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If the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, the BMW M2 and M2 Pure were like a pair of atomic-powered sulphur flares when they exploded onto the Australian performance scene in 2016.
Because just two short years after they launched, the BMW’s entry-level M cars are already no more, their engines falling victim to ever-tightening Euro regulations.
But worry not, M fans, because a replacement is on its way. Meet the M2 Competition; the fastest, hardest, most track-focused M2 to date, compliments of its new engine, bigger brakes and more slippery aerodynamics.
|BMW M2 2018: COMPETITION|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
While we’ll happily admit it feels more than a little weird to describe a car that will surely land north of $100,000 as anything even resembling a bargain, with BMW’s incoming M2 Competition we simply have no other choice.
Bargains are all about context, of course. And while it’s hardly a trip to the supermarket for some homebrand (and possibly horse-filled) meatballs, the M2 Competition punches well above its weighty price tag in the performance stakes.
For one, the Competition is more powerful than the M2 is replaces. It stops better, accelerates faster and tackles corners more sweetly, too. Plus, it adds genuine performance kit (an under-bonnet brace, bigger brakes, better aero) and a new pair of buttons on the steering wheel to help you jump to the car's most hardcore settings more quickly.
The cost for all this extra punch? Well... we don't know. But the smart money is on the new car landing at around $105,000 when it arrives in October - only about $5k more than the M2 it replaces. Better still, BMW is working on a stripped-back Pure model that should bring the starting price down to under $100k.
Outside, you can expect lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights and keyless entry (with push-button start). Inside, you'll find sports seats in 'Dakota' leather, a new leather-wrapped M steering wheel and climate-control air-conditioning.
If you believe BMW's design language works best on its smaller models, and plenty do, then you'll find lots to love in the looks of the M2 Competition.
First, the new stuff; the Competition adopts the aero-improved wing mirrors of the rest of the M range, as well as a new-look gloss-black kidney grille. There are two new exterior colours, as well ('Sunset Orange' and 'Hockenheim Silver'), while the quad-tipped exhaust is finished in black chrome.
Elsewhere, though, the M2 Competition remains a muscular and handsome looking thing; all domed bonnet, powerful haunches and sharp wedges carved into its flanks.
Inside, the interior layout is clean, premium and functional (though arguably a little dull), but the carbon-fibre-effect dash elements, Alcanatara door panels and bright-red start button do lend an air of sportiness.
Practicality is good, not great. Up front, there's plenty of room for driver and passenger, all the controls are easy to reach and the dial-controlled multimedia system is simple and intuitive to use.
There are two cupholders for front-seat riders, bottle storage in each of the front doors, a central storage bin for your bits and pieces and a second covered space in front of the gearshift that's home to the usual array of USB and power connections.
Life in the backseat, though, isn't quite so joyous. For one, you need to climb over the front seats to get there (no rear doors and all that), and while there was plenty of legroom behind my own (176cm) driving position, my head was touching the roof lining.
There are no cupholders or door pockets (or doors, for that matter) back there, either, but there are twin air vents and two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat. The boot is home to 390 litres of storage space.
The engine here is an absolute corker; a detuned version of the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder unit that powers the bigger M3.
In M2 Competition guise, the 3.0-litre unit produces 302kW/550Nm (up significantly from 272kW/465Nm in the current car), and pairs as standard with a seven-speed M-tuned dual-clutch automatic. Purists can opt for a sweet six-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option, too.
In automatic guise, that means a screaming sprint from 0-100km/h of 4.2 seconds (4.4secs with the manual) and a soaring top speed of up to 280km/h. That is plenty fast.
Other performance kit includes bigger six-piston front, four piston rear brakes, and a new carbon-fibre-composite brace under the bonnet (that helps with stiffness and is designed to make the front end bite into a corner with more precision) and an active M differential.
BMW claims a 9.0-9.2L/100km combined fuel figure range (9.8–10.0 manual), with emissions pegged at between 206 to 227g/km depending on the gearbox. The M2 Competition's fuel tank will take 52 litres.
The M2 Competition might be the smallest and least powerful model in the full-blown M car range, but it packs a heavyweight punch under its bulging bonnet.
You wouldn't consider the outgoing car a slouch, but this version ups the ante in every way that matters. BMW reckons it takes about 4.2secs to clip 100km/h, but I'll be damned if it doesn’t feel (and sound) faster than that.
But for ours, the M2 Competition is less about straight-line pace and more about the way it tackles a winding road. We back-to-backed the smallest M car with a fire-breathing M5, and while the former lacks the pure grunt of its big brother, it also feels lighter, more nimble and far more suited to a tight and twisting back road.
In short, the M5 might well pull away on the straights, but the M2 Competition will be glued to its rump in the tighter stuff.
Part of that is down to a new Y-shaped carbon-fibre-composite brace that lives under the bonnet, stiffening front end and - BMW tells us - allowing the M2 to turn into corners with more precision than its predecessor. It's a trick learned from others in the M range, and the Competition's front tyres bite into corners with seriously impressive precision.
But by far the most fun part of this pint-sized performance coupe is the ability to turn the traction control to part-slip mode (not something we would recommend on a public road), which allows you to stamp on the accelerator on the exit of a corner, sending the rear end slipping and sliding, all safe in the knowledge that the traction system will (we hope) pull you back into line should things get really out of hand.
It's a seriously fun, seriously smile-inducing ride on the right road, but perhaps most surprisingly, it won't sap your will to live on the daily commute. The non-adaptive suspension can't be made any more or less comfortable, but it does a properly impressive job of balancing its duties on both sides of the wild/mild divide. There are more comfortable cars, sure, but the M2 Competition won't rattle your fillings loose on the ride to work.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Final specification is still being decided for Australia, but BMW’s (just about) full suite of safety systems will be available, either as standard or as an option, including AEB wth pedestrian detection and lane departure warning.
While the M2 is yet to be crash tested, the 2 Series received a four-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2014.
You can prepay your maintenance costs for five years at the time of purchase, but there's no true capped-price servicing program in place.
It's early days, and we'll wait until we drive it on Australian roads before we make a final verdict, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that when the M2 Competition arrives in October, BMW’s most-fun M car might just be its cheapest. And how often do you get to say that?
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$78,750 – 89,900||2018 BMW M2 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$94,900 – 115,990||2018 BMW M2 2018 COMPETITION Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION PURE||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$77,110 – 88,660||2018 BMW M2 2018 COMPETITION PURE Pricing and Specs|
|Pure||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$72,050 – 82,830||2018 BMW M2 2018 Pure Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|