The 2016 BMW M2 lands as an all-new car based on the existing 2 Series.
In 2011, BMW’s M Division designed the 1 M Coupe based on its entry-level luxury 1 Series sport coupe. It was a potent little sports car with one major demerit: availability. Less than 1,000 examples were imported to the United States, and demand far outstripped supply. In 2014, BMW redesigned the 1 Series and renamed it the 2 Series. Now, two years later, we have the 2016 BMW M2. It tows the same formula, and this time around, BMW says it will build as many as it can sell.
This is definitely not to be mixed or confused with the M235i, a high-performing 2 Series in its own right, the M2 is a proper “M” car. Among a host of differences, the M2 has been widened by 3.2 inches to accommodate fatter tires, power output has been increased by 14 percent and the suspension has been reworked with a narrower focus on performance. The end result could be said to be a riot to drive.
Compared to BMW’s current-generation M4 coupe, the M2 is more responsive to driver inputs, but it stops well short of being overly sensitive. On a racetrack, new drivers will find it fun and forgiving, giving a good sports car to develop their skills on, while professional drivers will appreciate the car’s balance and its potential as a dedicated track vehicle. Anyone, however, could see the M2 as a relative bargain, as it slashes the M4’s as-new price by $10,000.
On-road comfort isn’t actually as good as it is in the M4, though, which may be one reason to step up to the pricier model. In the M2’s price range, the new Ford Shelby GT350 boasts plenty of racetrack cred and 526 horses to back it up, though it does lack some of the polish and luxury refinement available in the M2. Mercedes’ AMG CLA45 pours out 375 hp through its turbo four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive, however it’s not as engaging to drive. However the M235i may come in handy since it provides plenty of performance for even less coin. Overall, though, we think the 2016 BMW M2 would be an excellent addition to any fledgling racer’s garage.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 BMW M2 arrives as a four-passenger, two-door coupe that comes in a single, well-equipped trim level. Standard features are 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming driver and interior mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar), heated seats, driver memory settings, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, an 8.8-inch display screen, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio and a USB input.
The optional Executive package includes a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlight control, frontal collision warning and mitigation, and a lane departure warning system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2016 BMW M2 is the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that sends out 365 hp and 343 pound-feet of torque. Sending power to the rear wheels is a standard six-speed manual transmission that includes an automatic rev-matching feature for downshifts. Alternately, there is option of the seven-speed automated manual transmission (DCT). BMW estimate claims the M2 will reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds with the DCT (a few tenths of a second slower with the manual).
The EPA estimates that fuel economy at will be 21 mpg combined 18 city/26 highway for the manual and 23 mpg combined 20 city/27 highway for the DCT.
Standard M2 safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags for the front seats and full-length side curtain airbags. Optional equipment includes a rearview camera, a lane departure warning system, and frontal collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking.
Crash test results are yet to be available for the M2, but the BMW 2 Series on which it is based received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest score of “Good” in the small-overlap and moderate-overlap frontal impact crash tests, as well as a “Good” score in the side-impact, roof strength and seat/head restraint tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2016 BMW M2’s interior benefits from minor tweaks to the standard 2 Series’ already admirable cabin. Materials quality is respectable for the entry-level luxury class, with appropriate padding for passenger comfort and well-grained but hard plastics everywhere else. The M2 dresses things up slightly with racy faux-suede inserts, blue contrasting stitching and the subtle use of “M” badges.
It takes a little effort to familiarize yourself with BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, but overall it’s pretty easy to use, and the large 8.8-inch display is notable for its crisp graphics.
Front seats feature aggressive side bolstering for excellent support when cornering hard, but remain fairly comfortable after several hours behind the wheel. As with the regular 2 Series, the rear seats are best for smaller passengers only due to the low-mounted cushions and lack of headroom.
The M2’s 13.8-cubic-foot cargo capacity is generous for the class, and the low, wide opening makes loading heavier objects easier. Remote seatback releases further simplify the loading of bulkier cargo. Interior storage is adequate, with moderately sized bins, pockets and cupholders.
As a more performance-focused car, the 2016 BMW M2 makes some sacrifices in everyday drivability. The suspension is rather stiff, and road noise is ever-present and can be intrusive on coarse asphalt. Unlike on some other rival models, you can’t get the M2 with an adaptive suspension.
None of these drawbacks should deter the core M2 audience, though. There’s a torrent of power from just off idle all the way to redline, and the transmission ratios are well spaced to keep that power on tap. The engine and exhaust emit a burly growl at idle that grows to a mechanical howl as revs climb. It sounds great and even better, it’s all real (Some other M cars enhance it with synthesized noise through the speakers). The manual transmission isn’t the easiest to operate smoothly, but you can always go with the generally excellent DCT automated tranny.
Handling is very responsive, yet forgiving when pushed to (or just past) the limit. It’s an excellent car for drivers who want to sharpen their skills, and poses enough of a challenge for them to grow into it. Drivers of any skill level, however, will be able to appreciate how undeniably entertaining it is to drive on a racetrack or winding mountain pass.