Cars/ First-drive/ BMW M2 | Unadulterated ‘M’arvel! | First Drive

BMW M2 | Unadulterated ‘M’arvel! | First Drive

The all-new entry point to BMW’s M division thrills and admittedly makes you question the need of an M4.

For

Chassis & Fun Handling, All-round Practical Coupe

Against

Imperfect 6-spd Manual, Heavy-weight, Mediocre Fuel Economy

Driving

Engine, Ride & Performance

The 2023 M2 with that racier appearance and a length of just 4,580 mm (as long as a Honda City) it boasts of a chassis and footprint tuned for thrilling handling even during a daily runabout. The new S58 line of twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine off the M3 & M4 now find its way to the M2, pumping out 453 bhp—just 20 shy of the output of the M3’s standard engine. It doesn’t sound sensational but it’s rich in torque at 550Nm of it with a peak power delivery that lasts up to 5,870rpm, making overtaking quite entertaining.

But in all honesty, this new M2 is not a sequel to the feisty 1M or even the original M3. The smallest, lightest, cheapest, least powerful M car actually has grown in size (119mm longer, 33mm wider) is heavier than before (almost 1750 kilos), but definitely more powerful. And this M2 without the optional carbon roof touching north of a Crore rupees on-road won’t be easy to digest either. This personality shift of the M2 also brings some key merits – more interior space, comfortable ride & mature driving manners as well as, a posher interior. 

Odds also are this is also the final rear-wheel drive M car. The M3 & M5 although brilliant with xDrive’s supreme capability, don’t really make us miss rear wheel only M cars.

The manual 6 speed gearbox I am driving today is exciting & nostalgic at the same time. Though it actually is slower and less efficient than the paddle shift automatic. A claimed 4.5 seconds from standstill to a 100 kph is starkly slower to 4.1 secs of the auto gearbox equipped M2. It’s thrilling to upshift that stick - but the clutch travel is a tad too long and the throws feel a little rubbery. Most disappointing of all, try flooring the accelerator around 2000 rpm and it’s a lazy climb toward 4000 rpm with very little speed built up. But once beyond, the real M experience takes on until 7000 rpm. Its throaty, fast and thrilling all at the same time with an odd pushing out the tail during a fast change in shifts and speed.

So, its sealed then, that the manual isn’t going to be my first choice. Drive modes allow you to switch between Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Set it all to Comfort and this is an unrecognisably comfier, quieter, more city-friendly machine than its dad. And in Sport with the M modes customisation, you can change every drive aspect including the new adaptive dampers and a slidable M Traction setting. It steers into corners a less frightfully than before while the body control is deeply professional but still shy of a Porsche.

Overall handling is excellent. The previous M2 was a brute as was fast and fun, but its relatively small footprint meant it was easy to overwhelm the chassis with the engine’s power delivery. No longer. Thanks to a staggered set of 19in and 20in wheels front and back with a 285 section-width rubber at the rear, the 2023 M2’s track width matches the M4 at 63.2 inches. The result is a machine far more capable of putting the power down earlier. That means more driver confidence and more smiles. You will feel the weight but it never detracts from the fun.



TopGear Magazine July 2024