Words by Dion Price
The finger nails of the global M car faithful have bitten down to the skin in recent months with leaked images of the forthcoming BMW M2 appearing in camouflage being spotted across the world. Like expectant fathers pacing the floor, M car fans have been anticipating the arrival of the latest M car more than any other in recent times. The recent incarnations of the M3, M4 and M5 have all been met with polite applause and nods of respect in recognition of their respective achievements but they have all failed to ignite the raging inferno that seems to reside in M cars fans the world over. Something was missing…
Could this be it? Could the M2 really be the spiritual successor to the E30 M3 and topple the 1M as the closest modern interpretation of the original M Division ethos…? The M Division’s marketing department certainly seem to think so as the M2 launch video sees the new car being slung around a race track with the 1M and E30 M3 in hot pursuit. The explicit linking of the M2 to the E30 M3 and 1M screams at the viewer throughout the launch video in an attempt to appeal to long standing fans of the M Division. Not quite enough homework has been done however as BMW also periodically place a laughable prop car in the video that seems to be modified by a teenager spending his pocket money at a local branch of Halfords. Pause the video at 1:33 and have a giggle at an E46 Coupe with bits stuck on (and photoshopped) it to make it look like an E46 M3 despite every panel on display being factually incorrect. Any genuine M fan would laugh this fakery off the street in real life so I am not quite sure why its in a multi-million pound flagship launch campaign.
Flawed marketing aside, the BMW M2 looks like a tantalising prospect. Much like anything that invokes an emotional desire, it looks fantastic on the move and it has all the right curves in all the right places. The usual smattering of M badges, gaping vents and steroidal bulges leave the casual viewer in no doubt, this is a full blooded M car.
Without driving the car we resort to stats and the press release for clues as to the excitement that lays ahead. Despite the repeated links to the E30 M3, 1M, and occasionally the 2002 Turbo, the M2 is actually much closer to the E92 M3 in terms of its performance. Power-to-weight ratio is identical at 244 bhp per ton and the seemingly all important Nürburgring lap time is within 6 seconds of each other. The weight of the M2 has been a public reaction focus point as it is approximately 40kg heavier than the current 235i, ie too heavy in some eyes. Interestingly, independent weigh bridge tests of the 235i reveal that BMW may have been somewhat economical with its weight figures of late. This is a concern as the M2 is positioned as being a nimble car, pushing its real world weight over 1600kg would certainly dent that position.
So where does this leave us?
The M2 looks like a tantalising prospect from a future Motorstars perspective. The marketeers would have us believe it has the right motorsport DNA passed down through the generations and with confirmation that the M2 will be produced as a set run of vehicles (not a small number like the 1M but not open ended production like the M3/4), some exclusivity will be ensured.
With a few key stat improvements (weight, power etc) I think the BMW dealer phone would have been ringing off its hook with customer preorders but at present the car will need to be test driven before absolute confidence in its abilities would be delivered.
What is more exciting from my perspective is that this is the strongest candidate yet for a modern BMW that could logically place a CSL crown upon its head. There is plenty of weight to be shed (lets remove the M2’s “Smokey Burnout” mode for a start), increases in power would come easily to this forced induction unit and its overall dimensions would make it an ideal track focused weapon or base platform for a proper motorsport campaign. Assuming the marketeers stay out of the way, the M2 CSL could be the defining moment of the decade for BMW just as the E46 M3 CSL was in the 00’s and the E30 M3 Evo Sport was in the 90’s. Here’s hoping.