A few weeks ago, images leaked of the new BMW M2. Uh oh. It seemed as though BMW had made yet another ugly car, though thankfully, the official images prove that's not the case. In fact, the new M2 looks damn good.
It's not beautiful in the classic sense, and you could argue the front and rear fascias are over-styled, but it nails the factory hot-rod sport-coupe thing. The M2 appears short and muscular, with boxy fender flares and a stance that recalls the epochal E30 M3. This is what the smallest M car should look like.
When the new 2-Series came out, I wasn't convinced. BMW designers increased the dash-to-axle ratio, the length between the dashboard and the centerline of the front wheels. Traditionally, front-engine sports cars have quite a long dash-to-axle, the result of pushing a long engine towards the dashboard for optimum weight distribution. Open up the hood of a Jaguar E-Type, and you'll understand why it looks the way it does. Despite using inline engines set back behind the front axle, BMWs have relatively short dash-to-axle ratios. The new 2-Series does, however, and it looks odd, especially in profile. With bigger fender flares, that awkwardness is gone. Widening the car—a move to fit the axles of the M3/M4—makes it look far more balanced.
The M2 also exposes what I dislike about the M4. Looking at the larger M4 in profile, I can't help but stare at the huge negative space between the top line of the wheel well and the bottom of the window. It makes the rear wheel look tiny, which being a 20-inch, it isn't. On the M2, this area is far better resolved. I think you can credit this to a more upright window line and the large fender flare breaking up that volume of bodywork.
This new M2 also does a great job carrying on the lineage started by the 1-Series M Coupe over 10 (!) years ago. The 1M, and now both generations of M2 look like small cars that pack a ton of punch. All three nail that square look, where it almost appears that the car is as wide as it is long. (Though they're obviously not).
I'm not convinced that this is a better looking car than the old M2, which was just the right amount of understated, and arguably the best looking BMW of the last decade. The new car's boxed flares give it a more avant-garde look in line with the rest of BMW's current lineup, while paying homage to the original baby M car, the E30 M3.
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