BMW finally revealed the high-performance follow-up to one of AUTOMOBILE‘s favorite sports cars. The 2016 BMW M2 builds upon the All-Star-winning 2 Series and turns it into a true M car, with more power, an improved suspension, upgraded brakes, and wild new bodywork.
While the current hottest version of the 2 Series — the M235i coupe that we ordered up for Four Seasons test — is an M Sport model that adds a moderate amount of performance, the M2 is an all-out effort from M GmbH, slotting beneath the M3/M4 in the company’s range.
The 2016 BMW M2 begins with a modified version of the M235i’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine, which revs to 7,000 rpm and spits out 365 hp at 6,500 rpm — up 45 hp from the M235i’s power peak. BMW says it took special components and know-how, including new pistons, rings, bearings, and high-temperature spark plugs, from the 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine in the M3 and M4. Normal torque output is a stout 343 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm (up 14 lb-ft over the M235i), but for brief periods an overboost function provides 369 lb-ft.
With its standard six-speed manual, the 2016 BMW M2 will thus rocket to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds — 0.6 seconds quicker than a manual M235i. Opt for the car’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and engage launch control, however, and the M2 will scorch its way to the benchmark in just 4.2 seconds. The stick-shift M2 weighs 3,505 lb, while the dual-clutch version scales at a more modest 3,450 lb.
Serious chassis upgrades
To keep pace with all that accelerative force, the 2016 BMW M2 receives extensive chassis modifications. The manual transmission has a dry-sump design to keep oil lubricating the cogs under hard driving, the engine receives an extra radiator compared to the M235i, and the dual-clutch transmission employs its own oil cooler.
Beneath the car, M engineers used aluminum for the car’s control arms, wheel hubs, front suspension subframe, and struts, shaving more than 11 lb compared to using steel. The M2 also gets hollow anti-roll bars, and aluminum rear suspension links that shave 5 lb alone. An extra chassis brace is fitted underneath the car, special “play-free” ball joints help reduce flex or vagueness in the suspension, and the rear suspension is fixed directly to the car without rubber bushings.
A widened track accommodates 19-inch lightweight wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, while increased stopping power comes from blue M brake calipers, with 15.0-inch front rotors and 14.5-inch rear rotors. The two-piece rotors have an aluminum hub to further shed weight.
Faster through technology
The 2016 BMW M2 also uses clever electronics to help drivers lap as quickly as possible. An electronically controlled Active M Differential can selectively lock each wheel from 0 to 100 percent in just 150 milliseconds. It can also pre-load some lock when starting from a stop to proactively prevent wheelspin. The dual-clutch transmission has six different shift programs, while the manual gearbox has an automatic rev-match feature that is only disabled when the driver turns off the car’s stability control.
The M2’s stability control also adds an M Dynamic Mode switch that allows for more playfulness before the electronic nannies intervene. Using MDM allows for more wheel slip for “moderate, controlled drifts,” BMW says. In other words, it’s the go-sideways button. There’s also a multi-mode exhaust with electronically controlled flaps to allow the driver to pick different exhaust tones and volumes for each of the car’s driving modes.
As befits a true M machine, the 2016 BMW M2 has striking new bodywork that gives it a powerful, aggressive stance. The fenders have been widened by 2.1 inches in front and 3.1 inches in back to fit the wheels and track. The car’s new front fascia has enlarged air intakes to feed the engine, with side blades and a front splitter that BMW claims were inspired by the look of its historic 3.0 CSL racing car. Along with a new rear diffuser and spoiler, the new bodywork gives the M2 35 percent less lift and five percent less aerodynamic drag than a standard 2 Series coupe. As on all M cars, four round exhaust tips poke out of the car’s tail.
Step inside, and the M2 greets drivers with a 200-mph speedometer and 8,000-rpm tach. Black leather seats feature blue stitching and have adjustable side bolsters, an M sports steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and Alcantara adorns the door panels. Standard features include a fuel-saving engine stop-start function and navigation, while options include parking sensors, a backup camera, lane-departure and forward collision warnings.
Pricing for the 2016 BMW M2 will be announced closer to its launch in the U.S. With a standard 2016 M235i coupe starting at $45,145 with destination, expect a hefty sticker for the M2 — possibly in the high-$50,000 range (an M3 stickers for $64,195 and an M4 is $66,395.) Based on what we know about the car so far, it will likely be worth the money.