2019 BMW M2 Competition Review
Paul Horrell’s 2019 BMW M2 Competition Review with specs, performance, ride and handling, practicality, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The M2 gets replaced by the M2 Competition. Now has a proper M engine, rather than a ‘modified by M’ engine. It’s faster, snarlier, and wonderful. Chassis is better than ever too
2019 BMW M2 Competition Specifications (European Spec)
Price From $99,900+ORC Warranty three-years, unlimited km Safety five stars (2012) Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol Power 302kW at 5250-7000rpm Torque 550Nm at 2350-5200rpm Transmission six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic Drive rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4461mm (L) 1854mm (W w/o mirrors) 1990mm (W w mirrors) 1410mm (H) 2693mm (WB) Seats four Boot Space 390 litres Weight 1550kg Towing NA Fuel Tank 52 litres Thirst 7.9/100km claimed combined
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WE HAVE recently tested the brilliant M2, and most of what we said still stands. Three of our testers have driven this sparkly little package. I did the launch of the original M2, and this Competition version. We’re all agreed that the M2 is actually more fun than the M3 or M4, because its handling is more predictable and it communicates better to its driver.
What is the M2 Competition?
The M2 Competition (it replaces the original M2 Pure and M2 Coupe) has a real BMW M engine. The motor is codenamed S55. In contrast the original M2 had a version of the single-turbo N55 unit, albeit breathed on by M for better high-rev strength and high-g lubrication.
The S55 is a twin-turbo device with M’s cylinder head, pistons, crank and closed-deck block. It also has an oiling system with a suction pump to make sure oil is drawn back from the engine even in severe braking or cornering, so there’s always enough available to be pumped out from the reservoir. It’s not actually a dry-sump system but it has a similar effect.
Having twin turbos means there’s less lag at low revs (each one is smaller so has less inertia) but their total capacity at high revs is greater than the single one in the old N55, so there’s more power at high revs.
The S55 is basically the engine from the M3 and M4, albeit rated at a slightly lower power output.
To go with the new engine, there’s slightly different front-end design, with visibly bigger cooling inlets. What you can’t see unless you open the bonnet is a rather lovely carbonfibre engine-bay brace. This reduces any flex in the bodywork at the front of the car. That change makes the steering more precise.
The calibration of the electronics that control the differential’s locking have been changed. So has the DSC. That means the car now feels more predictable as it slithers around under power in a bend, and in the M position the DSC lets you do that more flamboyantly than before.
There’s also new sports seats, a dual-mode silencer, and the option of stronger sports brakes, which were fitted to the test car.
In Australia, we’ll see two variants of the M2 Competition, an Australia-specific variant called M3 Competition Pure which will kick off from $99,900+ORC and be available early in 2019 while the M2 Competition will be here in October.
What’s the space and practicality like?
It’s as we said before really, since little has changed, though the new sports seats really do clamp you affectionately. They adjust in all the right ways too, even for the width of the back. Upholstery is a perforated leather, which looks good.
Anyway, in brief, it’s a well-made and logical cabin, even if the materials and style are getting a little old-hat. Compare with the new Mercedes A-Class, which will shortly get an AMG version.
In fact you can option up a 118 diesel hatch to be almost exactly the same except for those seats and a few other ornaments such as the M-striped seat belts. (Still, amazing what a bit of sky-blue, navy and red can do isn’t it?) But let’s not grumble. The driving position is excellent, and the visibility good.
Two people can sit in the back. Some hot hatches allow three, but many others, such as the Civic Type R, also limit you to two. The rear passengers might find the M2 to be a bit confined, but then if you’d bought a Porsche 718 – which is the only comparable driver’s car at the money – they’d be on the bus. The boot offers 390 litres of storage.
Are the controls and infotainment any good?
The infotainment, a very recent version of iDrive, is one of the clearest and most logical systems out there. Apple CarPlay is available as an option but not Android Auto.
What’s the performance like?
Here we get to the nub. The M2 already had the best engine in its class. The AMG A45 has a droney if effective four-banger, the Focus RS and Civic Type R too. Now even Porsche has capitulated to downsizing and given the 718 a four-banger. The Audi RS3 gets extra points for its five-cylinder, which is lovely but trust me friends it isn’t the BMW S55.
What an engine this is. Sure it’s a turbo, so there is some lag at middle revs. Some. But very little in the scheme of things because the turbos are small and agile. And anyway, at 3000rpm with this engine, you still have 4600 left to go. And yet even at 3000 there’s heaps of torque available after the said brief inhalation of lag.
And then. Oh and then. Right through the middle to upper parts of the rev reaches, the surge and the noise varies with every millimetre of your throttle foot, every extra few revs on the dial. It’s captivating. The sound is by turns a woofe, a gurgle, a growl, a biting roar. As it pelts towards the red-line – and pelt it does – it’s singing the combined choir of the angels and the devils.
This doesn’t just give you hurling straight-line performance. The directness and immediacy of the throttle also gives you a wonderful tool in shaping your cornering and reacting to what the road and the tyres are up to.
Glance at the spec sheet and you’ll tell me the version with the very capable seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will get to 100km/h from rest in just 4.2 seconds, while the manual, pausing as it does for gearshifts and having only six ratios in all, gets there in a slightly longer 4.4. Now, you might want the DCT because it’s quicker around a track, and also because it means you don’t have to bother with a clutch and gearshift in urgent driving when you might rather have both hands on the wheel.
What’s it like on the road or track?
But I say this is the sort of sporting car that invites involvement, and getting involved means getting deliciously intimate with the cogs. Have the manual.
The opposite of forward acceleration – braking – is also well taken care of, with a solid standard setup and an optional sports set of discs and calipers that give a firm and reassuring answer to your foot. It doesn’t weave about under brakes, even when you’re on a bumpy surface. Good.
Peeling the M2 Competition into its first corner will paint a smile on your face. The steering does indeed have the promised precision.
Go harder and you’ll find there’s an agility you simply wouldn’t imagine for a car with a long and heavy six-cylinder crankshaft under the hood. It really does dive into a turn with terrific eagerness, and the front end keeps going where you’ve pointed it long after you might have expected a wash of understeer.
Okay on a track or a road, there is a very slight front-end push towards the limit, but that’s there because you don’t want anything unexpected. The fine steering feel lets you know just how much grip there is anyway, and that wraps you in an embrace of confidence.
Still, lift the throttle slightly and then squeeze more power back in and you get a brilliant balance and control – whether you want a neat line or a massive splash of oversteer. Considerable loosening of the tail is there for the taking even in the so-called M setting of the stability control, so you can muck about and still have a safety net.
All the while the M2 Competition is telling you what it’s up to, and reacting to your inputs ultra-faithfully. It’s an utter gem. For comparison, within a couple of hours of driving the M2 Competition on the road I took an M4 CS, a stripped out but still roadgoing M4, down the same route. The more expensive car felt unpredictable at the back end and short of feel at the front, so I drove it more slowly. And it had ridiculous tyre noise.
Despite the M2’s dampers being passive not adaptive or switchable, its ride isn’t at all bad, and nor’s the tyre noise. It’s a car you could use every day. And it kicks up less road noise than the M3 or M4 in their latest versions.
Has the Competition a better chassis than the original M2 Coupe? Marginally, but that one wasn’t in any way shabby. They’ve just taken a gem and managed to buff it up a fraction more. The real advantage of the Competition is that engine.
Is there a spare?
Can you tow with it?
What about ownership?
BMW’s three-year unlimited kilometre warranty is fast becoming a dinosaur as brands move to five-year warranties as a minimum. BMW doesn’t list a capped price servicing package for the M2 but the brand does offer different levels of servicing packages you can pay for up front covering five years.
What about safety features?
The 1- and 2-series has a five-star NCAP rating. It’s a relatively old 2012 rating though. And don’t confuse the longitudinal-engined rear-drive 2-series coupes with the transverse-engined front-drive Gran Tourer one which was tested in the comparable European test in 2014.
But overall, we’d say crash protection for what is a small car is good. Mind you, you might be travelling fast when you have that crash.
LED headlights are standard, and frontal collision mitigation. But lane assist and reversing camera are optional. Also optional are the wonderful active beam-forming LED headlights.