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2023 BMW M2 First Drive: Enjoy it while it lasts

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The 2023 BMW M2 is what we’ve all been waiting for. The M2 line, which includes the M2, M2 Competition and M2 CS, has stolen our hearts in just one generation, capturing the small, high-performance BMW spirit that other models of larger size and power have lost. Now it’s back in its second generation, but BMW hasn’t strayed too far from its original formula of success.

This new M2, like the previous Competition and CS versions, borrows its powertrain from the M3/M4. This means that the 3.0 liter twin-turbo inline 6 in the M division provides positive motivation. The M2 makes his 453 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, so power output is slightly lower than the Donner car. That’s 20 horsepower less than the standard M4, but the same amount of torque. There’s no competition version for now, but don’t be surprised if BMW introduces one.

Shifting is by either a 6-speed manual transmission lifted from the M3/M4 or an 8-speed automatic. Both are free options, but what we appreciate most is their continued commitment to offering manual transmissions. Like other BMW manual transmissions, this one is rubbery, but features a slow throw and a great shift knob. Compared to the M4’s shifter, there’s minimal improvement in feedback when you’re in gear, making the M2’s manual a little more enjoyable to use. We didn’t get a chance to test the automatic at BMW’s first drive event, but when mimicking the M3/M4’s transmission, it’s a smooth shifter when touring around town and features a quick enough response when swapping. is. Transition to a more aggressive drive mode. We miss the sharpness of the M2’s dual-clutch automatic, but the trade-off for refinement in everyday driving is something we can accept. Manuals are highly recommended regardless of performance. This kind of car will not exist forever.

Like its 2 Series donor car, the M2 is built on the same modular platform as other rear-wheel-drive BMWs. It is also longer, wider and lower than the previous model. At just 4.3 inches shorter than the M4, the modern M4 is a big, heavy car. So is the M2 as well. In fact, the manual check curb weight is 3,814 pounds. Auto is 3,867. That’s only about 15 pounds less. At least the M2 is rear-wheel drive only, exactly as the M gods intended.

That new sheet metal is controversial, to say the least. BMW may not have applied its big grille aesthetic, but it’s boxy and polarizing with sharp angles everywhere you look. The massive fenders are its most appealing quality, and if you’re in doubt about its style in photos, it’s worth going to see the M2 in person for a second opinion. I came to love and appreciate quirkiness. Other than the usual quad exhaust sticking out the back, the car doesn’t look like his M4 at all. This is good because the design he is one of the two biggest differences.

The M4’s chassis reinforcement, stiffening components and suspension design carry over to the M2 in typical M Frankenstein fashion. The M2 shares BMW’s adjustable brake-by-wire braking system, 10-mode stability control intervention system, rev-matched downshift program (which can be easily turned off), and even the same staggered-sized wheels, so that’s all not. tire. With so many similarities to the M4, it’s no surprise that the M2 shares many of his driving qualities with its slightly larger brother, including ride quality, engine feel, steering, and braking. That said, the M2’s smaller footprint still imbues it with its own character.

Accelerating from a stop, you can immediately tell the M2 has plenty of power. The rear end surges forward with joy as it wriggles behind you first. As soon as you shift into second, the fat torque of the inline 6 sends the rear end into another sideways scramble, quickly finding enough traction for rapid acceleration. It’s all a bit theatrical and silly, for silly comparisons to the more stable M4: 60 mph is reached in 4.1 seconds manually. 3.9 seconds in automatic. The M4 manual does it in the same 4.1 seconds, but the more powerful auto-only Competition drops it to 3.8 seconds. The engine and exhaust sounds are familiar, and there’s no doubt that this exhaust has a nice growl on its own, but less synthetic noise can be fed into the cabin.

But don’t confuse the M2’s accelerating nature with validation that the M2 is just as much of a sports coupe rumble as before. Like the regular 2 Series, the new M2 smooths out some of the jagged edges of the previous car. Outward-facing models can bite you if you’re not aware of that tendency.Combining a short wheelbase with strong rear-wheel power, results like this are inevitable. The new M2, on the other hand, throws the old car’s chaotic personality back a few notches by being more predictable and less likely to step on you, which tries to carry on the character of his previous M2 Despite BMW’s efforts.

BMW has fitted stiffer springs in the front and softer springs in the rear, so the first turn-in reveals a sharper front end than the M4. The goal here was to give the M2 a more responsive and tighter front-end response than the M4, but just as the M2 in front was constantly moving and talking to you from behind, the rear end It was also about keeping the . It works to some extent, but it’s hard to drive and I loved the old M2 that wasn’t fastened down.

What’s undeniable about the new M2 is a performance upgrade over its predecessor. Finally, BMW supplies the M2 with electronically controlled adaptive dampers. Outside of CS, the old M2 and M2 Competition were stuck with passive dampers only. Just as we’d hoped, this makes the M2 forgiving and comfortable on long highway slogs, but with the tap of a few buttons the chassis noticeably drops for more intensive use. The damper’s Sport Plus mode might be the ideal setting for the track, but the level of damping was surprisingly acceptable for use on twisty roads. Just like the new M3 and M4, this suspension doesn’t overwhelm you with unrelenting stiffness. Instead, choose a waypoint that recognizes that not all roads in the world are smooth as glass.

As you steer into corners for the first time, unless you’re driving a modern M3/M4, you’ll be surprised at how light the steering rack is. Thankfully, BMW continues its journey of reminding us that heavy steering is not always good steering. This M2 is tuned to that philosophy and better.

Many of the new M2’s influential updates are introduced inside the cabin. Particularly noteworthy are the optional carbon bucket seats and the new curved display that runs BMW’s latest technological interface. The seats may be prohibitively expensive as part of the $9,900 carbon package, but they are a great temptation for those who like to sit low in their sports cars. I’ve tried both the standard seat and the carbon bucket borrowed from the M4, and slipping into the gorgeous carbon seat that keeps your body in place regardless of G changes the overall attitude of every ride .

Consisting of a 12.3-inch digital cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment system, the curved display makes the old M2 setup look deceptively old and sad. But once you start using your shiny new screen, you might start to like the beautiful simplicity of the old M2. None of the available screen display modes offer a traditional round tachometer, which BMW flaunts with an edgy vertical or diagonal rev counter (or loses the plot if you prefer). It’s hard to read, especially if you really want a manual transmission octopus. The graphics may speak to some drivers and even the designers of his BMW, but why not at least offer a traditional layout option unlike most other automakers, where customization is digital in the first place Isn’t it an advantage of the instrument panel?

Then we turn our attention to the infotainment system and we find the first M2 to feature both Apple CarPlay. and A feature of Android Auto. The primarily touch-controlled climate system and infotainment are less user-friendly than what BMW has offered in the past, and buying the M2 as your daily driver is no doubt an annoyance on its own. Looking over the rest, the new M2 is the most luxurious to date. Neat touches like M tricolor graphics on the doors, a design/feature set derived from the 3 Series, and optional tech features (HUD, wireless phone charging, and more) are plentiful if you need them.

As the M2 grows in size, improves performance and adds more fancy features, its price rises accordingly.The original M2, launched in 2016, started at just $52,695. This new M2 starts at $63,195. Adjusted for higher-than-normal inflation, the numbers are certainly higher, but even with a bit of initial sticker shock, the new M2 looks like a hefty price tag.

The new M2 is significantly shorter than its predecessor and boils down to a more budget-friendly M4 with unique styling. The two drive more similar than before, but the M2 is still up for grabs if you prefer a small, spunky sports car.

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