Go the mini
Takes on Tasmania’s best roads for the launch of the M2, BMW M’s new cheapest model
TWO, Right, Up. In rally codriver speak this means the second tightest corner imaginable, heading right, with an uphill exit.
Roadside advisory speed signs generally say 25km/h for such a manoeuvre. Using both sides of the road and the immense grip of the new M2, this figure can be at least doubled; second gear would seem logical but we’re in third.
A naturally aspirated 3.0litre engine would probably pull from the corner smoothly — but the boosted M2 simply rockets out as if it’s secretly grabbed second for you.
Ordinarily using both sides of the road would be suicidal and borderline homicidal but this week the closed roads of the 25th running of the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally allowed the Bavarian brand to introduce its new cheapest M model.
The event includes some of Australia’s best driving roads and even in the non-competitive Targa Tour category, we get the best out of the new pocket rocket that undercuts the M3 by a full $50,000.
Building on the excellent M235i, the M2’s bulging wheelarches struggle to swallow the same suspension architecture and brakes as the bigger M3 and M4.
Under the bonnet is an updated version of the M235i’s turbo straight six, producing 272kW/450Nm thanks to internals from the M3/M4 and an extra transmission cooler and second radiator behind the corners of the aggressive front bumper.
Also shared with the bigger M sixes are the transmissions, seven-speed M dual-clutch auto or, for the purists, sixspeed manual, a point of difference from such rivals as the A45 AMG and Audi RS3.
Helping it deal with all the extra twist and grip is a cocktail of M3/M4, 2 Series Convertible and bespoke structural changes to the front, floor and rear end.
Australia is unique in receiving the M2 in two distinct trim levels, though they are identical externally. The $89,900 base M2 Pure matches the mechanical spec of the $98,900 upper grade but is manual only and pares back the luxuries ever so slightly.
The top-spec has either transmission at the same price and packages common options such as electric adjustment and heating for the front seats, proximity keys, adaptive headlights and Harmon Kardon surround audio. In the Targa Tour category, helmets and rollcages are not necessary. There is a strict, 130km/h limit — but the abundance of 2 and 3 grade corners in the pace notes puts on a smorgasbord of opportunities to assess the M2’s slow speed dynamics.
Holding the auto’s third gear manually keeps us at the legal speed. We need second only on the tightest 1 grade bends, thanks to the breadth of torque — momentarily we can tap 500Nm overboost from 1450rpm.
The sticky 265mm rear Michelin Pilot Super Sports do a great job of transferring all that torque to the ground and the Active M differential keeps them working in harmony.
Ample suspension travel and beautifully tuned dampers also help to keep tyres and ground in contact over some truly epic mid-corner bumps.
Driven back to back with an M4 on one of the more entertaining transport stages, the M2 feels more lively and nimble, given its 119mm shorter Giving the smallest rear-drive body the full M treatment has always been a sound idea. The M2 is yet another to achieve greatness.