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I'm going to cut straight to the chase. The BMW M2 is still a humdinger.
After less than two years in the market, the baby rocket has somehow already had what BMW calls a "Life Cycle Impulse". The LCI is a little mid-life refresh which has delivered a raft of improvements and extra equipment, especially to the interior, to counter some of the criticisms of the launch model but the most important bit has been left alone - the way it drives.
|BMW M2 2018: (base)|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The M2 is a properly pumped-up 2-Series, with wide fat guards, big dark alloys and a mean front bumper. It's quite menacing, the elegance of the basic 2 replaced with an equal dose of aggression. The fatter guards create a real presence, possibly rivalling that of its bigger brother, the M4.
The cabin is 2 Series with bits, so carbon door trims and centre console trim as well as a set of rather comfortable seats. It's clean and functional and a bit grey. You could certainly raid the options list to brighten things up, but let's just say, it isn't avante-garde.
Being a two-door coupe, you'd expect things to be a bit tight behind the driver's seat. And they are, but it's not terrible. The 1 Series' middle seat is gone, replaced with a shallow plastic tray, and the transmission tunnel robs plenty of foot room, so it's no great loss. Headroom is marginal and long-legs are not at all at home behind even the shortest of front seat occupants.
The cupholder count is a mere two, with a a pair under the stereo and climate controls. The doors will each take a bottle and there is a decent-sized storage bin under the armrest.
The boot isn't bad for a car this small, with 390 litres and the 60/40 split fold extends it further. A ski-port is an option.
As before, the M2 is available in two flavours - Pure and Coupe. The Pure is a lower-spec entry model, priced at $93,300 while the car we had, the Coupe, is $99,900.
Standard on the Coupe are 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, auto adaptive LED headlights, leather and alcantara trim, sat nav, reversing camera, M steering wheel and carbon trim pieces.
The LED headlights are a welcome addition - not because the bi-xenons were bad, but at this price, it feels right to have the top shelf lights, although the Pure continues to solider on with the bi-xenons.
Inside, the really big news is 'iDrive 6'. Where the launch car had basic phone integration, version 6 jumps over the messy business of a USB cable for your iPhone and does wireless CarPlay (if you pay more for it, of course), which is very handy indeed, although you might want to spend some money on a wireless charging pad.
The screen is BMW's larger 8.8-inch unit, controlled by a rotary dial with scratchpad. The new system is card-based instead of the old menus, meaning less searching around for the stuff you want. And it powers a 360-watt, 12-speaker harmon/kardon-branded stereo.
The M2 is powered by the N55 version of BMW's straight-six turbo. In the M2 it delivers 272kW/465Nm to the rear wheels. You can choose a six-speed manual but we had the seven-speed DCT auto with paddle shifter. A flattened throttle delivers an overboost charge, taking torque up to 500Nm for a brief period. The run from rest to the ton is over in 4.3 seconds.
Between the rear wheels is a tricky differential which makes the M2 very lively indeed when you're in Sport mode, but when you're pootling about, there's stop-start and energy regeneration to cut fuel use.
BMW says that the standard testing yielded 7.9L/100km on the combined cycle. My week with the car was less successful for the planet, with a 12.2L/100km average. You can probably guess why, but that's still reasonable going for a car with 380 horses under the bonnet.
Fuel tank capacity is 52 litres, and although technically these engines can run on anything from 91-98RON unleaded, BMW recommends 95RON premium as a minimum.
The M2 is stiff, there's no point in sugar-coating it. Many stiff cars feel hard and unyielding at slow speeds but the good news is, the M2 isn't one of those. In fact, once moving, the car is reasonably compliant.
While you'll feel most bumps, you won't crash into or out of them the way you do in a base WRX or a less capable performance brand.
Spending time with the M2 leads to the discovery that it is a devastatingly capable machine. It can do all the normal stuff a 220i does, with little drama. The only concession to its mammoth performance is the pernickety, sometimes clunky DCT dual-clutch, where the standard cars score an eight-speed ZF auto.
What a belter of an engine, hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that doesn't mind head-banging changes when you're up in Sport+ and running the gears yourself.
The M2 isn't actually as closely related to a basic 220i as you might think. A cursory look reveals it's wider (courtesy of bits from the larger M4), along with a set of chunky alloys that fill the pumped guards. All the extra power from the straight-six turbo, full of bits from the M4, mean the car needs extra bracing to stop it twisting itself into a Kellyanne Conway interview.
Hop in, hit the starter and the bellow from the pipes will certainly distance it from even an M240i. It's a neighbour-waking belch that delivers colossal speed as soon as you're clear of suburban streets.
What a belter of an engine, hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that doesn't mind head-banging changes when you're up in Sport+ and running the gears yourself. It's so powerful but manageable, fluid through the corners and epic on the brakes.
The fat M steering wheel is wonderful to hold and keeps you bang up-to-date with what's going on underneath the front tyres. It's not too chatty, though, so it won't drive you nuts. Probably the only real criticism I can level at the car is that the steering is too heavy in Sport mode, but you can dial it back using the iDrive menus.
Four people can travel in relative comfort when you need to and with a decent-sized boot, it's a proper tourer for a couple or small family. The only bother will be the fact that without adaptive damping, long trips could prove tiring if the roads aren't smooth.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP and EuroNCAP have not yet tested the 2 Series.
BMW offers a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty on all its cars.
A five year/80,000km service plan for the M2 is available for $2408, which covers a reasonable amount of stuff (excludes brake pads, that sort of thing), but there is no on-going fixed price servicing.
Roadside assist lasts for as long as the warranty and will be mighty handy if you ever get a blowout.
I loved the M2 at its introduction because it was fun and furious, a small fast BMW that reignited the M flame. Little did I know it would get better with age while infecting the M4 CS with its joyful, attacking style. All while being as docile as you could hope when you don't want fireworks (and there's an M2 CS in the works, which will most likely be unhinged).
It's the only one of its (mostly) German rivals that is rear-wheel drive, six-cylinders and two doors. The A45 is fast and exuberant, the RS3 offbeat with its five-cylinder engine, and the Golf R as dull as dishwater if eminently capable. The M2 is more fun than any of them, if not as practical. But for $100,000, it's unlikely practicality is your prime directive.
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$82,800 – 82,990||2018 BMW M2 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$89,888 – 118,990||2018 BMW M2 2018 COMPETITION Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION PURE||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$76,780 – 88,220||2018 BMW M2 2018 COMPETITION PURE Pricing and Specs|
|Pure||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$71,720 – 82,390||2018 BMW M2 2018 Pure Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||9|