The most basic of the M cars, the M2 might also be the best. That’s because it delivers sensation with performance, making it a true driver’s car.
In this case, less is more. The M2 is offered as just one model, with one engine, two transmissions, few options, and a minimum of electronics settings. It’s the type of car that enthusiasts expect from BMW but many have missed in recent years.
It earns a 7.2 on our ratings scale thanks to its strong set of base equipment, fun character, and outstanding performance. Fuel economy and ride quality aren’t always great, but that’s often what you get with a sports car. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Review continues below
Changes for 2018 are minor. Adaptive xenon headlights give way to adaptive LEDs and a rearview camera becomes standard.
To create the M2, BMW took a standard 2-Series coupe, and stuffed a bunch of M3/M4 parts underneath it. That meant the fenders had to get wider and the front end had to make more room for cooling. Inside, however, it received sport seats and a bit of trim, but little more.
The hardware is really what makes the M2 such a performer. The lightweight front and rear axle systems are all M3/M4 parts. At the rear, BMW installed an Active M Differential to help the car hook up out of a turn. All four corners get Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires mounted on lightweight forged aluminum 19-inch wheels, as well as M compound perforated and vented disc brakes.
The M3/M4’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 resides under the hood, though here it is detuned to produce 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. That’s 60 fewer horses and 37 less lb-ft of torque than the M3, but this is a smaller, lighter car.
All that hardware makes the M2 a joy to drive. Zero to 60 mph arrives in as little as 4.2 seconds. The driving experience includes nicely weighted steering, precise body control, strong brakes, and a sweet engine note.
The 2-Series doesn’t have much in the way of a rear seat, and the cabin’s cramped even in front. All versions have good standard equipment which includes navigation, leather, heated front seats, and automatic climate control–but you’ll have to pay extra for forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings, even a rearview camera.
Fuel economy is decent for a sports car at a best of 23 mpg in the combined cycle. Get into the turbo too often, though, and you will watch that figure come down.