Fast, light rear-wheel-drive coupes. When BMW makes these, the brand is operating at their absolute best. This where BMW, and its M performance division, flourish the most.
BMW’s reputation as the sportiest of the premium-level brands was forged in this class of car.
Sure, BMW have branched out more recently into profitable SUVs and large sedans—but the best moments in BMW history happen when the engineers return to their spiritual homeland—the domain of the agile, rear-driven two-door.
The 2016 BMW M2 will go down as an instant Bavarian classic.
The fastest 2 Series was unveiled today after leaks in the European press. Though firm details for the Australian market are forthcoming, we know the M2 will be available soon.
The successor to the ballistic 1M Coupé that predated the 2 Series, BMW are crafting the M2’s story around links to ‘powerful stock’—the original BMW M3—the E30—and stretching right back to M Performance’s earliest work on the 2002 Turbo coupe.
Under the bonnet, the M2 has been endowed with an aggressively-tuned three-litre inline six-cylinder with twin-scroll turbocharging. It’s not an adaptation of the M235i’s six: instead, this is a beefier version of the X4 M40i SUV’s motor.
It’s a power plant that will make a generous 272kW of power at 6500rpm. By default, there’s 465Nm of twist, though a full 500Nm is on tap through the early and mid range thanks to an overboost function.
Additional water cooling is designed to keep the engine operating at optimal temperatures, and automatic M2s will gain an additional oil cooler for rapid shifts.
But we’re cheering that the standard transmission remains a six-speed manual. The stick shift will move the car to 100 in 4.5 seconds; though faster times will be possible with an optional seven-speed M Double Clutch transmission, which can do it in 4.3.
Those times are both half-a-second quicker than the second-fastest 2 Series, the M Performance M235i.
Extensive aluminium additions result in a weight of about 1.5 tonnes with either transmission. M Division have endowed the M2 with the M3 and M4’s aluminium axles at both the front and rear. The 19-inch forged aluminium wheels keep the M2’s paws as light as possible.
A range of standard performance driver aids are designed to keep momentum high. Adaptive steering will offer two settings of fierceness, while the Active M Differential will ‘optimise traction and directional stability’. The stability control itself will include a new, relaxed mode focussed on the track, allowing a greater amount of controlled wheel slip.
Outside, the M2 is differentiated aesthetically by its ‘muscular flanks, large air intakes, and characteristic M gills’. It’s appropriately aggressive. The quad tailpipes up the visual interest and the aural delight, while inside, a broad use of Alcantara materials lets you know that this isn’t just any 2 Series.
BMW Australia remain coy about the arrival of the M2, with communications manager Lenore Taylor telling the media ‘nothing is finalised, but we are hopeful we will see it in the first half of 2016’. We’re hoping, too.