What is it?
It's the third generation of BMW's baby M coupe, if you count the ferocious, unforgiving 1M as where it all began. Sitting below the bigger M4, the M2 uses the same engine and powertrain, and much of the same suspension. The M2 has two doors, is a two-plus-two seater, front engine, rear-wheel-drive.
Does it have any racing pedigree?
Do frogs ribbit? The M in BMW's M Division stands for Motorsport, and the brand was originally conceived to run BMW's racing efforts in the 1960s and 1970s. The motorsport DNA could not run deeper, as evidenced by the myriad race-bred parts and technologies on its road cars.
What's under the bonnet?
You'll find BMW's latest performance inline-six, the S58 – the S58B30T0 to be exact – with 2993cc, twin mono-scroll turbos, 338kW at 6250rpm and 550Nm from 2650rpm to 5870rpm. Maximum engine speed is 7200rpm, while the engine is intercooled and there's a hardcore, track-ready, wet-sump oil system.
How does it handle?
Very well. Even though the weight is now 1725kg DIN – an E90 M3 was about 1680kg – the M2 still feels small, agile, light-on-its-feet.
With tyres measuring 275 front and 285 rear – Michelin's sticky Pilot Sport 4S – there's no shortage of lateral grip, encouraging you to carry increasingly eye-opening speeds into corners, where it just clings. You'll eventually encounter understeer, but with the ESC in its half-off MDM mode, it's easily neutralised with a bit of throttle and the Active M locking rear differential.
The new M2 is exceptionally fast, and you'll be turning the podcast off and feeling the mouth slowly dry as you have a crack, BMW's baby coupe demanding very high levels of concentration. The M2 is a friendly rear-driver, however, meaning with the ESC fully off, you could happily take it to a drift day and have as much fun as you can in a car.
Where would you most like to drive it?
The M2 would be a hoot around The Bend Motorsport Park's 3.41km-long West Circuit, where you could dare bolt to 200km/h-plus speeds on the 1km-long front straight, light up the rear tyres in second gear with the ESC off into Turn Three and back it in under brakes into Turn Six, enjoying the feeling of the solid-mounted rear-end. It's a smoother track which would probably suit the M2, as well.
What's the interior like?
It's really nice, roomy yet smartly designed with plenty of economy Vernasca leather – BMW's entry-level leather option, below Nappa and Merino.
It's a high-tech place, with a giant, curved screen like the widescreen monitor you might have on your desk at work. Combining a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, the mega-display operates BMW's latest operation system 8.0, which looks smart and is nicely responsive, even if some core functions are buried in weird parts of the menu.
The M2 has unusual front seats with pronounced, functionless plastic mounds sort of in the crotch area. Every passenger who ever gets in the car will remark about them; while you'll be reminded of them every time you change gear in the manual model, as the clutch is somewhat offset to the right.
The M2 is fairly practical by sports coupe standards, with rear seats that aren't unusably tight, and a decent-sized boot.
How much does the BMW M2 cost?
Both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic versions are $121,700 before on-road costs and options. All the paints are no-cost options, while for $14,500 you can get the ‘M Carbon Experience' which adds M Carbon bucket seats (reducing weight by 10.8kg), harness-friendly and trimmed in carbon-fibre; vouchers to the BMW M Driving Experience; and the M Driver's package which lifts top speed from 250km/h to 285km/h.
Would I buy one?
Yes, even if, not that long ago, an M2 cost something like $95,000. With countless drive modes to play with, it will take a long time to tire of the new M2. It's also a much more comfortable car than its predecessors, with the latest adaptive dampers offering a more liveable ride.
That all said, if you didn't care for the warranty – and performance BMWs are pretty robust by most reports – a second-hand F82 M4 CS or F87 M2 Competition would be tempting, with any leftover cash going towards rear tyres.