As BMW celebrates its 100 Year Anniversary, many fans are rejoicing in the manufacturer’s latest achievements, one of which being the entirely new M2. To watch the existing, long running M car lineages (M3, M5, M6) evolve is exciting in itself, but to be faced with a completely new M is thrilling. So far, enthusiasts across the map are receiving this new addition to the M family considerably well. So well, in fact, that most reviews we have seen boast very little to criticize.
Since we are intrigued by almost everything that BMW is doing these days, we naturally couldn’t wait to see the M2 for ourselves. We had that chance when we found out that Malcolm, one of our current E46 M3 customers, was getting one. The journey that led Malcolm to his new M car is likely not what you would imagine, but to us, that’s what makes it exciting.
“I was skeptical for a bit,” he said, referring to the M2 upon its conceptual release. “That soon changed when I had a first look at the official pictures.” He spoke to many who shared his skepticism early on, and even carried it further, having to make their final call upon seeing the car in person. Curious to learn why he was so keen on the M2, we asked what made him ultimately make the decision to purchase one. He placed the founding inspiration of his choice on the M235i. “The car was such a success that I was close to getting one,” he explained. “But to me, and I am sure to others, it was not a true M car.” This is a resounding agreement across the board from what we have seen. Obviously the M235i was not intended to actually be its own M car, but many were insulted by its narrow body and lack of enthusiast spirit. This is what struck Malcolm so heavily when he learned of the plans for the M2.
In what some would call a whirlwind of a story, Malcolm bought his M2 not in his home state of California, but in Illinois. “Acquiring the car this year was nearly impossible, even if you had an early allocation” he said. One of the most discouraging factors of the M2 was the extreme California price markup. This is ultimately what pulled Malcolm across state lines. He went on to describe how his brother in Chicago was the one who set up the opportunity to purchase an M2, right as the dealer was unloading one off a truck. Long Beach Blue and DCT were among two features he was looking for, and this car had both and beyond. Malcolm closed the deal the same day he learned of the car, and a week later was on a flight to retrieve it.
Upon returning from his road trip in the M2, he wasted no time bringing it to us. Seeing the car in person is what can only be described as a completely separate experience from seeing it in photos. Online, the car maintains a variable persona. Some photos subtract from its doggish framework, making it seem a bit less aggressive in comparison to its other M counterparts. However, seeing the car in person is a treat, to say in the least. All of its body lines come to vibrant life and the widened chassis is precise and menacing, even for its rather small size.
In partnership with MMI Vehicle Systems, we outfitted the M2 with an array of BMW M Performance parts. Much of the car was changed aesthetically, as we swapped out the stock chrome pieces for gloss black front and side grills. We also installed an assortment of carbon fiber M Performance parts: mirror caps, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, and front and rear carbon fiber winglets. On the performance front, Malcolm opted for the M Performance Exhaust and the M Performance Two-Way Adjustable Coilover Suspension. For this photoshoot, we test fitted our shop F80's HRE Classics. The fitment, especially in the rear, was very aggressive, and made for great photos.
The M Performance exhaust and coilover suspension systems for the M2 are what Malcolm describes as “must haves.” A fun fact about the exhaust system is that it includes a bluetooth operated valve controller. The small, handheld unit gives the driver a more intense feeling of control and connection with the car, as its setup allows for quick alternation between “Sport” and “Track” modes. Additionally, while the M2 performed well on its stock suspension, the M Performance coilovers enable a customized ride height adjustment option, as well as provide a tightening up of “loose ends” in relation to handling.
Since he owns an M3 as well, it was interesting to hear Malcolm’s thoughts on the old versus new M cars. Many enthusiasts have compared the M2 with the E46 M3 on almost every level, from power to weight, drivability, and size. “On paper, the M2’s power isn't much more than the E46,” Malcolm remarked. “But driving the M2 is a whole different experience.” It’s fair to say that the direct comparison between the two cars doesn’t necessarily make the most sense. Changes in technology alone can stand as proof that the days of raw, production performance cars are over. The BMW fans of today are praising the company for “bringing back the true driver’s car,” as Malcolm put it. “BMW has built a track platform for those who can’t afford an M3 or M4, but also for the driving enthusiast in general.” Media sources appear to agree with this stance, as a March Car and Driver review of the M2 summarizes it in a simple verdict: “Skip the M4 and go straight to the M2, collect $14,000.”
For anyone who is interested, this car will be present at Bimmerfest in LA this weekend. Stop by to take a look if you haven't already seen the M2 in person.