2016 BMW M2 Tested: Full Numbers on Munich’s Mini Monster!

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Source: Car and Driver
Full Article: 2016 BMW M2 Tested: Full Numbers on Munich’s Mini Monster!

Back in 2011, BMW teased us by bringing 740 1-series M coupes to the U.S. market. Ever since that taste of sport-coupe greatness, we’ve been waiting for the company’s follow-up act. It’s finally here in the form of the M2.

Here’s a quick refresher: The 1-series M—they couldn’t exactly call it the M1 because that name already was applied to BMW’s late ’70s/early ’80s mid-engine supercar—started as a skunkworks project. BMW took the suspension bits from the E92 BMW M3 with the Competition package and essentially bolted them into the 1-series. This experiment resulted in the ultimate BMW. We fell hard for its smooth and torque-rich turbocharged six, balanced handling, refinement, chassis rigidity, steering clarity, and adorably aggressive looks. It was like a greatest-hits album, and then BMW took it away, discontinuing the car after a short, sweet one-year run.

Today’s 1-series M

The new M2 is the exact same formula as the 1-series M, but done with newer BMW components. There’s a lot of F82 BMW M4 under the skin of the new M2. Most of the aluminum suspension components, the limited-slip differential, the brakes, and the forged 19-inch wheels are pulled from the M4. Of course, these parts don’t quite fit into a regular 2-series. So, the M2 has big, bulging front and rear fenders that effectively communicate that the car would very much like you the hell out of its way.

Like the M4’s, the M2’s setup is very stiff, and it’ll jiggle your flabby bits. Unlike the M4, you can’t get electronically adjustable dampers to soften the blow. The M2 has its own conventional shocks and springs tuned specifically for that car. While the ride shakes us, there’s not so much as a quiver from the structure. A plate added to the front end cinches the already-tight 2-series structure even tighter.

In the canyons, the M2 has the same grip and feel as an M4. The tires aren’t as wide as its big brother’s: The M2 comes with Michelin Pilot Super Sports size 245/35R-19 in front and 265/35R-19 at the rear. On the skidpad, the M2 registered 0.99 g. The brakes are direct carryovers from the M4, though, and that means four-piston calipers in front and two-piston units in the rear clamping iron rotors pinned to aluminum hats. Pedal bite is excellent and the brakes never feel taxed by the M2’s speed. Stops from 70 mph took 159 feet.

The M2’s six-speed manual slides into gear with short throws, and the ’box brilliantly matches engine revs on downshifts. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional, but we can’t get enough of this six-speed manual. For a stubborn heel-toe believer, it takes a while to get used to not having to tap the throttle while braking for a corner. If you want to blip for yourself, the rev-matching switches off when you completely deactivate the stability control.

Not that downshifting is entirely necessary. The M2’s turbocharged 3.0-liter has eyeball-flattening thrust from about 2000 rpm to the 7000-rpm redline. An overboost feature bumps the torque peak from 343 lb-ft to 369, and the torque curve draws a wide plateau from 1450 to 4750 rpm. Turbo response is immediate and the torque hits in a rush. An outgrowth of the N55 line of turbocharged inline-sixes, the M2’s 365-hp engine shares its pistons, crank bearings, and redline-smooching spirit with the M4’s 425-hp S55 powerplant.

BMW claims the M2 with a manual transmission will run to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, or a half-second quicker than the last M235i manual we tested. In our testing, the manual M2 ran the 60 sprint in 4.2 seconds. For reference, in our hands a manual M4 hits 60 in 4.1 seconds, while the dual-clutch auto does the deed in 3.7 seconds.

It’s loud inside the M2. Reducing mass—rather than deadening sound—was clearly the priority here. BMW claims the manual M2 weighs 3450 pounds, while our scales showed a 3415-pound number; the dual-clutch auto is said to add 55 pounds.The wide tires sing over most surfaces, and synthetic engine noise throbs through the stereo speakers. Set the cruise at 70 mph and there’s 72 decibels of deep and ever-present hum in your ears. What we’d really like to hear is the turbine snarl of the M2’s inline-six under pressure, instead of the automotive equivalent of elevator Muzak.

Talk to Me

As in the M4, the information coming through the light steering is distant and faint. The effort is higher in Sport mode, but there’s no progressive rise in effort in this setting when turning into a corner. Too often the car is gripping hard—or worse yet, slipping—while the steering tells you nothing. It’s best to ignore the paltry information coming through the steering wheel and trust in the chassis, as the handling is spectacular. It’s both playful and secure, and the suspension veritably stitches the M2 to the road. And yet, more than once we found ourselves daydreaming about the perfectly weighted and honest steering of a Porsche Cayman.

Inside the M2’s cabin you find standard 2-series fare, albeit dressed up with M-specific gauges and trimmed with a naked carbon-fiber-like weave. There is some scratchy, shiny plastic between the seats, but it’s mostly out of sight. The preproduction example we drove had us manually adjusting the seats and the fan speeds; production versions will have power seats and automatic climate control.

On long, winding esses, our thoughts wandered back to the late 1-series M, the M2’s predecessor. That little car still represents the best of BMW, a standard-bearer of the BMWs we knew and fell hard for before electrically assisted power steering.

The M2 is a modern BMW, which means the steering is a bit removed and the stereo plays engine sounds. But it delivers the look and handling acumen, if not the irrepressible soul, of the 1-series M. Think of it as a shrunken M4, both in size and price. An M4 starts at $66,695, the M2 at $52,695. Skip the M4, go directly to the M2, and collect $14,000.

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