With its new M2 announced today, BMW is releasing to the world its latest motoring innovation: the Smokey Burnout function. Yup, there really is a button that says Smokey Burnout. You’ve just got to love a car with that, haven’t you?
There’s a pretty good chance we are all going to love the M2 anyway, because here, surely, is the new car that most closely replicates original M car wonderfulness. It’s bigger than the E30 M3 – actually about the same size as its 1992 E36 successor – but it’s still the smallest, lightest, most affordable M car you can buy.
We also have a strong suspicion that it will be among the best to drive since it is based on the perky M235i. When GRR drove that earlier this year it was clear that a) it was a cracking little thing and b) an M version of it surely could not fail to be anything but an absolute ball tearer.
The details then: 3.0-litre turbo straight six, 365bhp, rear-wheel drive, manual or seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, 19-inch forged alloys, two-door coupe body only, 0-62mph in 4.3secs in DCT form, and from £44,000 with first deliveries in April next year.
As a real M car (rather than an M badged car like the 235i), the M2 gets the full M makeover, from sexy steering wheel to lightened aluminium suspension, upgraded four-pot fixed calliper brakes to sports seats and options like a lap timer. There’s a body makeover that reduces lift at speed and, with its a front end apparently inspired by the 3.0 CSL touring car racer, looks pretty darned good too. The tyres are Michelin Pilot Super Sports, 245s front and 265s rear and developed specially for the car.
As ever with an M car the things you hear and feel promise to count for as much as the more tangible elements. Such as the lightning response and fulfilling engine roar that BMW is promising. This new engine does appear keen to rev. The twin-scroll turbo six develops its peak power of 365bhp at 6500rpm and has its red line 500rpm further on, high for a turbo.
There should be no shortage of torque in this 1,500kg car either: the maximum of 343 lb ft is on tap between 1,400 and 5,560rpm, plus for most of the range there’s an overboost facility which adds another 26 lb ft. The pistons and crankshaft main bearing shells are from the M3 and there are additional oil and water-cooling systems to keep temperatures stable during track work.
Despite aiming to capture the driving spirit of simpler times, a large part of the M2’s abilities are inevitably down to electronic systems. The diff, for example, is the familiar electronic multiplate clutch rather than a mechanical device, though in its raciest mode it is said to offer full lock-up within 150 milliseconds.
The power steering is electric (very good too in the M235i) and the DCT double-clutch paddleshift gearbox comes with all sorts of electronic adds-ons, including BMW’s normal driving modes and launch control. Even the six-speed manual ‘box of the base car comes with a microchip that blips the throttle for you on downchanges and reduces revs on upchanges. Also new is Stability Clutch Control which is said to disengage the clutch to prevent oversteer. Who’d want a thing that does that?
Plus we must not forget the wonderfully named Smokey Burnout function. This is one of the features, standard with the DCT ‘box, that M Division has specially developed for the M2. According to BMW, it ‘allows the driver to indulge in a degree of wheelspin while the car is moving at low speeds’. We don’t know exactly how it works but look forward to finding out…
The numbers behind the new M2 don’t just clearly position it against rivals – predictably the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and Audi RS3 – but also neatly place the car between BMW’s two extant compact sporting offerings. The M2 is £10k more than the M235i (which has 43 fewer horses) and £10k less than the base M3 (60bhp more but also another 100kg of mass, so the same 4.3sec 0-62 time). In other words the M2 looks to us to have found a neat little corner in the market.
All it has to do now is deliver what we all expect of it: agility, precision, a certain chuckability and a tuneful roar from those four exhausts, plus a bit of smoke (where conditions allow, etc etc). BMW calls the M2 the true successor to the tremendously engaging 1M Coupe – it even cites the 2002 Turbo as being of the same spirit – so hopes are running high.
It could just be that this is BMW’s best M car yet…