Apr 24, 2017


Bavaria’s Brass Knuckles

The 2016 BMW M2 has just found a home at Classic Car Club Manhattan.  Here’s what we think so far.

Living in New York, its likely you’ve been in one of those situations.  It’s somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow, you’re rolling home solo after a typical night out.  You’re keeping to yourself but that doesn’t stop you from blipping onto the radar of a group of undesirables.  You keep cool.  You keep to yourself, but they get involved.  It’s not the big one you worry about too much, or the other three that are along for the ride, the cheerleaders.  It’s the little guy.  The angry one, the instigator.  The explosive one.  You always have to look out for the little guy.  The BMW M2 is that little guy.

In 20 years from now, you won’t find the M2 in a museum for its looks.  That honor will stick with the Italian’s for now.  It’s not that the M2 is ugly, rather, it seems to suffer from a bit of  schizophrenia.  From 30 feet away, it’s a stout little car.  It’s a bit plump.  A wee rounded.  It could easily slide into a category with more affordable European city cars.  It’s base trim 2-series brother was never a looker.   But then take a few steps closer, from 10 feet away, the image shifts.  One starts to notice the hulking rear fenders, the subtle tip up of the Gurney flap on the rear, the gargantuan air intakes up front and the double exhaust ready to fire warning shots out back.  The racy wheels, the added aero. The way it hugs the ground. It becomes evident this car is up to no good.

BMW excels inside.   Race seats hug the front row passengers in black leather with bright blue contrast stitching.  These seats are perfect.  Also rather fetching is the leather carbon fiber trim.  It’s subtle, a nod to the composite found so often in sports cars, but here, the M2 didn’t need to bath itself in it.  It just puts it where it’s needed.  Nothing in the interior is shouty or flash.  Everything is where it should be, all the surfaces feel rich, but nothing distracts you from the task at hand, which is concentrating on keeping the road out front in check.    For a sports coupe, the rear seats are very usable.  While you’re not going to shuffle LaBron around town, a regular sized adult can handle a bit of a journey from the back seat.

This is where the M2 impresses most.  At the heart of the matter is BMW’s newly-developed N55 three-liter twin turbo straight-6 which develops an impressive 365bhp that can slingshot the manual version (like CCC’s) to 62mph in a mere 4.5 seconds.  Aluminum front and rear axles keep things light, an electronic differential and a race tuned dynamic stability control come together to create a car that’s ferocious in the corners and equally scary on acceleration.   Driving around town, which is as best as we’ve been able to do with the car the week we’ve had it, unveils a few startling things about the M2.  First is the acceleration.  It’s a punch in the gut.  It comes on hard when one unleashes the torques and the sticky Michelins put the power down effectively.   The revs climb quickly and the driver must load the six-speed manual into the next gear, as 7,000 revs come fast.  Shifting gears is a treat.  The gear selector is right where you want it and it’s just a small nock up and down to get the short throw from first to second, second to third and up the gearbox.  On the way down the gears, the box M2 will give you an auto rev match, throwing in a fun blip in between gears to make sure the rear doesn’t lock up and send the car spinning into the trees.  For the purist, a click to “sport plus” mode will remove the rev match and let the drive tame the monster with his or her own heal toe shifting.  Corners are nothing.  The M2 devours them, as long as you stay on the throttle.  Given the car’s stout dimensions, one can feel the rear wheels wanting to escape the pull of the front and come around, keep on the power and trust the electronics and the M2 keeps everything tidy.  Very little body roll is felt, nervousness is ironed out, but it does feel alive, reminding you it’s the small guy to look out for.

In a sea of M3s and M4s, there’s something very special about the M2.  It’s made to be driven, but it’s not so powerful that you can’t enjoy it on everyday roads or get a sense of its personality.  It’s all right there to drive and enjoy, as long as you respect it and remember that this dog has been trained, but it can still bite.

A side note, this car also gets 35 miles per gallon,  so hoon with less guilt.