The 2018 BMW M2 quickens the pulse of anyone who has a combustion engine beating where their heart is supposed to be. Some sporty cars have a civilized side with an adjustable suspension, but the M2 is an out-and-out enthusiast’s machine. The fenders are flared to accommodate wide tires, while bulges on the hood advertise the power beneath.
This is the hot version of the small 2 Series. But it’s also more than that. As other M cars (BMW’s high-performance machines) have grown larger and heavier, the M2 serves as a reminder of what the original (almost legendary) M3 was like — the car that started the whole M approach. It was small, had two doors, was relatively light and was honed for handling. The M2 follows that formula while adding a wonderful amount of power (for the size).
Admittedly, the M2 is a niche product, but what a niche and what a product.
What’s New for 2018?
LED headlights replace the previous xenon versions. The rearview camera becomes standard.
What We Like
Power; agility; reasonable price in the grand scheme of things
What We Don’t
Passengers might find it noisy, stiff and cramped; no Android Auto smartphone integration
A turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine develops 365 horsepower. Under normal circumstances, maximum torque is 343 lb-ft, which comes in at a low 1,400 rpm. But there’s a temporary overboost function, which pushes that figure up to 369 lb-ft between 1,450 and 4,750 rpm.
The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual. A 7-speed, dual-clutch automated manual (with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles) is the 2-pedal alternative, known as DCT. Power goes just to the rear wheels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption as 18 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined (manual transmission), or 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined (DCT).
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 BMW M2 ($55,495) comes solely as a coupe in one well-equipped trim level.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, Active M rear differential, M-grade brakes, LED headlights, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated/10-way power-adjustable front sport seats with driver’s-side memory, keyless entry/ignition, carbon fiber interior trim, ambient cabin lighting, M Sport multi-function steering wheel, a self-dimming rearview mirror and driver’s-side door mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, navigation, Bluetooth, a USB port, an 8.8-in touchscreen for the iDrive infotainment system, satellite/HD radio and a Harman Kardon 360-watt/12-speaker audio setup.
The optional M Driver’s bundle consists of a day’s high-performance driving tuition and raises the top speed from 155 miles per hour to 168 mph. The Executive package brings adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, a heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, Wi-Fi, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
A moonroof and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration are individual options.
Trunk space is 13.8 cu ft., which is pretty good — enough for three golf bags.
There’s the mandatory stuff, such as ABS, traction/stability control and several airbags, but one thing to mention is that M cars have excellent brakes — bigger than those in the regular counterpart. They’re strong and confidence-inspiring.
The M2 hasn’t been subjected to crash tests of its own, but the 2 Series range has received the accolade of Top Safety Pick Plus from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) after scoring well in every major category.
Behind the Wheel
This is why the M2 exists, to be driven and driven hard. Get on a track and even the oil system is designed to work efficiently under lateral loads. It’s possible to adjust the threshold for when the traction control kicks in, allowing for some tail slides, if that’s your thing. Sure, there’s a bit of tire noise, but drown that out with engine noise and your problem is solved.
It’s great to have a manual transmission (with rev-matching throttle blips on the downshifts) to get really involved, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the DCT. It’s actually quicker (4.2 seconds in the sprint from standstill to 60 mph; the manual is 0.2 slower) and delivers slightly better fuel consumption.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi TT S — No real rear seats to speak of and only 292 hp, but all-wheel drive and lots of tech come as standard. Pretty cute as well.
2018 Audi RS 3 — All-new for this model year. It’s a compact sedan with all-wheel drive, but enjoys a blistering 400 hp and costs around $56,000.
2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45 — A 4-door alternative with 375 hp, all-wheel drive and a slightly lower price. An excellent package, but the M2 should have the edge.
Used BMW M3/M4 — For more space, try a certified pre-owned (CPO) M3 sedan or M4 coupe.
It is what it is. So if it’s for you, it’s for you. Enjoy.