Do you find it difficult to make sense of the recent proliferation of huge, ridiculously powerful EVs? Does trying to compare the exterior designs of SUVs lead to stress and sadness? Then you can be experiencing symptoms of transitional auto anxiety. Inquire at a BMW dealership if the new M2 coupe is a good fit for you. (It’s possible that you’ll find yourself laughing uncontrollably at illegal speeds and developing a penchant for empty, winding roads as a side effect.)

The formula for the new M2 is simple: shrink the inner workings of the one-size-up M4 culture, one of BMW M’s finest, to a more manageable size. Although its wheelbase and overall length have grown by 2.1 and 4.1 inches, respectively, to 108.1 and 180.3 inches, this is still a compact rear-wheel-drive riot of a car with two confined back seats, as it is based on the new 2-series coupe built in Mexico. It’s now got a similar beam width to the M4 but is 1.3 inches shorter in length, and its front and rear tracks are also bigger. The M2 only has rear-wheel drive, so if you require all-wheel drive you’ll have to go for the more pedestrian M240i. The M2’s upright three-box coupe has the attitude of a handsome vintage IMSA racer, despite the fact that the ductwork on the styled bumpers seems disconnected from some perspectives. Fortunately, the bigger brother or sister’s bucktooth mouth is not featured.


BMW did use the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six from the M4 (and the functionally identical M3 sedan) to power the M2. BMW’s S58 engine produces 453 horsepower in this application, which is 20 less than what it makes in the standard M4 but 48 more than the outgoing M2 Competition’s S55 inline-six produced (a stronger dosage than even the limited-edition 444-hp M2 CS provided), despite the new car’s estimated curb weight having increased considerably to around 3800 pounds. We haven’t driven the automatic yet, but the old seven-speed dual-clutch unit has been replaced by an eight-speed automatic sourced from ZF. The manual transmission remains standard. The EPA estimates a combined 19 mpg for both configurations, which is on par with the previous-generation M2 Competition. The EPA claims that the do-it-yourself gearbox will get an extra mile to the gallon on the motorway, as if we needed any more reasons to go with it.

With the help of launch control, the self-shifting M2 should be able to replicate the 3.6-second 0-60 mph time of the previous automatic M2 CS we tested. We don’t care if it costs us a few hundredths of a second more to work the manual’s accurate yet rather rubbery shifter through its gates. The M2’s pedals are perfectly placed for the traditional BMW heel-and-toe shifter dance, and the transmission itself is still one of BMW’s most effective antidotes to driver ennui. It’s business as usual for this fantastic straight-six, as evidenced by the engine’s lyrical drive towards its 7200-rpm redline and the silky growl it generates from its quad tailpipes. The M2 produces 406 lbft of torque at 2650 rpm, the same as the M4, but its power increases more smoothly as the engine revs faster. It’s simpler to feed in the power without disturbing the car’s hold on the road because there’s less turbo pressure to control (17.4 psi as opposed to 18.9 in the standard M4).

The M4’s rear axle, electronic limited-slip differential, suspension links, adaptive dampers, and brakes are all housed in the M2’s reinforced body shell (15.0-inch rotors with six-piston callipers in front, 14.6-inch single-piston units out back). The M2’s eagerness to spin is moderated by subtle tuning adjustments, such as front springs that are slightly stronger and rear springs that are significantly softer to compensate for the car’s shorter wheelbase. The M4 keeps the same Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tyres, sized 19 inches up front and 20 inches in the rear. The minimum allowable skidpad grip is 1.00 g. This is the entry-level M model, thus it doesn’t have carbon-ceramic brakes and costs $63,195 (which is $3300 more than the outgoing M2 Competition but $12,500 less than the M4). But, lighter carbon fibre roofs and the track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres will be available as upgrades.

The BMW Curved Display (a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 14.9-inch central touchscreen) is the focal point of the business-casual cabin and incorporates many of the climatic controls that were previously located on separate buttons and switches. Despite the increased interior width and generous legroom in the front, the hard-shell M Carbon bucket seats included in the $9,900 Carbon option make you feel like you’re wearing the car rather than sitting in it. Although they were ultrasupportive and supposedly helpful for a weight loss of 24 pounds, the absence of lumbar adjustability and stiff cushioning hurt our lower backs. The basic sport seats are more comfortable since they are softer, but they still have large side bolsters that kept us in place.

Initially, the M2’s extensive list of drive modes may seem daunting. However, switching to Sport or Track from the default Comfort mode simplifies the gauge display, making it more manageable while driving. The M2’s ride is still stiff and short on travel, but it has enough compliance to not feel savage on smoother terrain if you combine the sportiest engine programming with the softest suspension mode. In addition, we think it’s best to leave the brake-pedal feel alone (we couldn’t discern the difference between modes), set the steering response to Comfort (Sport increases effort but not tactility), and use the automatic transmission. The M4 includes a Drift Analyzer for scoring drifts on the track, but the new stability-control system with 10 levels of traction-control intervention is far more welcome.