BMW M2 CompetitionCars 

2019 BMW M2 Competition Review

As if the BMW M2 wasn’t wild enough, BMW wanted to give its second stage of life a bit more pep. More power, more torque and more fun.

Words: Peter Anderson 
Images: Matthew Hatton
Co-pilot: Philip Siu

By far our most popular video in 2018 was the BMW M140i vs M2. They’re both amazing cars but for me, if I had the money, I’d choose the M2. It was a tougher choice than, I thought, though. I’d genuinely have both at the same time.

BMW must have seen that video, because not long after, Munich confirmed the M2 Competition. There’s a bigger gap back to the M140i now, making the choice harder.

History

BMW M2
The LCI M2 from 2017.

You can probably trace fast two-door fun from BMW back decades, but the reality is a little less lengthy. The first 1 Series spawned two properly fast coupes – the M135i and 1M.

The 135i made its debut in in the E82 Coupe and E88 convertible. Power came from a twin-turbo straight-six with a very decent 225kW (306PS) and 402Nm. 0-100km/h (0-62mph) arrived in a brisk 5.3 seconds. It was quick and you could tune it for a lot more grunt. It even sounded okay, but not as good as my E87 130i…

To give the E82 a send-off, the M guys got weird and created the 1-Series M, or 1M. BMW couldn’t (wouldn’t) call it the M1 because of the late-70s supercar of the same name, but boy-oh-boy was it wild.

The 1M was first unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show (yeah, me neither) as the 1 Series tii Concept. It had a four-cylinder engine and was all about harking back to things like the 2002.

Thankfully, M went bonkers and dropped in the N54 twin-turbo and confirmed the car’s existence in December 2010. Power went up from the 135i to 250kW (340PS) and 450Nm. An overboost function kicked things up to 500Nm for a bit, just to make sure. You could only get a six-speed manual and it came with the excellent M diff. Nice.

Bitey, fighty 1 Series M

With BMW’s rearrangement of the model names, the 2-Series replaced the 1 Coupe when the F20 1er arrived. It also meant that the M could go before the number, giving us the M2. As we already know, it has M4 bits crammed under the pumped up bodywork and shipped with the N55 single turbo six with 272kW (370PS) and 465Nm. Rear-wheel drive, of course, and with a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch.

BMW M2 Competition

I really liked the M2 as it was, but BMW has spent a bit of time changing some bits and pieces.

As it stood, I thought the M2 was missing some important spec bits like LED headlights and conveniences like Apple CarPlay. At least in Australia, the M2 Competition now comes with the former and you can pay for the latter.

The seats are better, too, which is nice. There is also a new dash, which makes for a nicer experience and to help with the feeling that you’ve paid extra and got extra.

M2 Competition Drivetrain

2019 BMW M2 Competition

I think the M2 Competition is the first car I can remember that gets more power because of tightening emissions regulations. The N55 couldn’t hit the new numbers so the M guys shrugged and went for more power. Suddenly emissions regulations don’t seem so bad (they’re not, obviously).

Goodbye to the N55 and hello to the, ahem, clean and green twin-turbo S55.

And it makes a difference. Maximum power has risen to 302kW (410PS), which is up 30kW (40PS). Maximum torque has risen by 85Nm to a super-healthy 550Nm. Technically it’s up 50Nm, but where the 500Nm of the earlier cars was overboost-only, the new number is always there for you. Like that one true friend.

It will now cover the sprint 100km/h (62mph) in 4.2 seconds, although as I’ve said before, I reckon it’s four flat.

The six-speed manual gearbox (a no-cost option in some markets, including Australia) features a carbon fibre friction lining to save weight. It also has wet sump lubrication which BMW says reduces “sloshing.” Sure, why not. Hate all that sloshing.

Extra cooling from the crackerjack M4 CS helps deal with the added warmth from the S55, meaning a new bigger central radiator and two extras behind the big scoops in the front bumper.

And there’s a new bi-modal exhaust for more noise and to better suit the S55.

BMW M2 Competition Chassis

When you pop the bonnet (or hood), you’ll see something new – the M4-style carbon strut brace that snakes its way around the engine bay. It’s not about looks, obviously – this tightens the front end a fair bit. Given the old car was already pretty good on turn-in, this seems superfluous…

The new brakes are bigger, which is always welcome when you’ve got more power. Still no adaptive damping, but I guess there just wasn’t the room. Whether there wasn’t room to annoy M4 owners or physical room I’ll leave for you to decide.

The rear suspension now has tricksy rose-jointing, which is very race car-ey. The electric steering has a new mapping for a bit more feel, which comes from more precise control of the assistance. Of course, new spring and damper settings are nice and easy to sort out, so they’ve gone on as well.

As ever, you’ve got an active M differential at the back which is always a Good Thing. I can’t stress enough how much a good limited-slip diff does a car.

And to go with the M diff, there are two programmable M buttons on the steering wheel.

Driving

I loved the M2 to bits. User-friendly, fast and a bit on the bucking-bronco side, it was great. The only thing you could complain about in the handling department was that you knew there was more in it. A lot more.

I’d still have one in a heartbeat, no question. It’s that good.

The Competition, though. Wow. You’d never accuse the M2’s front-end of being a bit tardy, but with the new strut brace, steering and spring/damper set up, it’s now a precision-bomber. The turn-in is even more crisp, the front end bites harder meaning an almost Lotus-like change of direction. Slight exaggeration there, but you get my drift.

You always got the impression that the M2’s weight had meant compromises. The steering feel wasn’t quite there and there felt like a filter between rubber and road. That’s largely gone now, but the way it turns in is mighty. I’d cheerfully go without the extra power and torque such is the improvement on something that was already great.

I spent most of the time driving around in M1 – as the suspension is static, there’s no value in bumping around in Comfort. On start-up, the car is set to be a bit softer on throttle and enine (and you can turn it all down even further.

The out-of-the-box settings for M1 mean the throttle is a little more lively as is the rear end, and that’s what we like. Couple that with the epic front end, a blast down my favourite road and one of my favourite corners brought it all home. You can re-program M1, but I never felt the need.

That favourite corner is a downhill left, tightening to a hairpin. The entry is a disaster – bumpy patchwork of surfaces, high crown on the road and crumbling edges. And you can’t see the exit, so no naughty line-crossing to open it up.

Fire in, brake straight, ride the bumps – the M2 did it, the Competition is just as good. Then turn-in – that’s where the Competition is suddenly on its own. It destroyed this particular corner, which made me got back and do it again and again.

There’s more confidence on turn-in and with the looser traction and stability control, there’s plenty of swing on offer should you so choose. If you prefer – as I do – to keep things tidy even on roads I know well, it will shred that corner.

I think the bigger brakes are also a little more confidence-inspiring, but I could be making that up.

The added precision of the front end means you can really get the entry-apex-exit sequence right more often and more satisfyingly. It’s now undeniably more fun than the M4 Competition and feels almost as wild as the M4 CS, a car I love.

BMW’s S55 is a giant of an engine. In this tune it’s fast, flexible and brilliant. It doesn’t transform the car, but it fills the gaps and just makes the corners come at you even faster.

Should I get one?

Uh, yeah. You really should. There’s nothing else like it.

And there is unlikely to be another one – the new 2 Series is based on the Mini platform, which means tranverse fours and all-wheel drive, if a second M2 happens at all. It will still be great, but it won’t be this.

It won’t be special, in other words, it will be more like its Audi and Mercedes rivals.

The M2 Competition is a truly special car and deserves its place in my fantasy five-car garage alongside much more expensive stuff. It’s that good.

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