The BMW M2: Wow factor on steroids
This car absolutely blew me away
2016 BMW M2 COUPE
The word came down that I was to receive for test-driving purposes the 2016 BMW M2 Coupe. While it is always exciting to drive a BMW – they don’t call these cars the Ultimate Driving Machine for nothing – I couldn’t help thinking, in advance, that this car would have two strikes against it from the get-go.
First, I don’t like coupes. In these two-door models, the back seat is either too hard to get into or too cramped once you’re there, or both. And second, since this was to be an “M” version of the BMW 2 Series, meaning that it is an upscale model, I assumed that the technology would be over the top and much more difficult that it needs to be, something I have criticized BMW for in the past.
Well, to my surprise and ultimate joy, the coupe part didn’t bug me at all – indeed, for this type of car it seemed highly appropriate – and the tech part was so simple I marveled at it the whole week.
These two uplifting facts made the best part of the week come to life: driving the M2. Unreal. Unbelievable. Wonderful. Amazing.
When you enter the highway in the M2 it is Iike an out-of-body experience, as if you are floating in an alternate universe at hyper-speed while everyone else is stuck in the everyday mundane. I kid you not: this car accelerates so fast I wondered whether I would reach my planned exit an hour earlier than I actually entered the highway in the first place. I think I still have impressions of the seat upholstery imprinted on my back.
To achieve this BMW has combined many forces into this M2, which is brand new having launched with the 2016 model year. To begin with it is a “M” model, meaning that it comes from a special subsidiary of BMW called BMW M GmbH, which was originally set up some 44 years ago to handle BMW’s racing program, and then brought to the car-buying public, with the M1, in 1978.
Essentially M badged models get revisions of all of the performance stuff: modified engines, different transmissions, suspensions, trims inside and out, and altered aerodynamics. Even the brakes are different – and very noticeable: large, 4-wheel M compound ventilated anti-lock brakes with Brake Stability Control. Man, do they work.
Then there’s the engine: a twin-turbo, 3-liter in-line 6 featuring 365 horsepower (the twin turbo eliminates turbo lag). Then, of course, the super-smooth yet great-feel 6-speed manual transmission with the clutch of people’s dreams (unbelievably responsive). And then just the shape of the coupe, with its obvious aerodynamics, and the 19” black wheel 437 M Mix tires that are wide and gripping.
I mention all of these things together because they work together so brilliantly. The engine feels twice as powerful as billed, so the car is a beast, but when you get the other stuff – brakes, aerodynamics, that 6-speed, and those tires – you cannot tame the beast, but handle it, feeling all the while like you are in complete control. And decidedly in the lead. Here’s a list of the things the all-new 2916 M2 has according to the BMW website:
- More torque than past generation M3’s (369 lb-ft between 1,450 and 4,750 rpm).
- M TwinPower Turbo Technology yielding impressive performance.
- Wider track featuring lightweight aluminum suspension.
- Manual gearbox with innovative rev-matching technology.
- Fully variable Active M Differential.
- Nürburgring tested M compound high performance brakes.
You know, I was driving the M2 around, feeling pretty special and having fun shifting and downshifting in a car that handles so well – so balanced – when something happened that solidified the experience, and the car, as great.
I pulled into a gas station, and at the next pump were three guys around 20, filling up a Lexus IS 250, and they began staring at the M2, noticing even from the front with no badging what it was. One of the guys said, “Man, that’s legit!” His friend added, “Love that color man.” BTW, it was painted Long Beach Blue Metallic, indeed an impressive medium blue that the sticker charged an extra $550 to include. Those guys thought I was the coolest old man they had ever met.
Okay, so it’s a coupe and a relatively smallish car, so the trunk isn’t exactly made to hold golf clubs. Fold the rear seat down, since you probably won’t have any people in there anyway. And there was no sunroof, which seemed amazing on a car of this expense. It did have cup holders (which the Germans abhor), and all of the requisite tech (Bluetooth, apps connections, etc.), a snap-in phone port for charging and holding in the console, and (which everyone does now) a separate climate control that is so easy to use.
Yes, it still had that BMW mouse-like device to access the LCD screen and the like, but for the most part once you set your favorites on the radio, and get you phone connected, you’re good to go and don’t have to mess with technology much. Heck, even the navigation was easy.
This is a key point, and it blew me away: This BMW M2 Coupe is simple. That puts the focus on the driving, where it should be. For the record it is rated 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway, but it really doesn’t matter because it could be rated 100 mpg or 10 mpg and if you had this car you’d be out driving around for no other reason than to drive it anyway, so the issue of gas mileage is moot.
The base price on the 2016 BMW M2 is $51,700. They as yet have very limited extras to add on – this one had the Executive Package for $1,250, with a heated steering wheel, rear view camera, park distance control, automatic high beams, and active driving assistance. Add in the paint job and $995 in destination charges and you’re looking at $54,495 on the bottom line.
I’m pretty sure this car wouldn’t be very good in the snow. I’m also pretty sure most people won’t have one if they need to mess with children’s car seats.
But I’m positive that most people who like performance will hop in and drive, and all you’ll hear is a fading “Wow” as they sail out of sight.
RATING: 4 WHEELS PLUS TWO SPARES (OUT OF FOUR)