Diminu­tive BMW M2 pumps up ADREN­A­LINE



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.

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