BMW has tried to keep us guessing about a possible M2, but we can't say we’re all that surprised by its debut: The fantastic success of the 1-series M Coupe made such a model an absolute no-brainer. With rear-wheel drive, 365 horsepower, and a standard manual transmission, the M2 represents the essence of what BMW stands for—at least in the eyes of enthusiasts.
Whereas the 1-series M Coupe was created as a low-budget skunkworks project, the M2 was included as part of the program right from the beginning of 2-series coupe development. The changes from the 10Best-winning M235i are extensive.
It looks like a baby M4. It has similar air intakes at the front, flared wheelarches and trademark quad exhausts. The rear end is more toned and sculpted than the 2 Series’ and there’s a clear influence from the limited-run 1M Coupé.
According to BMW, the M2 has been designed for aerodynamic purposes – not for style. As a consequence, BMW has managed to reduce lift by 35 per cent and drag by five per cent over a standard 2 Series. Wider sideskirts are another modification, to accommodate the car’s wider tracks and larger wheels.
The M2 will use BMW’s 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged engine, which features in the M235i, but has been uprated for the new model. It produces 364bhp and 465Nm of torque, plus an additional 35Nm is available with the overboost function between 1,450 and 4,750rpm.
The gearbox, brakes, front and rear axles, crankshaft and pistons have all been lifted from the M4 Coupe, too, while there’s also extra water cooler for the engine to keep temperatures stable. The M2 also features an electronically controlled limited-slip differential – to help make best use of the engine’s performance – as standard.
The M2 is fitted with 245/35ZR-19 front and 265/35ZR-19 rear tires; an electronic rear differential (Active M Differential) will help you keep the car in an easily controllable drift. And the transmissions are programmed to play along: The manual transmission includes a rev-matching function for downshifts, while the DCT has what BMW actually calls a "smoky burnout function."
The aggressive styling of the M2 sharply differentiates it from the M235i; it features a unique front end, large air intakes, a rear spoiler, and four exhaust pipes that are as loud as they are impressive to look at.
Despite the extra content and power, the M2 is actually lighter than the M235i; at 3450 pounds, it sheds a claimed 55 pounds. Pricing hasn't been announced yet; we should know that number closer to when the M2 hits the market in spring 2016. In the meantime, we’ll just sit here, barely able to contain the anticipation of driving this ultimate expression of BMW’s iconic M division.