Steve Wakeford is a member of The Redline team and this is the first of his column, Second Opinion.
Now that the 1 Series M is no longer with us (a moment’s silence, please…thank you), BMW has decided that the recipe was worth repeating. And that’s a good thing. Actually, it’s a very good thing. Not a lot more than an M140i gets you entry into the wonderful world of proper ‘M’ BMWs – and when you consider what else you can get for that sort of money, the M2 becomes a wise choice for those who appreciate just what this little rocket provides.
In it’s ‘gentler’ settings – a relative term – the M2 is an incredibly easy thing to live with. If you don’t have a family to cart around, this would be a daily driver you could live with long-term. It’s spacious for a two-door coupe, there’s enough room for the golf clubs in the boot (I checked). Driven with an eye to fuel consumption it’s quite acceptable, it’s small enough to be easy to place in city traffic and it’s easy to park. I’d hazard a guess that quite a few people who buy or lease an M2 will be folks who live in major cities – and there’s a chance many M2s will do most of their driving in those environments. If that’s you – mazel tov! But, please, do yourself a favour, get out of town and use the easy to navigate dynamic setting and select Sport +.
And brace yourself.
Because when you select the more aggressive settings, Clark Kent ducks into a nearby phone booth and emerges with his undies on the outside of his trousers and comes out swinging for the fences. The relatively mild-mannered coupe transforms into a car that can stick with anything else in its price range and a long way north of it as well. I recently drove an M4 CS (spectacular thing, by the way), and while it’s in a different league in terms of performance and price – it’d take some spirited driving to significantly pull away from a well-steered M2 on the same road. For the money, this is a cracking car.
BMW has really done some outstanding work on the suspension of the recent M models. Both the M4 CS and the M2 benefit from having suspension that is both supple and confidence-inspiring. You never get the feeling in either of them that they are trying to deposit you into a hedge or nearby eucalypt – and that confidence builds as you become more familiar with both vehicles.
The rear tyres stick to the road surface, finding traction and drive even under exuberant provocation. You’d expect it from the M4 CS because it is aimed at a particular sort of driver – but even its little brother doesn’t find itself tied in knots by undulations and compressions mid-corner. It simply sticks to the line you’ve chosen and eggs you on.
Not long ago, turbocharged engines felt as if they were running out of breath once you got over about 6,000 rpm. As forced-induction technology has advanced, that breathlessness is becoming a thing of the past.
In many ways, both the M2 and M4 CS feel and drive like there’s a naturally aspirated big block engine with a 750 Holley nestled between the V. As the M2 closes in on its redline, the power delivery doesn’t let up. And while its torque curve is predictably flat-ish, there are plenty of kilowatts to be found north of 6,000 rpm all the way to the limiter.
In fact, you’ve got to be on top of your driving game when you get there, because this little thing is pretty wild when you’re up it. It’s such a fun thing to drive like this if you’re someone who enjoys driving. It just does everything you’d want it to and never really seems to run out of ideas.
At the end of such a drive, you remember why you love quick cars and always have done since you were a kid. It just puts a smile on your face and makes you glad you’re alive at a time when so many car companies are producing driver’s cars like this one. You can take a few liberties with the M2 and it stays friendly – and that’s a great thing. Because as much as we love driving things like this – we also love parking them up in the garage and returning to those we love in one piece. At the M2’s price point, I can’t think of much else I’d want to buy.
Well, OK, there is one viable alternative. It’s also front-engined, rear-driven; has 250kW (350PS) which is sufficient; also has that lovely ‘Sport +’ option; also has a propeller on the front; also has the three coloured stripes of the ‘M’ family. Perhaps the only troubling thing for BMW is that they make so many driver’s cars at the moment.
The M140i costs significantly less than the M2. Where I’m from, that means I can buy an M140i and buy a used E39 M5.
Read our BMW coverage here
See some of Steve’s tarmac work in the BMW M2 vs BMW M140i video review
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.