The M2 is a different beast — it’s BMW’s Motorsport division at its best. It’s a compact coupe with a tall greenhouse and dimensions that recall two of the most iconic BMWs of all time: the 1968-’75 2002, and the original E30 M3. More recently, it also recalls the 2011-’12 1M coupe, the rare, 335 horsepower rear-wheel drive gem that instantly made most BMW fans’ “best of” lists.
That’s how we described the new BMW M2 when it was announced this past October, noting its differentiation from the currently-available M235i. The 1M, the car that preceded the current 2 Series, was cobbled together from the BMW parts bin and became, famously, one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite cars overnight. Though limited, the 1M was the best of old-world Bimmers despite its piecemeal nature — arguably what made it so perfect in the first place.
The M2, which will be making it’s North American landing at the North American International Auto Show next month, was formally designed on paper, with its own parts. It won’t have that cobbled-together personality of the 1M, but we’re not expecting it to be a sanitized mall parking ornament either.
“Its turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-six is rated at 370 horses, with 369 pound-feet of torque to keep you pushed back in your seat. Zero to 60 comes in 4.2 seconds, and top speed is electronically pegged at the BMW standard 155 miles per hour,” Derek Sapienza said. “Unlike the 1M’s manual-only setup, the M2’s mill can be mated to either a six-speed row-your-own borrowed from the M3 and M4, or a seven speed dual-clutch auto. Proving that the machines have already risen, the M2’s top zero to 60 comes with the DCT – for purists, the fastest you’ll ever be able to row through to 60 is 4.4 seconds,” he noted.
It’s expected to start in the mid-$50,000s range, which will put it directly on the line with the Mercedes CLA45 AMG (which starts at $49,500). The CLA, though, has four doors, as well as a 5-horsepower advantage over the Bimmer — needless to say, we’re anxious for the first head-to-heads once the M2 starts to roll out.
The M2 will be joined on the stand by the more polarizing and also questionable X4 M40i, as BMW gives the smaller coupe-UV the M treatment for 2016 as well. While that’s cool — if not unexpected — the M2 is the big news here, as the responsibility-bearer for bringing BMW tradition forward.
“For a certain type of BMW enthusiast, the M3/M4 is just too damn big, the 1M was too short lived, and BMW couldn’t build anything today that’s better than the original M3,” Sapienza concluded. “The M2 is both a car for them, and a loud rebuttal to their arguments. The old adage goes ‘our best today, better tomorrow.’ With the M2, it looks like BMW took it to heart. Take a good look, this is the world’s latest Ultimate Driving Machine.”