The BMW M2 has long been revered as a potent and exhilarating performance coupe. It is arguably the purest M car of the current BMW line-up with its lightweight, rear wheel drive and short-wheel base that harkens back to the iconic E36 M3. The first generation M2 has engendered a loyal fan base of owners and enthusiasts, and rightly so. The M2 CS, that I tested in 2022 was an incredibly capable car, and the first generation M2 is clearly a tough act to follow. However, after a week with the latest incarnation of the M2, BMW has clearly raised the bar.  

Exterior Design: From the moment you lay eyes on the new BMW M2, its aggressive design, bold lines and contours exude a sense of purpose and power. The clean surfaces, flared arches and wide stance are a clear indication of its intended purpose and are accentuated with the compact design. The front is dominated by the wide frameless signature BMW grill, with the three huge lower section air intakes designed to optimize cooling of the powertrain components and brakes and are a typical of the M series designs. The single front lights are inspired by the BMW 02 series and are accentuated by the u-shaped daytime driving lights that alternate as turn signals. The design of the kidney grill almost feels a bit subdued compared to the controversial direction of the M3 and M4.

The profile of the M2 is characterized by a long hood with the passenger compartment set well back, a compact trunk and short overhangs. The new M2 is slightly larger than its predecessor, at 4.1 inches longer, 1.3 inches wider and 0.3 inches lower. It also has a slightly longer wheelbase than the previous M2, which provides additional legroom in the front and rear. The track widths of the M2 have also been increased and now match the M4, overall these changes give the new M2 a wider and lower stance.

The flared side skirts and muscular wheel arches are characteristic to the M series and motorsport heritage and look particularly good from the back and three-quarter angle, giving the M2 a really planted look. The rear spoiler designed to generate additional downforce, vertical reflectors and the diffuser that houses the signature quad M tailpipes accentuate the race inspired design.

The M2 has two roof options, either an electrically operated glass slide / tilt moonroof that is 20% larger than the first generation, or the M Carbon roof which uses a lightweight material that reduces the overall weight and the center of gravity to improve handling.

My demo car came in the striking new Zandvoort Blue, which is available exclusively on the M2. It was equipped with the Shadowline Package which adds the darker lights and finishes the tips of the exhausts in black. It also came with the M Carbon Package, which includes the carbon roof, carbon bucket seats in black merino leather and the carbon fiber interior trim.

The M double-spoke alloy wheels come standard on the M2, with 19-inch on the front and 20-inch on the rear, with the option of jet black or the bi-color finish on my demo car, which would certainly be my preference.

Interior and Comfort: Stepping inside the BMW M2, you’re greeted with a driver-focused cockpit with the meticulous attention to detail that BMW is known for. The driver-oriented layout ensures that all controls are within easy reach, enhancing the overall driving experience. The M2 features the advanced BMW Curved Display, which comprises a 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display. The left side of the information display shows speed as a figure and digital scale, fuel and status of driver assistance systems, the right side provides engine speed, gear, oil temperature and information on the current M set-up selected with one of the two red machined aluminum buttons on the steering wheel. The signature M-Shift lights appear at the top of the information display. The control display on the right side, includes the maps, media and a number of widgets with information on vehicle set-up, engine data, tire pressure and temperatures and a variety of other information and data that can be personally configured based on driver preferences. There M2 also features and excellent head-up display.

The intuitive infotainment system offers a seamless user experience, with features such as smartphone integration, navigation, and voice commands. The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant system which is a fancy term for the voice activated controls, is excellent and can also be used to adjust the air conditioning or even close the windows. The driver-assistance systems provide an extra layer of confidence, with features like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and collision mitigation. The optional Harman Kardon sound system envelops you in an immersive audio experience.

The M Carbon bucket seats that came in my demo car as part of the optional Carbon package are a thing of sheer beauty, both front and back. The use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic in the structural elements saves around 24 pounds in weight over the standard sports seats. They are fully electric with adjustable side-bolsters, heated and include the illuminated M2 badges as well as the signature blue and red M colors. They take some finessing in order to slide in and out, but once in the seat they are comfortable and supportive and are perfectly suited to for dual road and track use. However, after a week with the M2 and using it daily I am not sure that I ever figured out how to haul myself in or out with any measure of elegance or dignity.

Included in the M Carbon Package, the carbon trim on the M leather steering wheel, dashboard and center console works beautifully with the Carbon seats and accentuates the sports and luxury feel of the M2.

Performance and Handling: Under the hood, the 2023 M2 is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine as the M3 and M4. With the latest M TwinPower turbo technology, the new M2 delivers 453 hp at 6,250 rpm, an increase of 48 hp over the previous generation M2. Peak torque of 406 lb-ft is produced between 2,650 and 5,870 rpm and the engine is responsive and smoothly delivers power all the way through the rev range up to a maximum of 7,200 rpm. With a weight of only 3,600 pounds the M2 is quick off the line, accelerating to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, compared to the 4.1 seconds of its predecessor, and is limited to a top speed of 155 mph.

My demo M2 was equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission, which was slick with a light clutch and precisely defined shifts and gear ratios that were well matched to the performance characteristics of the engine. There is also a Gear Shift Assistant that uses rev matching to on downshifts.

The new M2 is fitted with M Drive professional as standard and the M Mode button on the center console is the gateway both Sport and Track modes, the Sport mode scales back the range of driver assistance systems and dials up the responsiveness of the engine, steering and braking. Track model fully deactivates the assistance systems. Both the Sport and Track modes minimize the content on the information display and Head-Up display to enable you to focus on what matters outside of the M2. The beautiful machined aluminum M1 and M2 buttons on either side of the steering wheel can be individually configured to your own personal options for the engine, chassis, steering, braking system and 10-stage M Traction Control.

With servotronic steering, the new M2 offers precise and communicative steering that provides a direct connection to the road, allowing you to confidently navigate corners with ease. The M2’s adaptive suspension strikes an excellent balance between sportiness and comfort, soaking up bumps without compromising on agility. The compact dimensions, short wheelbase, tortional stiffness combined with a 50:50 weight distribution and rear wheel drive make the M2 an absolute delight to handle. It is superbly well balanced and will really appeal to those looking for a pure un-synthesized driving experience. The M Traction Control system allows you to specify one of 10 stages of DSC intervention, which is excellent for track days and can be configured to set the M2 up for controlled drifts based on the road conditions or personal preferences. What’s more, and for added entertainment, the M2 handily incorporates an M Laptimer and M Drift Analyzer to help sharpen your skills recording the duration, distance and angle of your drifts.

The M2 delivers outstanding stopping power through it’s integrated braking system with two settings for pedal feel and the M Compound brakes have six-piston, fixed caliper with 15-inch discs on the front and single piston, floating caliper brakes with 14.6-inch discs on the rear.

Competitors to the M2 include the Porsche Cayman S, Mercedes AMG A45, Audi RS3 an a more affordable option could include the Toyota GR86.

Whether on the open highway or twisty mountain roads, the M2 shines and delivers an exhilarating driving experience, the new BMW M2 is a remarkable performance coupe that continues to raise the bar in its segment. With its captivating design, luxurious interior, and outstanding performance capabilities, the M2 delivers an unparalleled driving experience. It seamlessly blends raw power with refined comfort, making it suitable for both spirited driving and daily commutes. If you’re seeking a sports car that excites the senses and leaves an indelible impression, the BMW M2 should be at the top of your list. It’s a true testament to BMW’s dedication to creating driving machines that ignite passion and thrill at every turn.

The base price of the 2024 M2 is $63,200 and my demo car included the Shadowline Package ($300), the Carbon Package ($9,900), Lighting Package ($650), BMW M 50 Years Emblems ($200), Live Cockpit Pro ($1,100) and inclusive of destination charges this brought the price of my car as tested $76,345.

For more information on the 2024 BMW M2 Coupe visit the website here.

Photographs by James Henderson.