2023 BMW M2 Review: Double Down

Derryn Wong
  1. Introduction / Styling and Appearance
  2. Driving Experience
  3. Interior / Competition and Conclusion

Driving Experience

This might be the baby of the M range, but the M2 is pretty much stuffed with bits from the M3 and M4 – to continue our tradition of making stupid numerical jokes (see XM review), this is more like an ‘M2.75’ than anything.

M says the inline six from the M3/M4 is carried over largely wholesale, while much of the bespoke chassis tech developed for those cars has also been shoehorned into the smaller M. The spec sheets for the three cars read the same, back to back, in terms of chassis and engine tech: S58 biturbo inline six, M Adaptive Suspension this, rear differential that, kinematics aluminium multi-link pathway to glory. Another clue? The wheels are staggered, just like the M3/M4, rocking 19-inch fronts and 20-inch rears.

The M2 is the most compact M car, as it’s still some 214mm shorter than an M4. But it is the same width (1,887mm) and, disappointingly, the same weight as the M4 (1,725kg sans driver) since it’s now 150kg heavier than before. It’s a factor of crash tests and platforms of course, but it is a little disappointing to see that much mass gain here.

Still, the real driver of the M2’s success was the fact that it was more about driver feel than just reeling up the speedo – so is that still the case? 

The short wheelbase and compact dimensions deliver more driver immediacy, and this shines through even with civil motoring on Phoenix’s suburban streets. Much like the M240i, this is a car you can drive everyday because in its most relaxed mode, it doesn’t egg you on, the suspension is relatively comfortable, and you can have a decent conversation with your passengers.

Of course the true joy of the M2 is what the Americans term canyon carving, blasting through windy mountain roads, and that is one place the M2 is very much at home. 

There’s much more of the New M feel to the car, lots of grip, a certain tautness to the whole experience, and massive pace if you want it. Like its big brothers though, the new M2 is very, very fast. The 3.0 now carries a significant 90hp more than the first M2, 50hp more than the M2 Comp (460hp up from 410hp) while torque is the same (550Nm) but now delivered in an even wider band.

The torque is everything everywhere at once, and there’s even more top-end than the previous car, so when you give it maximum gas, it really flies and continues to accelerate right up to the 7,200rpm redline. Because of the car’s size, the fantastic inline six noise (and also perhaps because the Germans are lying) the M2 feels much faster than its 0-100km/h time suggests, so much so that we forgot the speedometer was displaying miles-per-hour.

For chassis and ride, the M2 behaves fantastically well in corners, allowing you to do what thou wilt, and there’s less of the ‘you just have to trust the car’ feeling you get with the M3 and M4, since you do feel more plugged in. On the other hand, bumpier sections were tricky because of the stiff springs and small footprint, typical behaviour of a small performance car.

It could be Arizona’s dusty tarmac, but it and there seems to be a little less front end feedback than the outgoing M2 Competition – though we’re also willing to bet M is leaving some room for the current-gen M2 Comp to fill.

We didn’t get to sample the car on track, but circuit-junkies will be happy to know that the new M2 has the same M Traction Control function as the M3 and M4 – it means you can turn DSC Off but still dictate, in ten discrete steps no less, how much slide you want. High-performance motorcycles have been doing this for years, and now M car owners can get in on the fun without resorting to learning how to ride an M 1000 RR.

CarBuyer’s test shows the M3 and M4 as more broad in their abilities, a welcome evolution away from the argy-bargy full-bore madness of the previous car, and the M2 is a shrunken down (very) slightly slower experience with more immediacy. All in, the M2 is faster, and more competent over a wider range than before. You still have that organic driver-machine interface, but the M4-ification does mean a little of that daily-drive-plugged-in feeling is lost. 

Give ‘Em the Stick: M2 manual

However there is also an important choice to be made if you want an M2: It will be offered as a manual in Singapore. That’s important because it will be the only current M car you can have with stick shift, since the BMW M3 (and M4) can be had in manual abroad but not in Singapore.

The other kicker is that BMW will sell the manual version here as a Purist Edition with the CF roof (-6kg) and CF bucket seats (-10.8kg), and the manual (1700kg vs 1725kg) so you’d have a sort of semi-superleggera thing going on here, around 40kg lighter than the auto M2, or M4.

The manual immediately breeds more driver engagement, naturally. Having to select and think about gears yourself means you’ll drive a little slower than with the auto of course, but gain more enjoyment in the process. The big, fat torque band means you can still be rather lazy with gear selection of course. 

The six-speed feels like the same unit we’ve tested in the previous M3/M4 and previous M2 Competition – it’s not the slickest stick shift around, but it’s competent and reasonably accurate. The clutch is light and easy to feel, while the pedal setup means you can’t really heel-toe unless you’re able to make significant pedal depression.

In any case, there’s rev-matching to make your life easier, and it surely did when we were stuck in an hour-plus of freeway jam. For purists to note, in the manual box’s defense, it also does feel like the E30 M3’s manual gearbox, and we only know because we also drove that in extensive traffic jams. 

The manual also highlights an ergonomic quibble of the optional CF seats, which have a central CF accent section that fouls your leg during gas/brake/clutch transitions. It’s a minor irritation, but one that is more obvious in the three-pedal car. 

  1. Introduction / Styling and Appearance
  2. Driving Experience
  3. Interior / Competition and Conclusion

Pages: 1 2 3


bmw Coupe m2 sports

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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