BMW M2 Com­pe­ti­tion M-DCT

Re­plac­ing the M2, this more fo­cused model is one of the year’s best new sportscars

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

PLEASE join me on a trip down mem­ory lane as we re­visit Per­for­mance Shootout 2017. As has be­come cus­tom, af­ter driv­ing each year’s new­est per­for­mance cars on an epic road trip right be­fore their keys are handed to CAR’S track tester Deon Jou­bert for hot laps at some or other race­track, the team votes and then we rank the ve­hi­cles from best to worst.

That year, the Audi R8 V10 Plus scored a re­sound­ing over­all vic­tory, in the process bump­ing BMW’S M4 GTS into se­cond place. There was an M2 in that clash, too, but it placed a rel­a­tively dis­ap­point­ing sixth. The lit­tle coupé showed much prom­ise be­fore Shootout kicked off and there were ex­cited mur­murs of its chances of snaf­fling the crown. On the road trip, how­ever, not all of CAR’S testers found it en­dear­ing, oft com­ment­ing on its power de­liv­ery that could be sharper and a rear-end that didn’t feel set­tled enough in high-speed moun­tain-pass driv­ing. And I’m one of those who found the M2 some­what chal­leng­ing…

Which is why, sit­ting in the driver’s seat of the new M2 Com­pe­ti­tion as I wait for the all-clear to head out onto the 26-cor­nered 5,4 km track at As­cari in the south of Spain, I can’t help but feel a twinge of ap­pre­hen­sion. I know the lay­out in­cor­po­rates

in­ter­pre­ta­tions of some of the most fear­some cor­ners glob­ally, in­clud­ing the Corkscrew and Eau Rouge, and I vividly re­mem­ber the M2 nearly bit­ing me in a high-speed bend along our Shootout route.

Imag­ine, there­fore, my sur­prise when I exit the car six laps later in a eu­phoric state. The new M2 Com­pe­ti­tion is hugely thrilling to drive but it’s also for­giv­ing, pre­dictable and tol­er­ant of ham-fisted ma­noeu­vres be­hind the wheel as I try (and fail) to mem­o­rise the in­tri­cate track lay­out. Those ini­tial im­pres­sions are con­firmed later in the day when we head out onto An­dalu­sia’s snaking moun­tain passes, where the new­est M car deftly puts its power down de­spite a patch­work of road sur­faces. How did M Gmbh achieve it?

Well, the big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween M2 and M2 C is the en­gine. Where the for­mer’s pow­er­train was a sig­nif­i­cantly re­vised ver­sion of the M240i’s N55 mo­tor, the Com­pe­ti­tion fea­tures a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the M3/M4 unit, com­plete with a se­cond tur­bocharger. Gone is the slight low-rev lag­gi­ness and in its place is de­light­fully lin­ear power de­liv­ery that’s pro­gres­sive from the low reaches of the rev range (torque of 550 N.m kicks in at 2 350 r/min and plateaus through to 5 230 r/min). Gone, too, is the N55’s un­der­stated note; the M2 C’s S55 in­li­ne­six, while still no Audi 2,5-litre five-cylin­der in its au­ral range, sounds pur­pose­ful and po­tent.

Mated with BMW’S flaw­less in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a dual-clutch – if you ex­cuse some low-speed hes­i­tancy in en­gag­ing drive – the M2 Com­pe­ti­tion is a car trans­formed. Front-end grip is prodi­gious, but when that axle

washes into slight un­der­steer, a gen­tle prod of the throt­tle is all that’s needed to bring the rear-end into play and pivot the ve­hi­cle round its cen­tre point. As be­fore, there’s no op­tion of adap­tive dampers, but the M2 doesn’t need them. While firm, the ride is beau­ti­fully con­trolled and gets bet­ter the faster you go.

Elsewhere, the M2 C ben­e­fits from an In­di­vid­ual Shadow Line pack­age paint­ing some trim in gloss black, larger air in­takes, new M mir­rors, 19-inch forged al­loys, op­tional M Sport brakes with en­larged discs (they’re fan­tas­ti­cally ef­fec­tive and worth get­ting) and new paint colours.

In­side, mean­while, there are smat­ter­ings of car­bon-ef­fect trim, Com­pe­ti­tion badg­ing and il­lu­mi­nated M em­blems in the seats. You’ll also find some iffy plas­tics straight from the 1 Se­ries, which start look­ing a touch cheap at R1 mil­lion.

But that’s the only true crit­i­cism I have of the Com­pe­ti­tion. Where be­fore the M2 some­times felt more like a mus­cle car than its care­fully honed M lin­eage would sug­gest, the Com­pe­ti­tion is scalpel sharp yet crammed full of char­ac­ter. Cue Per­for­mance Shootout 2019…

clock­wise from top The cabin’s design and fin­ishes have un­doubt­edly aged but its in­fo­tain­ment tech is bang up to date; these bucket seats are cos­set­ting with­out be­ing cloy­ing; BMW claims in­creased rigid­ity thanks to a new CFRP en­gine-bay strut and we can vouch for that – the M2 C’s struc­ture feels in­cred­i­bly solid.

The M2 C isn’t averse to a spot of hooli­gan­ism. It’s es­pe­cially easy to whip out the rear-end in tight se­cond-gear cor­ners... Great fun.

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