2018 BMW M2 Review
Daniel DeGasperi’s 2018 BMW M2 Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The BMW M2 is the very essence of what BMW is…or perhaps was.
2018 BMW M2
Price $99,900+ORC Warranty three-years, unlimited km Safety not tested Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol Power 272kW at 6500rpm Torque 465Nm at 1400-5560rpm Transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic Drive rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4468mm (L) 1854mm (W) 1410mm (H) 2693mm (WB) Seats four Boot Space 390 litres Weight 1520kg Towing NA Fuel Tank 52 litres Thirst 7.9/100km claimed combined
EVERY BRAND has a recipe that succinctly explains the essence of what it is. For BMW and its storied performance M division, a two-door coupe with rear-wheel drive and compact dimensions could well be it, and indeed the BMW M2 conforms exactly to that format.
But where hot hatchbacks have in recent times become hyper hatches, with 4.1-second 0-100km/h speed now claimed for the likes of the sub-$85,000 Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 five doors, this BMW M2, at $100K with a 4.3sec claim, could seem overpriced and ‘slow’. Or, with the once-revered BMW M3 now becoming larger and delivering a 4.0sec speed, maybe the time is right for this cheaper, smaller coupe to pull off one almighty coup.
What is the BMW M2?
This is the first refresh – dubbed Life-Cycle Impulse (LCI) by BMW – for the M2 that launched globally in late 2015. Existing owners certainly will feel no great impulse to quickly trade-in their vehicle, however, with changes limited to new bi- or full-LED headlights, LED tail-lights, revised cabin trim and a new speedometer and tachometer cluster about it.
Prices have soared, however, with the six-speed manual-only M2 Pure rising from its $89,615 plus on-road costs launch price, to $93,300+ORC. The second model grade, simply titled M2 and available for the same price with a manual or (as tested here) seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, shifts from $98,615+ORC to $99,900+ORC.
What’s the Interior Like?
For what is now a $6600 jump from M2 Pure to M2, a BMW buyer scores – in addition to the no-cost auto – electrically adjustable front seats, keyless auto-entry and a Harman Kardon audio system, as well as adaptive automatic high-beam for the full-LED headlights. Features are fine, but expense has clearly been poured into the driving, not the plastics.
This is not a luxury car interior, with its design roots tracing back to 2011 and trickling down to a $35,000 base model 1 Series hatchback, no less. Everything feels a bit dowdy and dated, but the driving position is good, the front seats have thick bolstering and everything is ergonomically decent. Even the boot is sizeable, the backrest foldable and the rear bench amenable for two – complete with air vents, too. The high-resolution screen is also a high watermark in terms of usability and features (digital radio, nav and superb voice control).
What’s it like on the road?
There are only two reasons you would spend $30,000 more on a four-door BMW M3 over this two-door BMW M2 – space and speed. Yes, the latter is a bit slower, with 265kW of power and 465Nm of torque coming from a single-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder paling against the 331kW/550Nm of the former twin-turbo larger sibling. With a 1520kg kerb weight, the M2 only winds 40kg off the scales versus the carbonfibre-intensive M3, too. None of that explains why this M division compact coupe is so much better to drive, though.
It is as though the engineers used M3 criticism as an M2 fix list. Its tighter steering is brimming with feedback, its engine is more malleable and less ‘lightswitch’ in delivery, it sounds creamier and sweeter, the electronic stability control (ESC) is smoother and it manages the transition between front-end grip and rear-end slip as masterfully as anything this side of a pricier Porsche 718 Cayman. Even the suspension delivers a hard but perfectly damped ride, being firm yet without the pliancy attempts but regular crashiness of the M3. The only caveat is the manual is more fluent than the sometimes jerky dual-clutch auto.
Second Opinion – Isaac Bober: At the recent BMW range day where I drove the new i3s, I managed to snaffle some time in the M2 reviewed here. It was my first time back in the hot seat since the thing had launched way back in 2015.
Everything that Dan said about the steering and the engine/throttle response is bang-on…this thing is easily my favourite of the BMW M cars. There’s a connectivity between car and driver that’s being lost, even in performance cars.
From the caged-lion growl of the engine at idle to its hardened roar when it’s hard charging out of a corner, to the way you can delicately tip the thing into a corner with every inch of the car seemingly feeding back information and particularly via the seat. The M2 is just an absolute joy to drive.
This might be a turbocharged engine but you almost wouldn’t know it with virtually no lag and almost no let up in intensity from one gear shift to the next. I drove the automatic and while purists would opt for the manual, I reckon the automatic is a better choice and that’s simply because of the engine and it’s absolute tractability; it just suits an automatic.
The grip is almost endless, when driven properly, and not even mid-corner bumps will upset the ride, grip or cornering stance. The roads I drove across were rippled and had crumbling edges, not the sort of roads you’d have thought such a focused machine would be totally comfortable, but it was.
It’s not totally perfect though. The steering is meaty and there’s good feedback through it but it’s not as communicative as, say, the steering in a Cayman. But the M2 makes up for it via some sort of morse code it transmits to your body and brain via the seats; it has to be experienced to be properly understood. Sorry.
The M2 is a ripper to drive but don’t thinks its focus for discomfort when schlepping about. Sure, the ride is firm but it’s not knobbly firm and such is the tractability of the engine and the smoothness of the transmission that it’ll happily creep along in traffic without feeling like its straining at the leash.
What about ownership?
A three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty is sub-par these days, particularly when a buyer is spending a six-figure sum once on the road.
Offsetting this disappointment, however, is a fixed-price five-year or 80,000km servicing package priced from between $1340 for basic cover and $3550 for the Plus package that includes front and rear brake replacement, wipers and a renewed clutch disc/plate. Although servicing intervals vary depending on usage, it works out to be between $268 and $710 (Plus) per service if checked annually, which is very affordable for a performance car.
What about safety features?
Every M2 includes low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that follows up on a forward collision alert by stopping automatically should a driver fail to react to a potential collision. There is also a lane-departure warning, but no lane-keep assistance or adaptive cruise control as are found in the brand’s newer, but similarly priced X3 and 5 Series.
There are also only rear parking sensors (none for the front) and a rear-view camera (without a 360-degree view), however the new-for-2018 update now features speed sign recognition that detects then shows up the speed limit based on camera analysis of red circles. The only problem is, it doesn’t work very well, picking up the ‘40’ on the back of buses, for example.
So, what do we think?
The BMW M2 cannot claim to be as affordable or practical as five-door five-seat hyper hatchbacks. Nor can it deliver the unbelievable speed and decent space of its more expensive BMW M3 sedan sibling. However, for all that, this compact coupe becomes a driving ‘sweet spot’ both in terms of pricetag and panache. It quite simply is a model where everything from the engine and throttle response, to the steering, to the ride quality and handling all gel in an absolutely stunning way.