First Drive: BMW M2

The exterior of the 2016 BMW M2.
The exterior of the 2016 BMW M2.

What’s new?

The 2 Series is already offered in pretty toasty M235i form, but now there’s a full-house M badge version, complete with all the kudos and expectation that comes with it. Seen as a spiritual successor to the limited-run 1 Series M Coupe, the M2 receives the customary level of M Division magic.

The exterior of the 2016 BMW M2.

The exterior of the 2016 BMW M2.

Outside there’s a tough-looking bodykit with pumped arches, air intakes that look like they could inhale small children and steamroller 19-inch wheels. Under the bonnet there’s a more powerful version of the 3.0-litre single-turbo straight six linked to a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT automatic, with uprated brakes, the electronic M differential and aluminium suspension components similar to those on the bigger M3.

Looks and image

Controlled aggression is the name of the game when it comes to BMW M cars and the compact shape of the 2 Series translates exceptionally well into full performance guise. Dark gloss elements to the grille and wheels means contrasting colours work well, while greys and blacks give a more subtle look.

While the bigger M cars might be seen as the ultimate expression of the sub-brand, the M2 still has the looks and the cache to give car enthusiasts sleepless nights. It’s also the least expensive way into an M car, which will put it on plenty of shopping lists.

The interior of the 2016 BMW M2.

The interior of the 2016 BMW M2.

Space and practicality

The M2 offers the same cabin space as the standard 2 Series, which is perfectly reasonable for a car of this class. Up front, the sports seats offer excellent support, although even in their lowest setting the driving position feels a fraction high. In the rear, legroom is good even for taller adults although headroom is relatively limited. The flip side is a huge boot, with 390 litres on offer.

Behind the wheel

There’s a definite sense of purpose when you’re behind the wheel of the M2, even with it in the Comfort setting. The ride is firm, but not harsh and keeps the body well under control, while the easy torque of the turbo six makes short work of normal driving. Go for the DCT auto gearbox and urban traffic is a breeze.

Get on the right kind of road however and the M2’s real personality starts to come through. That effortless torque translates into strong acceleration right around the rev range, and with Sport mode engaged, the throttle response is sharper and more of the engaging straight six engine note comes through too. 62mph can be despatched in 4.5 seconds, but there’s no massive turbo kick; instead, you know there’s always acceleration available, but never so much that it feels edgy.

But what really marks out the M2 as a fine driver’s car is the handling balance. Unlike the more hooligan M4, the ratio of grip to power is just about perfect. Several laps of the challenging Laguna Seca racetrack showed the M2 to be confidence-inspiring with excellent traction out of slow corners and good grip balance between front and rear. It will play the hooligan too and serve up lurid powerslides when required, but only then; the rest of the time the M2 is real-world fast, capable, controlled and ultimately on your side.

Value for money

Thomas Saveall won the Project Spotlight Volunteer award at the Citizens Advice Scotland conference. He was presented with a silver Quaich by HRH Princess Anne. Picture - Stewart Attwood''''All images � Stewart Attwood Photography 2019.  All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted.

Taylor Wimpey have confirmed directly with local Councillor Nathan Wilson that the organisation retains its commitment to building a park and ride at Shieldmuir Train Station. In response to recent enquiries made by Councillor Wilson, Taylor Wimpey have advised that engagement is taking place with Network Rail over the latter’s approval procedures and that once this process is complete, work will be able to begin on site. The developer has informed the Motherwell Councillor that during the period of investigation undertaken since the commencement of building work was delayed in January 2018, an unrecorded service chamber has been discovered on site. The project cannot move forward until further clarification is provided on the nature of the service chamber and Taylor Wimpey are in the process of commissioning a contractor to assess the situation. The developer’s initial judgement is that this is likely a redundant service. A senior representative of the organisation has also informed Councillor Wilson that a member of the Taylor Wimpey production team will be sent out to inspect the vacant land following a request he made at the beginning of 2019 for maintenance work to be carried out on site should construction of the park and ride remain some time away. Councillor Nathan Wilson said: “Taylor Wimpey have communicated to me directly that the park and ride facility is a project that the organisation remains committed to delivering. “However, it goes without saying that the lengthy delay is still very disappointing and frustrating. “An unrecorded service chamber has been identified on site and progress is unable to be made until this has been investigated. “Taylor Wimpey have relayed to me that an on-site inspection of the vacant land will take place and I hold to the view that maintenance work should be carried out in the short term to improve it’s current condition. “I will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders and re-inforce to them the importance of the park and ride project locally. Motherwell and Wishaw CAB takes home 40 per cent of the prizes

M2 prices start at £44,070 and for that you get the higher-specification navigation system, xenon headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels and the higher grade of audio system including Bluetooth, DAB and BMW online services. The biggest option decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose the impressive M-DCT dual clutch transmission, but either way the M2 is a genuine M car for less than £50k.

Who would buy one?

If your idea of a real sports car is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe - and frankly it should be - then the M2 is a near-perfect introduction. Whether you’re already a dab hand behind the wheel or just moving up into a true performance car the M2 is sufficiently exciting to be great fun but not so fast that novices should be worried. It also has kerb appeal to burn so even if you never reach the red line, it’s a car to savour that can be enjoyed at normal speeds.