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2017 BMW M2

JARED GALL

WHAT WE LIKE: The M2—the beating heart of BMW as a whole and the M division in particular—is a race car in want of a track, perfectly balanced whether the intent of a lap is minimum time or maximum yaw. The engine is powerful, smooth, and sonorous, the transmission snappy and smart. Yeah, we wanted a manual, but the M DCT is one of the better examples of the dual-clutch automatic breed. And with the accelerator floored, simply holding the downshift paddle drops the transmission all the way into the lowest possible gear for quick passing maneuvers.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: There’s a downside to the whole race-car schtick, and it’s stiffness. Stiffness in the suspension that translates into stiffness in the backs and necks of those prone to whining—including most of us. The M2 itself seems to be whining about the harsh ride, too, as rattles and squeaks are starting to proliferate throughout the cabin.

WHAT WENT WRONG: We got to be the front end of a three-car pileup that wrinkled the rear bumper cover and popped out a parking sensor. We haven’t gotten it repaired yet—we figured we’d give southeast Michigan drivers a couple of free months in case anybody else wants to take a shot at us this winter—but our dealer tells us it’ll be about $900 if the cover is the only thing that needs to be repaired. Fingers crossed that the bumper beam still looks unscathed when the cover comes off. An oil change at 23,988 miles was covered under BMW’s Ultimate Care maintenance program.

WHERE WE WENT: After spending all summer bopping around Michigan, the M2 finally went farther out on the road. It carried a pair of staffers down to BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for a photo shoot of its illustrious ancestor, the 2002, for our 750th issue. A month later, it returned to the Carolinas for a little R&R in Asheville. Now that it has settled in at the home office for winter, we’ve swapped on a set of Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 tires for the colder months to make sure that any additional incidents remain other people’s fault.

Months in Fleet: 11 months Current Mileage: 25,470 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 13.7 gal Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

PRICE AS TESTED: $57,545 (base price: $55,595)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979 cc
Power: 365 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 106.0 in
Length: 176.2 in
Width: 73.0 in Height: 55.5 in
Passenger volume: 89 cu ft
Trunk volume: 14 cu ft
Curb weight: 3509 lb

PERFORMANCE: NEW
Zero to 60 mph: 4.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.2 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 19.1 sec
Zero to 150 mph: 30.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.7 sec @ 110 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 163 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.00 g

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA combined/city/highway: 22/20/26 mpg
C/D observed: 23 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt



WARRANTY:
4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper;
4 years/50,000 miles powertrain;
12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;
4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance;
3 years/36,000 miles complimentary scheduled maintenance





If you’re the type who enjoys wringing your hands over those who have lost their way, then you’re probably fixated on BMW right now. Among a litany of warning signs, its embrace of electrically assisted steering plus the prioritization of ride comfort, SUVs, and now all-wheel-drive M cars suggests the brand is specifically targeting your proclivities.

But screeching sideways through the gloom-choked Truffula wasteland comes a belligerent little ray of hope called the M2. In a lineup increasingly overcome with crossovers and SUVs, the M2 takes one of the shortest, narrowest, and lightest body shells in BMW’s portfolio and stuffs it with a 365-hp inline-six along with the brakes, wheels, and suspension from the larger M4.

Good Call

The compact body, airy cabin, and quick-twitch reflexes give the M2 the feel of a four-wheel sportbike. After lapping Virginia International Raceway in one for last year’s Lightning Lap, we called the M2 the “dictionary definition” of rear-wheel-drive dynamics. Then we drove another example and called it “200-proof driving elixir.” Then we called it one of our 10Best Cars for 2017 and called BMW to order one for a 40,000-mile long-term test.

BMW promptly delivered a car with a DCT automatic instead of the six-speed manual transmission we’d requested. We protested—and then relented because the manual car was delayed at the port and, well, temperance isn’t the only virtue we lack. That’s why zero-to-60-mph times matter so much. Get there faster!

Aside from the $2900 dual-clutch automatic, our M2 carries a light load of options—only the $550 Long Beach Blue Metallic paint and the $1400 Executive package inflate the price from its $52,695 base to just $57,545. The most important elements of the Executive package are a heated steering wheel, automatic high-beam headlights, and a rearview camera paired with rear proximity sensors. This short list of add-ons is uncharacteristically frugal both for us and for a BMW.

Differential Calculus

Our patience was strained to near the breaking point when the standard 1200-mile break-in period doubled in length because our car’s differential was deemed defective. It’s a known issue on early M2s, and ours had a fluid leak plus a half-shaft that had started to work its way out of engagement with the differential. The replacement unit is holding strong, though, and so we put another round of break-in miles on the M2 and headed to the track.

There, the M2 skittered around the skidpad at an even 1.00 g and ground to a halt from 70 mph in 152 feet. The turbocharged inline-six, one of the last hurrahs for the outgoing N55-generation engine, whipped the M2 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The quarter-mile passed in 12.7 at 110 mph.

So far, praise in the M2’s logbook focuses on the nimble chassis and the ripping exhaust note. Detractors have pointed out the squeaks and rattles already manifesting and complained that the ride is too stiff, with one staffer calling it a “toxic compromise” while another compares it to a ride for children at a regional grocery chain’s stores. (The pony’s name is Sandy, and a ride still costs just a penny at Meijer.) But those in the former camp think that those in the latter need to stop wringing their hands.

Months in Fleet: 3 months Current Mileage: 7109 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 13.7 gal Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

PRICE AS TESTED: $57,545 (base price: $55,595)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979 cc
Power: 365 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 106.0 in
Length: 176.2 in
Width: 73.0 in Height: 55.5 in
Passenger volume: 89 cu ft
Trunk volume: 14 cu ft
Curb weight: 3509 lb

PERFORMANCE: NEW
Zero to 60 mph: 4.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.2 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 19.1 sec
Zero to 150 mph: 30.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.7 sec @ 110 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 163 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.00 g

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA combined/city/highway: 22/20/26 mpg
C/D observed: 23 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt



WARRANTY:
4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper;
4 years/50,000 miles powertrain;
12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;
4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance;
3 years/36,000 miles complimentary scheduled maintenance





WHAT WE LIKE: It’s hard not to think about sport bikes when driving the BMW M2. Its fast-twitch agility makes it feel as if it’s perched on a four-wheeled branch of that family tree. While that branch had better be robust, given our M2’s 3509-pound curb weight, the car’s reflexes belie that number, and the turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six’s power and delivery feed our race-car-driver fantasies—as well as providing acceleration that aligns unexpectedly closely with the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 sharing space in our long-term garage. The M2 bettered the Mustang to 60 mph by a tenth and beat it by a single foot stopping from 70 mph but gave up 0.02 g on the skidpad. And while the M2’s $57,545 as-tested sticker is steep for a 2-series—the 230i starts at $34,145, and you can get into an M240i for $45,445—it undercuts our Shelby’s asking price by nearly three grand. The choice is a matter of taste, prevailing social norms in your area, and stripe preference.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: The downside to the M2’s agility is a punishingly stiff ride. It’s so rigid that it alerted this writer to a loose power cord on his radar detector. In no other car I’ve driven have I had a problem, but in the M2, every bump jiggles the cord so much that it causes a reboot. I guess it’s time for a new power cord, because the last thing anybody wants to do in the M2 is drive it more slowly. Though some would rather not drive it at all. Several staffers have complained about back pain and suggested that they’d trade the M2 for the more supple M240i.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Nothing, beyond the differential we had to replace right off the bat. Speaking of differentials and such, would you believe that you can fit the transfer case to a 1979 Ford F-150 in the passenger footwell of an M2? Surprisingly, nothing about that experience went wrong. I didn’t even hurt my back when I wedged it in there or wrestled it out.

WHERE WE WENT: Michigan, Michigan, Michigan—oh, and Michigan. That would explain the slow accumulation of miles. There was one jaunt to observe far less thrilling applications of horsepower at some bourbon-and-hat festival in Kentucky—by a staffer who complained about his back hurting after the drive—and a trip all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio, but otherwise, the M2 is stuck in a commuter-duty rut. It’s mostly due to the suspension, but the cramped back seat limits the thing’s usefulness for family road trips. It is possible to fit a family of four in the car, but only if the parents are no more than average height and the kids haven’t yet achieved the “teen” label. The nice thing about kids that young is that they rarely complain about their backs hurting.

Months in Fleet: 7 months Current Mileage: 14,307 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 13.7 gal Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

PRICE AS TESTED: $57,545 (base price: $55,595)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979 cc
Power: 365 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 106.0 in
Length: 176.2 in
Width: 73.0 in Height: 55.5 in
Passenger volume: 89 cu ft
Trunk volume: 14 cu ft
Curb weight: 3509 lb

PERFORMANCE: NEW
Zero to 60 mph: 4.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.2 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 19.1 sec
Zero to 150 mph: 30.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.7 sec @ 110 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 163 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.00 g

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA combined/city/highway: 22/20/26 mpg
C/D observed: 23 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt



WARRANTY:
4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper;
4 years/50,000 miles powertrain;
12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;
4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance;
3 years/36,000 miles complimentary scheduled maintenance