Dy­na­mite in a small pack­age

A hint of the pure M car soul is back with the baby M.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY -

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.

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