Diminutive BMW M2 pumps up ADRENALINE
DIMINUTIVE ENTRY-LEVEL M2 IS FAR MORE INTERESTING THAN TOP MODEL M4
WHILE MANY are aware of the technological advancements of German luxury carmaker BMW, it’s the “sheer driving pleasure” part that lures a good number of petrolheads to this brand.
While EV and hybrid technology seems to have taken over the world of automobiles in recent years, boasting emission-free cars (not the electric power plants though) with unbelievable acceleration and super-efficient fuel economy, there are people who aren’t thrilled.
That’s because they’re into “driving” rather than “commuting”, and BMW has always made sure that every model it introduces is a driver’s car.
And if the standard models aren’t enough, BMW also has a range of high-performance M cars that will surely deliver pure driving enjoyment to any driving enthusiast.
However, judging from the current lineup of BMW models available for the Thai market, you don’t need to go for the top models like the M4. I’ve driven both and the diminutive entry-level M2 is far more interesting in many ways.
First of all, it is priced at Bt5.9 million, which helps you save 25 per cent on price alone (over Bt2 million) from the M4, which retails at Bt8.4 million. Another M4 model is also available – the M4 DTM Champion Edition will set you back Bt13.9 million. The new BMW 5 Series has been launched in Europe, but don’t even bother if you’re not looking for an oversized “Executive Express”.
Many BMW fans are also fans of the older M3, whether in E30, E36 or E46 bodies, and find that the current successor (the M4 as the current M3 is a sedan!) has grown too much in size. It is also much more high-tech than ever, and despite the exhilarating performance, is far too refined.
Now look at the M2 and you’ll notice that it’s just the right size for an M3 enthusiast. You also certainly know that it’s no normal 2 Series Coupe thanks to the special body styling with those large rear fenders. It has a straight-six engine in front and rear wheel- drive, with 50- 50 front-rear weight distribution. Throw in a super beefy steering plus no-nonsense suspension and the package is completed.
That’s actually all you really need for a fun car to drive. But of course being a BMW, other bonuses include the classic BMW coupe design, highquality interior (unfortunately not as exciting as the exterior), top safety and infotainment systems, and of course, various driving modes to play around with.
I rarely get excited when bringing home a test drive car, but the M2 does give you the tingles. It’s a new car that brings back memories. No, I’ve never owned a BMW coupe, but I’ve been in many as a passenger. During the late 1980s, an old friend with an E21 replaced it with an E30 coupe (318i) and boy, did I love how quickly that rev needle sprinted across that orange dash. The guy was good at braking too, and loved to do threshold braking all the time, even in traffic (there weren’t ABS at the time).
Many say that the M2 is a reincarnation of the M3 from yesteryear, and despite all the new technologies fitted into this car, you can still feel how “alive” it is.
The good feeling starts right when you fire up the turbocharged engine that growls through the M Silencer system featuring four exhaust pipes and electric flap control. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo in-line-six motor pumps out a healthy 370hp at 6,500rpm, while maximum torque of 465Nm is available right from 1,400 to 5,560rpm, meaning that you can forget about turbo lag and get acceleration from every engine speed range.
BMW claims 0-100km/h acceleration in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h, giving it an edge over arch rival the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe, which has a little more torque (520Nm/2,000-4,200rpm), but is slower (4.7 seconds) and significantly cheaper (Bt5.19 million).
While the C 43 was the easier car to drive around the Thailand Circuit track, thanks to tidy handling ensured by the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, the M2 was on a higher steroids level. The front-engine, rear-wheeldrive layout required good driving skills if you decide to totally switch off the traction control.
But that is also where the fun is, and the M2 gives you all the opportunity to proudly catch an under-steer and guide the car through the corner successfully.
Otherwise, DSC with M Dynamic mode is great to start with, giving the M2 a racing car character while offering some help in demanding situations. It allows some wheel- spin, allowing the driver to reach the threshold, but DSC still operates when that happens. The Active M Differential also contributes to smoothing the M2 out of curves, and improving controllability.
The lightweight front and rear suspension is made mostly from aluminium, resulting in lower unsprung mass, leading to better driving dynamics, traction and suspension comfort. Nevertheless, the M2 is a stiff car to drive around the city, even with the initial shock from cracks and bumps on the road being rounded off nicely by the dampers. Actually, the whole car feels like it is made from one piece. That’s how solid it feels and that’s how a BMW should feel.
The M2 comes with large vented discs front and rear, featuring blue metallic brake M calipers. The M compound brake discs were developed with motorsport knowledge that boasts fade-free character even under heavy usage, such as in racing tracks.
The lap times were almost identical between the M2 and the C 43 at about 1.41 minutes, but how they did it were totally different. While the C 43’s superior traction allows you to hit the accelerator way before you exit the corner, you’ve gotta be careful with the M2 and wait for the right moment to feed the gas.
However while the C 43 heads off from the corner first, the lighter M2 easily catches up thanks to its quicker acceleration. Oh these, two are the right pair to battle it out in a track day.
The 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) is an important highlight in the M2, offering driveable automatic function in daily life plus a highly enthusiastic sports shifter for the track. You can either use the shift lever or paddle shifters to change gears in manual mode, and I love the way it allows you to shift down to second gear at high revs for a tight corner. Most other cars, including the C 43, won’t do that unless the vehicle speed is low enough.
For track geeks, there’s a lap timer as well as launch control, making this look more like a racecar than something you go to the supermarket with.
But that’s actually what you can do with the M2. It doesn’t breathe fire into people and you just drive it like a normal city car. The dimensions are small enough to get through narrow streets without sweat, and you can do away with the parking assistance system ’coz you don’t need it with a car this small.
One thing that constantly reminds you that this is a power car is the fuel economy. Not that an M owner should worry, but it is difficult to achieve the claimed 12km/litre average BMW claims, unless you’re cruising at 60km/h on the highway. I managed around 8km/litre in normal driving, and in this case the C 43’s 9-speed automatic transmission does wonders in maintaining 12km/litre.
Suppose you bought an M2 and you’re used to the “standard” performance There is also an upgrade kit called the M Driver’s Package that raises the top speed to 270km/h and can be ordered with the new car or whenever you get bored – and comes with a complimentary driver’s safety training coupon (highly recommended).
Sales of the M2 worldwide have been higher than BMW had predicted before launching the car, and as it finally arrives in the Thai market, this is the chance for true BMW performance car enthusiasts to grab one quickly.