The BMW M2 was the bare-bones, no gimmicks little brother of the M3 and M4. But when the current generation M2 was introduced, it got bigger and it gained weight. With the added heft, is this new 2023 BMW M2 just as much fun to drive as the previous generation?
Engine – The new BMW M2 has the same engine as the one that is found in the M3 and M4. It is the S58 3.0L twin-turbocharged inline-6. In this M2, it produces 453 hp & 406 lb-ft of torque (338 kW & 550 Nm), 20 hp less than the standard versions of the M3/M4 but the same torque. Despite the loss of 20 hp, this engine can still accelerate the M2 from a stop to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds when equipped with the automatic transmission. 4.3 seconds for the 6-speed manual.
This engine picks up right away from nearly any rpm. Though, it really likes to hang around the higher rpms as that’s where the peak power is produced. But even at lower revs, the engine will give you the satisfying “pushed to the back of the seat” feeling. My small complaint is that this engine is not all that loud. At least, not from the inside of the car. It sounds muffled. But that’s an easy fix with the aftermarket industry.
Fuel Economy – With the equipped 6-speed manual transmission, the 2023 BMW M2 is rated for 14.3 L/100km (16.4 MPG) in a city and 10 L/100km (23.5 MPG) on a highway. I managed to average 13.6 L/100km (17.2 MPG) during my time with the car. Interestingly, the 8-speed automatic has slightly worse fuel economy than the manual. It is rated for 14.6 & 10.3 L/100km (16.1 MPG & 22.8 MPG) respectively.
Transmission – The 6-speed manual that the inline-6 engine is paired with is an Ok transmission but not the best I’ve experienced this year. At times, the clutch can be a bit tricky to operate for smooth take offs from a stop under normal driving conditions. The clutch pedal is too light and it doesn’t provide the crisp feeling of the exact bite point of the clutch resulting in a jerky motion. Once the car is moving, clutch engagement is much smoother throughout the other gears. Additionally, the shifter is rubbery when you’re changing gears. It feels more like a shifter from a standard Nissan Sentra rather than the one found in the Toyota Supra. On the plus side, the rev-match function works brilliantly. It perfectly blips the engine for easier downshifts.
As for the 8-speed automatic, if it’s anything like the one in the BMW M4, then it should be a fast and smooth shifting transmission. The dual-clutch of the old M2 is gone but I think the new 8-speed is a better blend for track driving and city commuting.
Braking – The brakes on the 2023 BMW M2 are ferocious. There are 15” rotors in the front and 14.6” rotors in the back. The brake pedal is firm with a strong initial bite, especially in Sport mode. In Comfort mode, the brakes don’t grab as aggressively which can provide a smoother stop in city traffic.
Handling – The 2023 BMW M2 is, as near as makes no difference, the same weight as the bigger BMW M4. But despite the weight of this new car, the M2 is extremely quick around corners. For a start, the track is wider than the standard 2-series. It receives adaptive dampers with Comfort, Sport & Sport Plus settings. The staggered 19” front & 20” rear wheels are wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. And like many other M vehicles, the M2 has a very quick steering rack. All of these different features give the M2 unprecedented grip around corners. Over bumpy roads, the rear tires consistently remain in contact with the road and never lose grip. Of course, you can force the car to lose grip but generally speaking, it has traction. Furthermore, the super fast steering rack helps the M2 hide its weight through turns. It makes the car feel agile and the front end is planted. Wherever you point the steering wheel, the front goes in that direction.
This new generation of the M2 is only available in rear-wheel-drive guise which means that you can have some fun on a closed circuit. This car receives the brilliant traction control system of the M3/M4. You can set it so that it does not allow for any sort of wheel slip in any condition. Or you can turn it off. The impressive part is what happens when you adjust its 10 different settings between on & off. With traction control somewhere in the middle, it will flatter you and allow the car to drift even if you don’t have the drifting skills of Keiichi Tsuchiya. This car also receives the same drift analyzer of the M3 & M4 to score your drifts.
Ride Comfort – One of the first things that you’ll notice once you start driving the M2 is just how stiff the suspension is. It doesn’t matter if the adaptive dampers are in Comfort or Sport, the ride is nearly unbearable on city streets. Every pothole, manhole cover, or crack in the pavement feels worse inside this M2 than in any other car from recent memory. During my commutes to work, it felt like my teeth were about to shatter. I had to take evasive action for almost every bump that I could see.
Speaking of which, the lightning fast steering helps the car with cornering on a twisty road but it also makes the car twitchy on city streets. On anything but the smoothest of pavements, I had to consistently input little corrections to the steering to keep the car going in a straight line.
Finally, the optional carbon bucket seats did not help in ironing out some of the bumps in the roads. Though they do a fabulous job of keeping you in them when the car is pulling serious G’s, they don’t have as much padding as the standard Sport seats. Additionally, it can be a challenge to get in and out of these seats due to the thick and pronounced thigh bolsters.
Interior Space – Although the 2023 BMW M2 is longer and wider than the outgoing model, the interior is actually smaller. It has less headroom and less legroom than the 2021 BMW M2. The only area where it does offer more space is front legroom but only by 0.3 inches. At least in the front seats there is plenty of space for tall adults like myself. Even with the lower roofline, I still have plenty of headroom. The back seats, however, are not so commodious. There’s hardly any legroom and, as mentioned before, less headroom than before. There are also only two of them, not three with a little tray in between the seats. The trunk capacity remains the same at 390 L (13.8 cu-ft) and the back seats can be folded 40/20/40. But you may have to move the front seats forward in order for the backrests to fold down.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – From the outside, the BMW M2 sounds like a proper sports car. Open up the valved exhaust and switch it into Sport Plus mode, and the inline-6 delivers some fruity noises. Unfortunately from the inside, it sounds muffled. What’s worse is that on highways, the tires produce A LOT of noise. They drown out any other noise and you need to turn up the radio A LOT in order to hear it. It seems like people outside this car get to enjoy its sounds more than the driver does.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Like many things in life, the 2023 BMW M2 has become more expensive than before. It starts at $76,500 CAD ($63,200 USD) and with all of the options that this demo car came equipped with, the price easily balloons up to $96,500 CAD ($76,100 USD) as equipped. These are 2024 prices.
Gadgets – For the money, it at least comes equipped as you’d expect a BMW to be equipped. The carbon bucket seats are heated, as is the steering wheel, there’s a head-up display, a wireless phone charging pad in the center console, built-in satellite navigation along with wireless Android Auto & CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera with parking sensors and BMW’s parking assistant. You can also option the car with a sunroof instead of the carbon fiber roof. Additionally, you can also add adaptive cruise control but only when the car is optioned with the automatic transmission.
Interior Design – The 2023 BMW M2’s interior follows the same design language as all new or updated BMW models. That means that the climate control buttons and heated seat controls are in the infotainment system rather than having dedicated physical controls.The infotainment & driver display screens are customizable with crisp & clear graphics. There are also two red M buttons on the steering wheel that allow you to customize different settings of the car to your liking. Couple with the carbon seats & carbon trim, the interior of the BMW M2 is familiar to BMW owners but it also has the quintessential sports car feel.
Exterior Design – When the latest generation 2-series was introduced, I thought it had an interesting design. I didn’t love it but I also didn’t hate it. With this BMW M2, it’s received mixed reactions with most of them being negative. In my eyes, however, I think that this car looks good from the back & rear ¾ angle. I love the big wheel arches & 20” wheels that fit in them along with the quad exhaust pipes & taillights. But from the front, it looks like the designers tried to incorporate square and rectangular shapes on a curvaceous body. It is instantly recognizable as a BMW due to the trademark kidney grills. But it just doesn’t look as good as the back or as good as the previous generation. Again, looks are subjective so there will be some out there that do like the look of this car.
Safety – Like many modern BMW vehicles, the 2023 M2 comes equipped with a lot of advanced driver & safety aids as standard. In fact, on the Canadian specification of the M2, the only driver aid that can be added is the Parking Assistant which is part of the Premium package. Every other feature such as forward collision alert, blind spot sensors, lane departure warning, and so on are standard features.
Warranty – Like all other BMW vehicles, the 2023 BMW M2 is covered by a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty in Canada. In the United States, it’s 4 years or 50,000 miles. For more information on Canadian BMW warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – The 2023 BMW M2 may have gained weight but this is still a seriously fast car. The only place to fully explore its potential is on a race track and that’s where it feels most at home. On city streets, it’s too rough, the tires are too loud, the steering is twitchy, and the clutch is tricky. For an additional $15,000, I’d rather get the BMW M4. That car is more spacious, just as much fun to drive, more comfortable on city streets, and you can have it with xDrive for those really heavy snow storms. The M2 feels like a one trick pony and I didn’t fall in love with it as I did the M4.
Thank you to BMW Canada for providing the vehicle. www.BMW.ca