At Motor Authority we like cars that are fun to drive fast, so we stand up and take notice when BMW releases a new M model. M cars have defined engaged driving excitement for ages, but recent examples have become a little too digital for our tastes.
That’s not the case with the new BMW M2. Based on the brand’s smallest car, it is replete with tried-and-true performance equipment.
It all starts under the hood, where BMW’s twin-scroll-turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine cranks out 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. The torque peak is available over a wide rev range from 1,400 rpm to 5,560 rpm, and an overboost function pushes it to 369 lb-ft for short bursts.
All the power goes to the rear wheels through either a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, or—our favorite—a 6-speed manual.
2016 BMW M2 CoupeEnlarge Photo
The chassis is outfitted with the lightweight aluminum front and rear axles and suspensions from the BMW M3 and M4 models. BMW’s Active M differential, an electronically controlled limited-slip unit, works in conjunction with 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires to put the power to the pavement. And big M compound brakes with 15-inch front rotors and 14.5-inch rear rotors, provide strong stopping power.
The exterior reflects the performance of the M2. The fenders are flared to fit the big 245/35 front and 265/35 rear tires, and the front fascia has larger air intakes for cooling.
Inside, it’s well equipped, with some key performance items. Sporty features consist of blue accent stitching, leather-covered sport bucket seats with 14-way power adjustments, and a chunky M steering wheel. Amenities include heated seats, navigation, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, and satellite radio.
There are even some modern safety features, like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian warning with city braking, and lane departure warning. That’s all standard because the M2 comes in just one model for right around $50,000.
More than the equipment, though, it’s how the M2 drives that makes it a Best Car To Buy contender. That digital feel is nowhere to be found. Instead, the M2 is agile and fluid, with neutral handling behavior. Those big tires have lots of grip and when they start to break loose, the car acts predictably and is easy to catch. This is the type of analog handling experience BMW fans have come to love.
The inline-6 is fabulous, too. The engine sounds good, with a throaty note that other M cars lack. Power delivery is strong and smooth and it keeps building to its 7,000 rpm redline. Zero to 60 mph arrives in as little as 4.2 seconds.
We’re especially fond of the 6-speed manual. It’s a pleasure to operate, with smooth gearshift throws and natural clutch action.
Will that be enough to make the M2 our Best Car To Buy 2017? Check back on November 14 when we announce our winner, along with the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection, and Green Car Reports. To help readers choose the best vehicles in the categories they need, The Car Connection is also announcing the best choices in 15 vehicle categories. Finally, we'll reveal the winners of our Driver’s Choice awards—as voted by you, our readers—at that time.