Whenever a very cool car drops a new generation, the internet and its legions of fans hold their collective breath. When the new G87 M2 (or 2nd generation for those who don’t identify as a Bimmer fanboy/fangirl) that breath was let out with a collective whoosh, and it wasn’t one of relief. When most folks first clapped eyes on the newest M2, their responses ranged from ambivalence to all out contempt. You be the judge as to whether the looks are a hit or a miss.
We admit to falling somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. We wouldn’t say we were awestruck by its new aesthetic, nor were we repulsed. At the end of the day, to our eyes the M2 is still the best-looking BMW on sale today, even if that’s damning with faint praise. Over the course of our time with it, the much smaller grille and the oh-so-swollen fenders got under our skin in the best way possible. Here’s the thing though: because the new M2 is such a blast to drive, we really couldn’t care less how it looks. And besides, when you’re seated in the driver seat- which you will be, because you’ll want to drive this repeatedly until the gas tank is drained dry- you don’t have to look at its controversial styling.
Helping to burn every drop of fuel is an engine that must be one of the best components of the M2 experience. It is ferocious the way it revs and piles on the speed, and putting up the numbers it does leads us to believe that BMW is fudging the numbers. It seems more likely to the seats of our pants that the horsepower figure starts with a 5 instead of a 4. So it’s savagely powerful yet it has also gone to finishing school, exhibiting the same level of refinement BMW inline-six devotees have relished for so many decades, and it emits an addicting snarl as it prods the upper reaches of the rev range. When you just want to chill, you can short shift this car and lug it around in a higher gear, such is the broad-shouldered nature of 406 foot pounds of torque which is available down low in the powerband.
Speaking of shifting duties, BMW offers an 8-speed automatic that is rather excellent and will no doubt be the faster option when fast lap times are prioritized. Our tester came how we’d spec it, and that was with a 6-speed manual. It’s getting to be a tired trope but it is worth repeating that powerful coupes with drive going to the rear manipulated by a manual gearbox are in serious short supply, so get off your kiester and place your order. As far as manual gearboxes go, it isn’t the most precise and has a slightly rubbery feel about it; but complaining about that feels downright petty. It will rev-match for you, but the pedals are spaces so perfectly that we shut it off the feature right away and never looked back.
Handling, always an M2 hallmark, is still great despite the shocking mass it must lug around. We would describe its cornering attitude as neutral that transitions to gentle understeer to keep everyone safe. For those who fancy using the Drift Analyzer in the infotainment and enjoy seeing long trails of expensive tire smoke in their rearview mirrors, the M2 will happily embrace oversteer and drift until said tires are down to their cords. Credit the expertly tuned suspension and BMW’s peerless M Active Differential for making such heroics easy as pie. It’s a stubby, angry little thing and it gives off a sort of muscle car vibe. We will say this: after many kilometers spent reveling in its goodness, we think the first generation was a little more playful and shaper while the one you see here seems to be a fully realized package and as a result, it’s the better bet as a daily driver.
The cockpit is one aspect where our tester represents a huge upgrade over the first generation M2. We’ll miss the disappearance of some hard buttons and switches but frankly, iDrive 8 is so good that you get used to their absence and appreciate the new digital framework. We’ll also admit to missing the old analogue gauges, but the new swath of screens has crisp resolution and is well designed and laid out. We couldn’t quantify the noise levels during highway cruising, but to our ears the new M2 seems quieter and boasts more refinement which will be appreciated on long commutes and road trips. The latter of these two contexts is where we silently thanked the person who spec’d our tester without the carbon fibre bucket seats that are an option. The regular seats are a much better bet for day-to-day use and still offer a good deal of lateral support for when the going gets zesty. Really, the only people who won’t love the new digs are those seated out back- anyone approaching six feet in height will have to crane their necks awkwardly downward, courtesy of that sloping roofline.
There are some other blemishes on the M2’s record, but none of them are meaningfully awful. We’ve already covered the polarizing styling and the less then commodious rear seats, but the biggest issue we found wasn’t with any of the mechanical bits, nor did we get upset over the lack of technology and features. Even the price tag seems to be fair. No, the main source of any disdain we’d aim at the M2 would be its weight. At 1,699 kilos this is a bewilderingly heavy machine, especially so when you consider its smallish footprint. We are not sure how BMW managed to pack so much mass into a petite footprint, which lead us to imagine what an M2 would feel like after going on a serious diet- for reference, it is only a scant 90 kilos less than a Nissan Murano. Handling would become additionally precise and lively, and the turbo six’s might would be made that much more formidable by not having to motivate so many extra pounds. This is just a guess, but BMW should have a CS version simmering on the backburner which we hope will address that issue. If it’s anything like the outgoing CS- one of our favorite BMW sports cars ever- any previous misgivings will be largely forgotten.
In summing up, the new G87 M2 is a brilliant car that is held back by some minor flaws. If that sounds disparaging, it shouldn’t- there are very few cars out there that flirt with outright perfection. With the threat of extinction looming very large for cars of this ilk, it makes those niggles easier to stomach and live with. If you are even remotely thinking about ordering one of these things but hesitate because of the way it looks, we’d urge you to pull the trigger regardless. Trust us when we say you’ll be captivated by this car every time you drive it- maybe just try to parking it in a darkened garage.
2023 BMW M2 - Specifications
- Price as tested: $79,600
- Body Type: 2-door, 4 passenger sports coupe
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 453 @ 6,250 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 406 @ 2,350 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,699 kg (3,745 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.1 L/100km (19 mpg)