The BMW M2 has arrived in South Africa and it’s a baby M car that BMW isn’t ashamed to stick a full M badge on.
The BMW M2 is the successor to the 1M Coupe – a nuggety, short-wheelbase hooligan of a machine. The 1M was great fun but, never got the full M title it deserved because BMW regards the M1 nameplate (which featured on the supercar the Munich-based manufacturer built in the late '70s) as sacrosanct. Now that the 1 Series Coupe is called a 2 Series, BMW has no problem sticking a full M2 logo on the back of it's flagship model. The BMW M2 was launched at the Franschhoek Motor Museum in Cape Town this week and we were there to give the newcomer a spin on track...
The M2 is essentially an M235i with plenty of M go-faster bits. The bits mostly come from the M3 and include a special M differential, M axles and M steering system. It wouldn’t be special if it didn’t have more power, so the engineers have upped the power to 272 kW with 500 Nm of torque when the overboost kicks in. The way the engineers explained it, the M2 is an M235i but with a little bit extra and it has the capability to spend long periods on track and remain reliable under high-stress usage (not exactly the boastful description we were expecting of a baby M car). The BMW M2 takes only 4.3 seconds to crack 100 kph from standstill before reaching its limited top speed of 250 kph, a figure that can be increased to 270 kph with the M Drivers Package option box ticked.
BMW only had one car available to test on the track, so that meant one hot lap and a cool down lap to try and judge the M2’s abilities. Thankfully, BMW organised a host of other M products to keep us entertained while we waited for our laps in the M2. The track at the Franschhoek Motor Museum is picturesque – it's built at the foot of a mountain. It must be nice to have your own private race track in the garden, but I can’t help but feel that BMW could have made the experience more fun and technical. Having warmed up in the M235i with M Performance parts for a couple laps, I jumped aboard the M2.
As a result, the upgrades in the M2 felt instantly noticeable. The front-end of the M2 is more willing to hunt down an apex and the engine feels like it’s been freed of restriction, unlike the M235i. The M2 revs for ages as well and will happily allow you to rev it out to 7 000 rpm. That’s not necessary with turbo motors (as maximum torque is available from so low down the rev range) so it’s actually faster to shift earlier and ride the wave of torque.
The short time on track didn’t afford us much time to learn the M2’s secrets, but the initial impression is that the newcomer doesn’t seem as wild as the old 1M. If anything, the M2 has too much grip. Flattening the throttle while applying an armful of lock did nothing more than make the 19-inch wheels chirp before the BMW kicked back into line. That may, in part, be due to the immaculate tarmac of the Franschhoek track and its fast corners. Even Bruno Spengler of DTM stardom was unable to hang the back out of the M2, this after spinning an M3 into the veld moments earlier.
BMW has cleverly integrated a GoPro application within its Connected Drive infotainment system. The app connects seamlessly with a GoPro dash-mounted camera and then records fast laps with the ability to plug in data from the vehicle. Things like steering angle, braking, acceleration and speed can be measured and analysed later to improve and hone skills on the track, a nice addition for track enthusiasts.
As you’d imagine from a pure BMW M car, the interior is awash with sporty touches. The thick-rimmed M steering wheel has blue stitching and there’s a unique M gear lever too. The gear lever is either connected to a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. To spruce up the rest of the cabin, BMW applied several carbon fibre trims and Alcantara in the doors. It feels very much like an M car inside, but without the heavier price tag that other M models carry.
Speaking of pricing, BMW SA has hit the charts at a keen price. The M2 manual looks especially enticing at R791 000 whilst the dual-clutch model cpsts R841 000. Price-wise the BMW M2 sits between the Mercedes-AMG’s A45 and Audi’s RS3. There's a major shootout in the pipeline...