When we first got behind the wheel of the M235i early last year,BMW was quick to point out the spiritual link between the small quasi-M car and its ancestors, the 2002 Turbo and the E30 M3, but we couldn’t help but think fondly of the more potent 1M Coupe. And while the M235i got a lot of things right, its weight and price took some of the shine off it. But more importantly, the intangibles that those older BMWs nailed was somewhat lacking in the M235i – while fun, it was somewhat distant, unlike the visceral 1M.
Until we drive the 2016 BMW M2, those intangibles will remain intangible. But on paper, the M2 looks to be a super-M235i, buffed up with M goodies like an active rear differential and lightened suspension components. But if you’re looking for a featherweight M235i, you’ll be disappointed. The extra power and goodies are offset by negligible weight savings. With the dual-clutch transmission it weighs 3,450 pounds, an 85-pound reduction. With the manual, it’s a wash at 3,505 pounds.
At least the M2 looks like a proper M car. The side bodywork swells 2.1 inches up front and 3.1 inches in the rear to accommodate wide 19-inch forged wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The front end takes the M235i theme (itself an adrenaline-injected version of lesser 2 Series cars) and adds steroidal menace, with the expected larger intakes to feed the extra engine radiator. Out back, there’s a diffuser in the rear tray that the M235i lacks, and the scallops that incorporate the taillights plainly telegraph the extra rear width. It’s the M4‘s handsome younger sibling.
Like the M235i to which its clearly related, the heart of the M2 is a 3.0-liter inline-six that inhales through a TwinScroll exhaust manifold-integrated turbocharger. High-precision direct injection, Double-VANOS, and Valvetronic are all present and accounted for, with some M goodies like pistons and crank bearings trickling down from the M3 and M4. The result is 365 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque available from as low as 1,400 rpm. For those keeping score, that’s 45 hp and 13 lb-ft of torque over the M235i and 60 hp shy of the no-heavier M4 coupe.The M2 shouldn’t be slow, either. BMW claims a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds with the optional dual-clutch automatic, and 4.4 seconds with the standard six-speed manual. That automatic option is a bit of a surprise, as the industry scuttlebutt pegged the hypothetical M2 as a manual-only proposition. The top speed is, however, not a surprise. The M2, like the M235i, is limited to 155 miles per hour.
There’s one place where the M235i won’t hold a candle to the M2, and that’s its rear differential. The M235i offered an optional LSD, but the M2 goes full-M with an active diff, an electronically controlled multiplate unit that can keep wheel spin in check. It works a treat in all the applications we’ve tested before, and it should give the M2 an edge in enthusiastic track driving over its M235i sibling.
Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but considering the heavy similarity between the 2016 M2 and the M235i, and the premium the full-M version will undoubtedly command, let’s hope the M2 over-delivers on those aspects of the driving experience that left us feeling cold in the M235i. The M2 will go on sale in spring of 2016.