BMW M2 review

Category: Sports car

Smallest BMW M performance car combines searing pace with terrific grip, traction and handling

BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 rear cornering
  • BMW M2 interior dashboard
  • BMW M2 interior back seats
  • BMW M2 interior infotainment
  • BMW M2 right driving
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 rear right driving
  • BMW M2 alloy wheel detail
  • BMW M2 interior front seats
  • BMW M2 interior steering wheel detail
  • BMW M2 interior detail
  • BMW M2 interior detail
  • BMW M2 boot open
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 rear cornering
  • BMW M2 interior dashboard
  • BMW M2 interior back seats
  • BMW M2 interior infotainment
  • BMW M2 right driving
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 front cornering
  • BMW M2 rear right driving
  • BMW M2 alloy wheel detail
  • BMW M2 interior front seats
  • BMW M2 interior steering wheel detail
  • BMW M2 interior detail
  • BMW M2 interior detail
  • BMW M2 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke foresaw everything from communications satellites to remote working – but also said we’d have bio-engineered monkey servants. Yes, predicting the future is hard, but if we were to have a crack, we’d suggest that this BMW M2 is likely to be a safe place to put your money.

Why? Well, for starters, the M2 slots in as the most compact model in BMW’s current M performance car range, and if you look at the division’s back catalogue, you see that the smaller models tend to be among the most revered. The original M3, the BMW Z3 M Coupé and the BMW 1M Coupé are all bonafide classics.

In addition, the M2 features rear-wheel drive and the option of a manual gearbox (BMW gives you an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard), which should help it appeal to enthusiasts. And as the final purely combustion-powered car the M division will ever build, it’s destined to be historically significant.

Under the bonnet sits a variant of the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine that powers the latest BMW M3 and the BMW M4. It's been detuned for the M2 so that it produces ‘only’ 454bhp, but that’s still more than even the limited-run CS version of the previous-generation car offered.

What’s more, the adaptive suspension and lightweight carbon-fibre roof that were reserved for the CS last time are now standard features. And as a variant of the current BMW 2 Series Coupé the M2 has an excellent pedigree, being closely related to the larger BMW 4 Series – our reigning Coupé of the Year.

So, does all of that make it a match for rivals such as the Alpine A110, the Audi TT RS and the Porsche 718 Cayman? And is it a better choice than its bigger brother, the M4? Those are questions we’ll be answering in this BMW M2 review, which covers everything from how good it is to drive, to how practical it is and how much it will cost you to buy and run.

Then, when you’ve decided which new car is right for you, make sure you get it at a great price by checking out the deals available through our free New Car Buying service. There are lots of tempting new sports car deals.

Overview

The latest M2 combines searing pace with terrific grip, traction and handling. It's one of the few modern performance cars that's available with a manual gearbox. And unlike most of its rivals, it allows you to take more than one friend along for the ride. Just bear in mind that the firm ride makes it less usable than pricier M cars.

  • Agile and entertaining handling
  • Roomier than rivals
  • Manual gearbox available
  • That manual gearbox costs extra
  • Firm ride
  • Small boot opening
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The BMW M2 is down on power compared with the BMW M4 and not much quicker than the BMW M240i but with a 0-62mph time of 4.1sec, or 4.3sec with a manual gearbox, it's unlikely to leave you craving more performance.

Besides, the fact that you can change gear the old-fashioned way means it offers a layer of interaction that you don’t get with those other BMW models – or indeed the Alpine A110 or the Audi TT RS.

BMW M2 image
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True, the shift can be slightly obstructive if you’re trying to change gear really quickly and it doesn't quite have the proper mechanical feel of the automatic gearbox in the Porsche 718 Cayman but it’s slick enough to be a joy to use. The clutch pedal is precise and reasonably light too.

As a result, we’d choose the manual over the automatic, even though it's slightly more expensive (yes, really) and the auto is smooth and sharp with better-positioned pedals.

Whichever gearbox you go for, the M2 entertains in other ways. Lighter two-seat sports cars such as the A110 and the Cayman feel even more agile, but the M2’s comparatively small size makes it more eager to turn in to bends than the BMW M4.

It also resists body lean better than the A110, and you quickly become confident enough to play with the balance of the car in corners using the accelerator pedal. Making sure the rear tyres get exactly the right amount of power is easy, because the engine responds after only the briefest of pauses when you put your foot down. 

Is it as rewarding as a sports car? Not quite. While the steering responds quickly without being overly sensitive, the Cayman provides a greater sense of grip and is more confidence-inspiring.

The M2’s six-cylinder engine is much more pleasing than the clattery four-cylinder unit in the similarly priced Cayman S, if not quite as rich and soulful as the GTS 4.0's engine.

The drive modes are far more customisable than on direct rivals. You can decide how much help you want from the traction control, and mix and match engine, steering and suspension settings. For example, the sweeter Sport steering mode can be matched with the fierce accelerator response of Sport Plus and the most relaxed suspension setting, Comfort.

It’s worth noting, though, that even in Comfort mode, the car jostles you around a bit over patched-up and uneven surfaces, although it deals well with big bumps, quickly recovering its composure. The A110 and the Cayman are better at isolating occupants from rougher roads.

More positively, it's one of the more refined performance cars on a motorway. You hear a bit of wind noise from around the door mirrors at speed and the wide tyres generate some roar over concrete surfaces, but neither is loud enough to become wearing. The engine settles down into the background, too, with a lot less resonance than in the Cayman.

Driving overview

Strengths Punchy engines; entertaining handling; relatively hushed at speed; heavily customisable drive modes

Weaknesses Slightly unsettled ride; not quite as agile as the best sports cars

BMW M2 rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

In typical M-car fashion, the interior of the BMW M2 isn’t dramatically different to that of the regular 2 Series Coupé but that's no bad thing. This latest-generation car is essentially a more compact version of the 4 Series (the previous version had more in common with the BMW 1 Series hatchback), so it has a fabulous interior, with tactile materials and first-rate build quality.

There are enough detail tweaks to make you feel like you’re behind the wheel of something special, too. For example, the steering wheel has contrast stitching and two red driving mode buttons, and there are numerous pieces of carbon-fibre trim dotted around. You get heavily bolstered sports seats, which can be upgraded to even grippier carbon buckets.

Just bear in mind that the driving position isn’t ideal in the manual car, because the pedals are heavily offset to the right and the rest for your left foot is higher up than it ideally would be. Plus, with the optional bucket seats, the bolster designed to hold you in place when cornering quickly can make it awkward to move your left leg to press the clutch pedal. For that reason, it makes more sense to stick with the standard seats if you choose to have the manual version.

The brilliant iDrive infotainment system has a good, easy-to-use operating system, and you can also use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Everything is displayed on a 10.3in touchscreen, but you also get a rotary controller between the front seats, which is far less distracting to use when you’re driving than prodding the screen.

As standard, BMW gives you a head-up display, which places information such as your speed and the prevailing speed limit in your line of sight. The 12.3in digital driver's display can be set up in all manner of configurations. Although the steering wheel obscures the upper corners of the screen when set to its lowest position, it doesn’t block out any vital information.

The M2 offers good all-round visibility by coupé and sports car standards, thanks to comparatively narrow window pillars. Plus, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera come as standard.

Interior overview

Strengths Tech laden interior; easy to use infotainment system

Weaknesses Manual gearbox comes with offset pedals

BMW M2 interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Despite being the smallest M car currently on sale, the BMW M2 gives its driver and front passenger lots of head room, along with seats that slide back a long way on their runners.

What’s more, there are plenty of handy cubbies in the front of the car, including wide door bins, large cupholders ahead of the gear-selector and a good-sized storage bin beneath the central arm rest.

You have to put up with compromises in the back, though. A six-footer will have to hunch slightly due to the sloping roof, while leg room is adequate when sitting behind an equal sized occupant. Six-footers will be much more comfortable in the back of the bigger (and more expensive) BMW M4.

That said, adults will be a lot more comfortable in the M2’s rear seats than those of the Audi TT RS. And, of course, two-seat sports cars such as the Alpine A110 and the Porsche 718 Cayman can't take anyone in the back.

You can fit a set of golf clubs in the M2's 390-litre boot – something that's not possible in the A110 or Cayman. Alternatively, there’s room for seven carry-on suitcases (the Cayman managed four).

The boot opening is quite small, so you can forget about squeezing in a bike, which we managed to do through the hatchback opening of an Audi TT.

Practicality overview

Strengths One of the more spacious and practical options for four occupants

Weaknesses Saloon-style boot opening is quite small

BMW M2 interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

While it’s certainly not a budget buy, the BMW M2 is priced in line with the Audi TT RS and the Porsche 718 Cayman S, yet has more power than both and is quicker from 0-62mph.

It’s predicted to hold its residual value similarly well to an Alpine A110 S and offers similar fuel economy to the German sports car rivals. On our test route, the M2’s 28.1mpg figure (with the manual gearbox) slightly trailed behind the Cayman GTS 4.0’s 31mpg. The A110 is even more efficient, thanks to its much lower weight.

The days when you were lucky to get a radio as standard in your BMW are, thankfully, long gone. The M2 comes packed with luxuries, including a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo, heated seats, leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting and three-zone climate control.

That said, BMW does try to tempt you with an optional (and very expensive) M Race Track Package, which raises the top speed from 155mph to 180mph, and adds carbon bucket seats and a voucher for some ‘M Intensive Driver Training’.

The M2 hasn’t specifically been appraised for safety by the independent experts at Euro NCAP but the 2 Series Coupé it’s based on had to settle for a slightly disappointing four-star rating. Sensors in a crash-test dummy showed weak protection of a 10-year-old sitting in the back during a side impact.

It’s worth noting that the optional Driving Assistant pack that bundles features such as Lane Departure Warning, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control is only available if you go for the automatic gearbox.

BMW came 16th out of 32 car makers listed in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. That makes it the second best performer among premium brands rated, behind Lexus (which came top overall). The latest 2 Series Coupé was too new to be included in the survey, but the previous-generation car achieved a 96.8% rating.

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Costs overview

Strengths Plenty of standard equipment; lots of options available

Weaknesses You’ll pay a premium over most rivals

BMW M2 interior infotainment

FAQs

  • With 368bhp and four-wheel drive, the BMW M240i can officially blast from 0-62mph in 4.3sec. The rear-wheel-drive M2 has less traction away from the line, but matches the M240i’s time with a manual gearbox, and undercuts it by 0.2sec in automatic form.

  • Officially, the BMW M2 averages up to 28.2mpg in manual form and up to 29.1mpg if you go for the automatic gearbox. However, you can expect those figures to plummet if you make full use of the performance on offer.

  • The 3.0-litre straight-six engine in the latest BMW M2 features two small turbochargers instead of one large one to minimise any lag between you putting your foot down and the car responding.

  • As with any car, the cost of insurance for a BMW M2 will vary depending on your age, your claim history and where you live. However, given the model’s performance and desirability, cover is never going to be cheap.

At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £62,905
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RRP price range £65,915 - £67,150
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 28.2 - 29.1
Available doors options 2
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £4,752 / £4,792
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £9,503 / £9,584
Available colours