Dynamite in a small package
A hint of the pure M car soul is back with the baby M.
40 years ago it was the BMW 2002 turbo that excited buyers in the high-performance compact car segment. But for high-performance Beemer enthusiasts, BMW M (motor sport) division’s red, blue and purple M badge is the ultimate symbol of sports performance. Combining compact with the hardcore M series badge has been long overdue. But the wait was worth it because BMW’s entry point to the M family, the M2 coupé, is a cracker.
South Africa had its part to play in the history of that red, blue and purple M badge with the 1976 race-bred BMW 530. Inspiring a generation of performanceloving South Africans to such a degree, the company was fired up to produce the BMW 530 MLE (motorsport limited edition) road-going version for locals.
A unique and pioneering machine for the era, it was a standout in terms of the M badge colours it sported, its distinctive front and rear spoilers and a particularly dynamic driving experience that was aided by the car’s unique dogleg 5-speed gearbox. Besides performance, the car had soul, heaps of it, a quality sadly lacking in many of today’s technically proficient vehicles.
A couple of laps around the track at the Franschhoek Motor Museum in the M2 do not constitute a real test. It was more of an hors d’oevre rather than a main meal. But what it did reveal was a hint of soul. And I’m willing to bet that the 6-speed manual (not tested) may offer even more of a suggestion of this.
There’s more than a hint of the M2’s prowess in its athletic features. Its lowslung, wide stance, hefty air intakes, muscular flanks and M gills and sloping rear together with twin tailpipe exhaust system all reflecting the inspiration that has come from BMW’s motor racing history.
Essential for high-performance cars are cooling and oil pressure stability. Both have been addressed, with the M2 benefitting from an additional radiator, while a modified oil sump secures constant oil supply and pressure. To ensure reliability, a number of the M2’s components have been sourced from its M3 and M4 siblings – the axle, brakes, pistons, crankshaft and M Servotronic steering settings among them.
There was little time to take note of
It may have been a blisteringly quick sample, but on the track the M2 is a delight to drive. It did feel more like the older and purer M cars of the past; less watered down, more authentic.
Athletic and dynamic styling that the M2 transfers to the track. Nipping on the heels of its larger siblings, this hooligan posted a sub-8 minute lap time of 7mins 58 secs on the famed 21km Nürburgring circuit.