Motoring

BMW M2 Competition best of the breed

BMW’s M division has a long and illustrious history of producing some of the best driving machines that you and I can, with a bit of hard work, aspire to one day own.

Some five years ago, the M4 and M3 were released and the world not only welcomed the M4 badge for the first time, but also the debut of a turbocharged M3. Under its bonnet was the S55 twin-turbo straight-six motor which still powers the M4 in two states of tune. Around a year ago, BMW announced that, as part of ever more stringent Euro emissions regulations and indeed, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), that the F80 M3 would be going out of production as the brand didn’t see the fitment of an Otto particulate filter as financially viable for the performance icon.

The M2 steps up

It was at this point that BMW had a rather ingenious idea. Its N55- powered M2 was in need of an update, and what better way to give what in my option is the best-sized M Car a more potent engine along with gearbox, suspension and interior upgrades. Thus, the M2 Competition was born, boasting the S55 engine, albeit with 302 kW and 550 N.m on offer and a marginally lower kerb weight than the M3 and M4. It also inherits the Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CRFP) front strut brace from the M3/M4, the same seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual gearbox and seats from its older siblings. Distinguishing the Competition from the regular M2, which it has now replaced, is rather simple.

Up front, there’s a new kidney grille and wider air intakes for the added cooling requirements of the new engine, while there’s also new alloy wheels and a new exterior hue called Hockenheim Silver, which my press car was finished in. This, in my opinion, is the best looking new M-Car on sale, until the M8 arrives that is. The interior is less impressive and is certainly starting to show its age after driving the likes of the new X3 and 3 Series. The addition of the sportier seats and the latest iDrive operating system does remedy things a bit. In many ways, there’s an old school charm about the M2, with the interior likely being the most polarising aspect of this smallest of M cars.

Driving M2

Approaching the M2 for a weeklong evaluation filled me with excitement, the prospect of an M-Car makes me happy, but this one just seems to suit my personality and driving preferences better than any other. Firing up the Competition, the familiar metallic inline-six grumble is immediately distinguishable. While not the most sonorous of exhaust notes, when taking the vehicle through the rev range, there is a certain motorsport quality to the sound being emitted. In terms of performance, the M2 is one of the very few fast cars where I’m not too concerned with the figures that it produces.

My colleague and expert road tester Mark Jones from True Speed has tested the very same vehicle that I drove and achieved a 0-100 km/h time of 4.4 seconds, a quarter mile time of 12.53 seconds and a top speed of 287.58 km/h. But the M2 is about far more than these figures though, it’s an absolute hooligan, with instantly accessible oversteer and grin-inducing driving dynamics. Its Active M Differential and the fact that its torque delivery is far less spikey than other S55-powered BMWs means that the car provides attainable fun, without being unnecessarily brutal. Leaving the car in its MDM mode, which all but turns off the electronic aids allows for you to have fun, but with the knowledge of knowing that there’s a safety net, should it all go spectacularly wrong.

Verdict

One of my most memorable BMW M experiences was back in 2013 when I drove the BMW 1M, and in many ways, my time with the M2 Competition gave me glimmers of my time with its predecessor. I will always hold the Competition in high regard and despite the fact that the Audi RS3 is a faster car in the real world; the M2 is the car that I’d want to drive home in.

Price

M2 Competition M-DCT R1 026 506

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