVARIAN FIRE CRACKER

Powerful, intuitive and nifty, the BMW M2 has all the hallmarks to take its place amongst some of the most prolific cars to wear the M badge . We find out why...

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Its been a while since BMW’s M division has come up with something thats crazy spectacular... like the M5 E28 or E39...or the M3 E46 or E30 road cars that were technically built for the track. The latest M3 and M4 weren’t exactly promising while the X5M and X6M were pointless. Who races with their are toddlers in the back seat, or when was the last time you saw someone actually hammering an SUV at the track?   Luckily for M fans someone in Munich decided to spruce things up. First they upgraded the M4 and pushed out a GTS version. Then they introduced a competition pack for the M3, which sort of righted some of the wrongs of the regular cars. After this they launched the M2 asserting their footprint territory they carved out in the first place themselves.

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Performance

Right then, this car is all about performance and there is lots we need to tell you. As a result we will skip out the parts about the suppleness of the leather interior or the smooth flowing curves. So lets talk muscle, numbers and drive.  The M2 comes in a double clutch auto-box option and a manual one too for those who like keeping themselves busy during hairpins and corners. The former manages a 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds and the latter about 0.2 seconds slower. Top speed, as you’d expect, is limited to 155mph.

Its got 365bhp on tap which makes it a very quick car and for some reason it actually makes your realise it, more so than others with similar outputs. It might be some new kind of lighter sound insulation or it might be exhaust amplification, but either way the M2 feels quicker than what the speedo shows you.

But outright speed isn’t what the M2 is all about. This car was created for fun and driver involvement and based on those attributes, its better at keeping things in check, then unknowingly landing up in a ditch!

The M2’s turbocharged, 2979cc, in-line six cylinder engine puts out 369lb ft from as low as 1450rpm and up to 4750rpm. It is a muscular feeling engine, and there is decent acceleration in all but the most inappropriately high gears.

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Engine and gearbox

The heart of this beast is derived straight out of the M235i, albeit a sprinkling of M3 and M4 components plus a few custom parts. All cars share the 3L in-line six but where the M3/4 get twin turbos, the M2 utilises a twin-scroll unit. To add more grunt the M2 got a larger intercooler, pistons and forged crankshafts from the M3/4 and a modified sump.

Overall the engine sits comfortably between the M235i (321bhp) and the M3/4 series (425bhp). Its not as vicious as the elders but its perky and potent nevertheless. What it offers you is that comfortable flexibility right before the point-of-no-return giving you sublime steering control.The car we drove here was equipped with the seven speed DCT which in Sport and Sport Plus modes slams each shift with a jolt that’ll leave the tires struggling to cope. Quiet honestly there is enough torque in this six, that the extra ratio (seventh gear) seems pointless.

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Ride and handling

Compared to the regular 2 Series, the M2 sits 8mm lower, 3mm longer, 58mm wider from the front and 45mm wider from the back. It also borrows front and rear suspensions from the M3/4, while retaining the solidly mounted rear axle set-up from the bigger M cars.

The dampers on the M2 are non switchable making for a ride firm and precise. But don’t get worried, its not uncomfortable even if you happen to venture into the rough suburb back roads. The whole concept here is to keep the body seriously in check and only reactive to your subtle inputs. We were actually surprised at how well the M2 keeps it’s tail tucked in making the car more predictable on tricky roads. The M2’s shorter wheelbase gives it more fluidity, thereby allowing you to create an intuitive flow when driving quickly on the track or windy roads. You can brake late and feel it get ready to rotate for that hard turn-in, and all you need to do then is use the throttle to balance the car out of the corner without oversteer. It lets you feel exactly how much throttle you need to directly influence your line out of the bend. It’s got vast amounts of torque so if you push it harder then due, the tires will get overwhelmed and break loose. However with the engines linear power delivery its easy to control that tail. Simply ease up on the pedal and you can pull a neat slide... or if you want more drama push it down a bit more and get maximum sideways action.

The stiff suspensions play a major part here as there is minimal body roll which means you don’t really need to hold-up for weight transfer. The car is there with you all the way making recovery from a slide clean and satisfying. We must admit that the chassis has been brilliantly tuned and you can do this turn after turn. Steering feedback may not be like the M4 GTS, but you don’t really need it anyway. In this car the information is transmitted by the suspensions and chassis. Its great for driving like gentleman racer, but should you chose to play Ken Block the M2 would be more than willing to oblige.The M2 comes with the MDM (M Dynamic Mode) option which ensures that there is an auto cut off should you lose control. Its great especially for beginners to understand the dynamics of the car and exactly how playful it is before it bites. Having said that the M2s handling is very predictable even with the traction off.  The only chink in the armour of the M2 are the brakes. There is no carbon ceramic brake option and that is fine if you stick to spirited driving on public roads. But take it to the track and within a few rounds you will find yourself pressing deeper to control speed. Perhaps a Carbon Ceramic option needs to be considered.But overall the M2 is flirting around with poise similar to that of the more iconic M badges. Its got what it takes to become a great badge and possibly a modern classic. Yes it’s not as aggressive as the M3/4, but that is a quality which makes it a more controllable and fun car to drive and own.

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Interior and tech

On the inside its pretty similar to the 2 Series Coupe. The ergonomics are great and everything seems to be in its standard place. Its all functional and laden with the usual M tri-colour stitching on the wheel, seats and leather. Something we really liked was the ‘raw’ carbon fibre accents void of glossy resin finishing. We thought it looked understated and classier compared to the usual shiny panels we are so used to.

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Design

From the outside the M2 looks buff stocky and incredibly aggressive. Compared to the regular M235i it looks like a completely different animal, and quiet rightly so. The changes made over the standard car make it difficult to believe they’re even related.Our test car went one step ahead, and had the complete M performance package which includes rear diffuser, side mirrors, side panels, front spoiler, side skirts, rear wing and other details. The stock diamond cut wheels were replaced with after market 20” Vossen wheels. For an even more aggressive stance the owner opted for KW V3 coilovers. Rest of the mod list includes an ‘Aquamist HFS4 Methanol injection system, Akra’ Downpipe, Gruppe M intake system, charge pipes for better intercooler function... finished off by a complete custom flash tune. How much does this beast produce? A whopping 400WHP... which constitutes to approximately 477bhp on crank.

VERDICT

The M2 on its own as just an awesome piece of machinery. Prices for the 1M are still holding strong and the cars are being driven and used as daily drives. It is difficult to find a low miles car. Hence this car being a better performer, a better looker is certain to become a modern classic.As for our cover car? Lets just say if the regular M2 was James Bond, the one you’re looking at is Mohammed AlI. “Floats like a butter fly, stings like a bee”

© COPYRIGHT ARABIA MOTORS January 2017

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