Rather a good thing

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Rather a good thing

The BMW M2’s goodness as a largely unfiltered driver’s car has earned it a spot among the M brand’s greatest hits. Much of his joy behind the wheel has carried over to the redesigned 2 Series, particularly the M240i model, which is burlier than ever. But where is the next generation of the M2? We still don’t know much about this car, but BMW invited us to drive prototypes at the 2.6-mile Salzburgring circuit in Austria to find out more.

Firing the M2 prototype produced the same booming six-cylinder growl we heard in our long-running M3, and both cars’ controls share a similarly satisfying action. The manual – yes, a stick shift is confirmed, complete with automatic rev matching – snaps into its gates with a positive, if slightly rubbery, feel. The ZF automatic, meanwhile, zips through the gears with a speed that we can only fault for not being as responsive. The weather conditions meant we couldn’t push the M2s hard enough to measure feedback levels or say how much sharper they’re cornering than before, which the M engineers said was their goal. But the overall feel is that of a tidy, highly responsive sports coupe that, much like the previous car, wraps you in speed. While the larger M4 exhibits stability that borders on that of a full-size touring car, the M2 feels livelier and turns more under power. His playfulness remains.

Unfortunately, after a few laps of reconnaissance in camouflaged mules equipped with both eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions, Mother Nature cut our time. As soon as we exited pit lane, sprinklers started falling, making for a sketchy surface right off the bat. Continuous rain quickly gave way to a downpour, and the cars whirled up spray even at moderate speeds. As small rivers flowed over the track, the red flag flew and the track got cold.

However, this gave us time to chat with the M engineers who were taking shelter in the paddock. They’ve been coy about some of the car’s specifics ahead of its official debut later this year (it will go on sale next spring), but they’ve been candid about the next M2’s high-level core: it’s a junior M4. Beneath its thicker bodywork are essentially the guts of the latest M4 coupe and sedan, including their S58 twin-turbo straight-six, transmission and rear-wheel-drive hardware, and brakes. Even the M2’s staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires will match M4 specifications.

As with the new 2 Series, the M2’s wheelbase will be about two inches longer than the 106.0 inches of the last-generation model, and it will be about two inches wider than the 72.4 inches of the already broad-shouldered 2022 M240i. For reference, the current M4 is 112.5 inches between its axles and 74.3 inches wide. We’re told that technological creep and added structural rigidity will bring a small increase in curb weight compared to the last M2 CS, which weighed 3544 pounds on our scale. Engine output should be close to this car’s 444hp – robust but appropriately shy of the M4’s 473hp baseline. No word yet on a future M2 Competition model, but more powerful variants are sure to come with time. Expect 60 mph times in the mid three second range and over 1.0g of cornering grip. Thankfully, diluting the experience with an all-wheel-drive system doesn’t appear to be part of the plan.

The M2’s interior will likely emulate the straightness of the 2 Series it’s based on, and its slightly polished exterior should make it look like an M240i on a CrossFit regime. Pricing needs to stay away from the M4’s starting point of $72,995, probably just north of $60,000. Beyond that, we just have to wait. But our all-too-brief initial contact gave us much to look forward to from one of BMW M’s finest products.


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