What is it?
Back in 2015, BMW revealed its M2 to much fanfare. It was, of course, the spirited successor to the legendary 1M Coupe, wrapping up punchy performance in a compact, blistered-arch bodystyle. It delivered in many areas, but left some feeling as though a little was missing and so this – the M2 Competition – is BMW’s answer to these issues. Minimal tweaks have been made the outside of this car but that’s not the point; the myriad of changes going on underneath the M2 Competition’s skin are the real reason you should take notice of this latest compact performance coupe.
Though one of the largest changes to the Competition over the regular M2 is its engine, we’ll look at that in a little more detail later on. Initial complaints of the Competition’s predecessor surrounded struggling body control, which made itself known on undulating roads. To combat this, BMW engineers have fitted a new front strut brace to the Competition, while the mapping for the steering and active differential have both been revised too.
They may sound relatively trivial, but these additions and changes have been made to fine-tune the M2’s handling which, taking the body control issue out of the equation, was very good in the first place.
What’s under the bonnet?
Under the M2 Competition’s short bonnet sits a new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine boots out the older single-turbo powerplant, producing 404bhp – a significant boost over the older car’s 365bhp. As before, it’s sent to the rear wheels only – in this case via a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic is available too, but we’d save the £2,125 needed to spec the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and stick to three pedals instead.
But because the new engine weighs older than the new one, performance is relatively unchanged; 0-60mph takes 4.2 seconds rather than 4.3, while the 155mph top speed is the same. It’s about far more than figures, however. The way this unit delivers its power is far different from that of the older engine. Efficiency is pretty much on-par for the segment too, with BMW claiming 30.7mpg and 227g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s best to just dive in and state it: The M2 Competition is an excellent car to drive. One of the biggest standouts for us was the ride – it manages to be firm and composed yet doesn’t exhibit that sharp-edged feel which makes many cars uncomfortable on UK roads. There’s no option to adjust it, and that’s ideal as it’s perfect just the way it is. It makes the car feel so much more settled when travelling at speed than it did before.
Then there’s the steering. It’s communicative and direct, so when coupled to the M2 Competition’s inherent balance allows you to accurately place the car. It’s spot-on in Sport mode (you can change the steering’s settings), but it’s just a touch too weighed in Sport+. The engine meanwhile punches hard lower down the rev range, but it’s just as happy being revved out. On start-up, the exhaust puts out a demonic crackle too – so much so that during our time with the car it set off the alarm of a Volvo parked next to it.
How does it look?
Crucial to the original M2’s appeal was its compact, bulbous proportions. It was all flared arches, big wheels and, in truth, quite a bit of aggression. It’s pleasing to see that these all remain in the M2 Competition, bolstered only by the addition of a high-gloss kidney grille, a new front apron with larger air intakes and redesigned M-style mirrors, which are similar to those found on the larger M3 and M4 cars.
Two new exterior colours are available too – Sunset Orange and Hockenheim Silver. Our test car was finished in the former, and it did help to make it even more noticeable though even in more subdued shades the M2 Competition is hardly what you’d call a shrinking violet.
What’s it like inside?
The M2 Competition’s interior remains unashamedly BMW. Everything is solid, well-built and made with the driver in mind (the driving position is spot-on, for instance), even if it is all a little lacklustre. Bearing in mind that even without any option boxes ticked the M2 Competition comes in at just shy of £50,000, we could expect a little more flair from the cabin. That said, the seats are comfortable and provide a good amount of support and though it may be a little cramped in the rear seats, there’s enough room for most passengers to spend time back there – if only for a short period.
Open the bootlid and you’ll find 390 litres of space to use, which is more than you’ll find in a Volkswagen Golf.
What’s the spec like?
There’s enough standard equipment included to justify the M2 Competition’s price (when you exclude the way it drives, at least). BMW’s full satellite navigation and media system is a key component in the cabin, while you also get full leather upholstery and carbon-fibre trim pieces. The previously mentioned sports seats are included too, and these come alongside automatic air conditioning, a multifunction steering wheel and cruise control.
In terms of exterior touches, there are the standard-fit 19-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels along with a variety of gloss black trim pieces. It’s a comprehensive list of equipment, and should mean that you don’t need to tick too many optional extras boxes.
The first-generation M2 came so close to being all-perfect. Back when it was released, it seemed that it wouldn’t be able to achieve the same dynamic excellence that the older 1M had – but that was before this Competition arrived. It’s a fearsomely well-rounded product, this one, both in terms of its driving style and overall build quality. Though manufacturers are pushing towards hybrids and all-wheel-drive to deliver performance, it’s refreshing that a car with a petrol engine powering just the rear wheels can still be this good – and the M2 Competition really is that good.
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