BMW M2 Competition: No Competition

    Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 2 months ago

    BMW M2 Competition: No Competition

    In days past, BMW was branded as The Ultimate Driving Machine. The company no longer uses the slogan in their advertising but it’s remained strongly connected with the brand, even to this day. Some purists will argue vehicles like the X2 (reviewed here) only serve to take away from the sporting heritage and driving experience BMW built its reputation on. But the reality is, markets, consumer demands, priorities and needs change with time and if a business is to succeed, it has to reflect the needs of what its buyers want.

    It’s not like the X2 is a terrible car. In fact, we quite liked it. But you can almost see where the naysayers are coming from. An entry level luxury crossover – at a glance at least – doesn’t seem like it can trace much heritage to the race track. It might be easy to think BMW has gone soft. But then the mad scientists at BMW M go and release something like this – the BMW M2 Competition -- and any doubt in your mind will immediately be eradicated.


    The most pertinent question in our minds initially is – what’s the difference between the outgoing ‘standard’ M2 and an M2 competition? What exactly did BMW do to justify the over $6,000 price difference? Well, the most important change is a big one. The M2 Competition loses the M2’s old engine, increasing power from 365 horsepower all the way up to 405. Torque also gets a significant boost, from 343 lb-ft to 406 lb-ft.

    You’ll also get a resculpted front spoiler with larger grills, bigger brakes, the M-sport mirrors from the M3, carbon fibre trim, the steering wheel from the M3, M-sport seats with illuminated M2 badging, improved engine cooling, a new exhaust with electronic valves, and most importantly, M2 Competition badging. The changes are clearly far more than just the name. And there are even still, much more changes to list. We think it’s worth the upcharge just for the engine alone. Everything else is a much welcomed bonus.

    But moving from the $60-thousand bracket to the $70’s puts it ever closer to the $77,550 M3 and $78,350 M4 models. At that point, you need to decide if having usable rear seats is worth the over $6,000 difference it takes to bridge the financial gap between the M2 Competition and the M3. But also bear in mind, the M2 Competition is smaller and lighter than the M3. It’s kind of like a 400hp go kart compared to the much larger M3 and M4 – which is an accurate way of describing it. The M2 Competition is a visceral experience. Even with all the electronic aids on, you still feel very involved in driving – if you want to. The car can be driven calmly in everyday commuting and traffic without a hitch. But the real magic happens when you give it some gas. It’s even better if you open the exhaust valves and hear the engine in all its glory – even if some of it simulated with BMW’s ‘Active Sound Design,’ which pipes engine notes through the speakers into the cabin.

    The non-adaptive suspension is firm, but forgiving. It’s a little harsh on rough city streets, but take it on a winding road, an aggressive corner, or ideally, a track, and you’ll really be glad it’s set up the way it is. With the kind of power this little car delivers, the suspension is set up so incredibly well. It’s a little slice of intoxicating driving perfection that keeps you wanting more. If you need some more comfort with your power, consider putting in the extra money and moving up to the M3 or M4, which is available with M Adaptive suspension. But our belief is as firm as the suspension on the M2 that this car does not need it. This car is all about tickling those selfish desires behind the wheel with little thought to practicality. But that’s not to say you couldn’t daily drive it. Just don’t expect a family hauler with a volcano under the hood.

    And speaking of the engine – BMW did right by the M2 competition. We’ve drawn a lot of comparisons to the M3/M4, and this is yet another. BMW plucked the powerplant from the big brothers and transplanted it into the Competition – albeit slightly detuned. It’s a little less power than the M3/M4, but given the compact nature of the M2 Competition, we seriously doubt you’d even notice. You’ll even get a carbon fibre engine strut brace, also plucked from the M4, as beautiful as it is functional. The competition had to be made a bit wider in order for the heart transplant to be successful, and that’s okay. When has anyone ever complained a performance car had too many flares? You won’t even notice it though. It’s still a very compact vehicle compared to the sea of crossovers it’ll share the road with.

    Much to driving enthusiasts’ delight, the M2 competition comes standard with a 6-speed manual. Our tester was fitted with the optional $3,900 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. We love a good manual here, but have to admit, the dual-clutch is smooth, slick and actually satisfying to use. Given the low take rate for manual transmissions in North America, we’d expect the majority of Competitions will be purchased with the DCT option checked. As great as a 6-speed would be, the M2 Competition is still every bit as fun with paddles. It does kick a bit harder than we’d like at lower speeds if you’re in manual shifting mode, but you don’t buy a car like this for comfort.

    In the snowy conditions we drove the M2 in, traction control became a very familiar light on the dashboard. BMW’s engineers did a good job making the car usable in slick conditions. If you’re looking to have more fun without spinning out, you can tap the traction control button once to put the car in M-Dynamic (MDM) traction mode. With this, you’ll get a less intrusive traction control system that’ll still keep you on the road facing the right way in the end. We were not brave (or foolish) enough to completely disable it with ice and snow on the ground. But if you feel like something’s going wrong, you can rest assured the car will stop on a dime. The massive brakes, 400mm in the front and 380mm in the back, nearly fill up the entire 19-inch wheels. The calipers are as impressive, with a six-piston setup in the front and four-piston in the rear. We like the subtler silver finish on the calipers too. It’s probably the only thing subtle about this car – and we wouldn’t change a thing.

    It’s easy to think with the rise of crossovers, even brands like BMW that were once lauded for the sporting nature of even their base models have sold out and cater to the masses. Granted, there are much more mass market vehicles in the company’s lineup than ever before, but to suggest BMW has forgotten its roots is ludicrous. It’s a far cry from a cheap thrill, but cars like the M2 Competition prove BMW still has what it takes to be the Ultimate Driving Machine.

    Tags:
    BMW, BMW M2, M2, M2 Competition, BMW M

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