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BMW M2 2024 long-term test

BMW M2 lead
BMW M2 lead

Why we’re running it: To celebrate the survival – and indeed evolution – of the proper sports coupé

Month 1 - Specs

Life with a BMW M2: Month 1

Welcoming the BMW M2 to the fleet 

Is it possible for a car to be at once gloriously minimalist and excessive and overgrown? Because somehow the BMW M2 that I will be running for the next few months feels like both.

In an age when the BMW range has expanded to 17 models and is headlined by brash Teutonic titans such as the iX and XM, there's real throwback charm to the simplicity of a small two-door coupé. And yet this second-generation M2 isn't as small or simple as its predecessor.

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It has grown notably in size and stance, such that it now feels more like a mini M3 than a descendant of the 1M Coupé - which in a way it is.

A quick recap: the previous 2 Series Coupé shared a rear-wheel-drive platform with the 1 Series hatchback. But when the latter switched to front-wheel drive for commercial reasons, the only way the 2 Series Coupé could survive with a driven back axle was to switch to a specially shortened version of the CLAR platform used by the 3 Series saloon.

Power still comes from a blown straight six, but it's a newer, twin-turbocharged unit tuned for 453bhp - a hefty chunk more than the 405bhp in the previous M2. The result is a model that's bigger and beefier in almost every aspect.

However, the fact that the 2 Series Coupé - and by extension the M2 - survived at all is a testament to BMW's continued passion for driver's cars. There's a reason why both the standard and M ranges are full of big SUVs, after all.

And, as regular Autocar readers will know, those engineers have nailed it: the M2 scored four and a half stars in our road test and has topped a group test of old-school, real-driven, manual-shift sports cars.

It's good, then. So my mission here is to find out what it's like to live with over an extended period. After all, this is the sort of machine that really can serve as both a weekend sports car and a daily driver, especially now that it has grown a bit. The rear seats are actually just about usable and there's plenty of room in the boot.

The base price of the M2 is now £62,420, which isn't exactly cheap. But then you would pay nearly double that for an XM, and if you did, you would have to deal with me questioning your life choices.

And while M cars don't feature separate trim levels, you can get a bit lost adding on the various option packs. I plumped for the £730 Comfort Pack, which adds heated seats and the like, the £1100 Driving Assistant package, the £2305 M Driver's Pack and M alloy wheels (19in at the front, 20in at the back) at £330.

After ticking the box for Brooklyn Grey paint (which is lovely, although its connection to the New York borough remains a total mystery), I was done. I did make one controversial spec choice, though: the automatic gearbox. It was very tempting to go for the stick shift, given that manual 'boxes are an increasingly endangered species and so we should enjoy them while we can.

But our previous experience with the M2 has been mostly of manuals, and the auto is more popular with buyers - and, frankly, an auto is generally easier to live with. In terms of styling, you certainly wouldn't mistake the M2 for a regular 2 Series Coupé - not even an M240i in M Sport guise.

BMW has given it a comprehensive and functional makeover, with styling that has proven a bit divisive among my friends so far. Some quite like the aggressive stance, while others feel it's trying far too hard and a bit ugly.

One culprit for that could be the kidney grille at the front, which is just a little too in-your-face. Still, it's a paragon of restraint compared with other current M models.

Inside, of course, that styling isn't an issue, while the cabin really shines. The sports seats are comfy and deep, the driving position is low and cosseting, and it features a version of BMW's infotainment that still features a rotary dial.

First impressions, then? Well, after a few months running Honda SUVs, the overriding initial one was a realisation of just how bad the UK's pothole crisis is. What would have appeared to be minor imperfections behind the wheel of my ZR-V or e:Ny1 suddenly seemed like craters, given the firm suspension of the M2. There has been a fair amount of jostling at slower speeds as a result.

When I reach a smoother road, though, the M2 offers delights like only a RWD sports car can. I hope that sheer visceral thrill doesn't wane over the course of the next few months, especially as I've already started to build up quite a pile of receipts from petrol stations. Being an M2 is thirsty work, apparently.

I will get into more gritty details such as finances aid running costs in a future report, while also hinding ways to further explore the M2's abundant performance. It's a journey I'm looking forward to, simply because of the fact that a turbocharged petrol-powered, rear-driven, two-door sports coupé feels in danger of extinction.

Kudos to BMW for finding a way to keep it alive, even if it is different. Now let me find out whether it still delivers once that sentimentality fades with a touch of familiarity.

Second Opinion

The M2’s new platform makes it considerably longer and wider than its predecessor, and I certainly found it more challenging to place on the road. I reckon James will spend a lot of time worrying about those diamond-cut alloys on busy London streets, with their width restrictors and one-way systems…

Jonathan Bryce

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BMW M2 Coupe specification

Specs: Price New £62,420 Price as tested £66,885 Options M2 Comfort Pack £730, 19/20in M alloy wheels £330, Driving Assistant £1100, M Driver’s Pack £2305

Test Data: Engine Power 453bhp at 6250rpm Torque 406lb ft at 2650-5870rpm Kerb weight 1725kg Top speed 155mph (177 with M Driver's package) 0-62mph 4.1sec Fuel economy 28.8mpg CO2 218-222g/km/km Faults None Expenses None

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