BMW’s 1M received plenty of praise when it was launched locally in 2011, with many referring to it as the spiritual successor to the 2002 turbo, which was the company’s first turbocharged vehicle.
The 1M, in essence, was good for 250kW and 450Nm (500Nm in overboost) from its 3.0l displacement with twin turbo chargers. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, which gave the model a sprint time from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds on its way to a governed top speed of 250km/h. Production of the 1M was capped to just over 6,000 units globally, with SA receiving about 100 units of that batch. Thus the model remains well sought after among enthusiasts and still commands a premium price tag.
Now the company has released details of the successor to the 1M, dubbed the M2, which will be the flagship model of the 2 Series coupe range. A single glance is all it takes to pick out the new M2 as a member of the BMW M family, with its styling also keen to advertise its dynamic attributes. Inspired by models from the history of BMW in motor racing, the M2 makes no secret of its extraordinary performance potential. The low front apron with large air intakes, muscular flanks with characteristic M gills, 19-inch aluminium wheels in familiar M double-spoke design and a low, wide rear with M-specific twin-tailpipe exhaust system all play impressive roles here.
The interior features some bespoke elements such as the Alcantara material on the door inserts and centre console, and carbon fibre trimmings which are said to create an ambience of heady sporting ambition, further underlined by blue contrast stitching and M embossing on selected details. The sports seats, an M sports steering wheel and an M gearshift lever are other model specific items.
Under the bonnet lies a newly developed 3.0l, six-cylinder in-line engine with TwinPower turbo technology to develop 272kW at 6,500r/min and 465Nm between 1,400 and 5,400r/min. The figures ensure it lays down a marker in the high-performance compact sports car segment.
The same applies to power delivery. The torque can be increased to 500Nm in overboost, all of which enables the new M2 when fitted with the optional seven-speed M-DCT gearbox and launch control to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.3 seconds. For the purist, the model will be offered standard with a six-speed manual transmission, replete with automatic blipping of the throttle when downshifting.
With the lightweight aluminium front and rear axles from the M3/M4 models, forged 19-inch aluminium wheels with mixed-size tyres (245/35 up front and 265/35 at the rear), M Servotronic steering with two settings and suitably effective M compound brakes, the model has the hallmarks of an M car.
The electronically controlled active M differential, which optimises traction and directional stability, plays a significant role here. And even greater driving pleasure is expected when the dynamic stability control system’s M Dynamic Mode (MDM) is activated. MDM allows wheel slip and moderate, controlled drifts on the track.
The high-performance brakes can be quickly identified by their brake callipers (front axle: four-piston fixed callipers, rear axle: two-piston fixed callipers), which are painted in a blue metallic finish and display the M logo at the front axle. These measure 380mm and 370mm front and rear respectively, while the brake disc hub is manufactured from aluminium.
Meanwhile, the optional ConnectedDrive services open up the world of vehicle connectivity to customers, revealing an extensive range of apps. The built in GoPro app is a case in point, likewise the M Laptimer app from BMW M division, which drivers can use to improve their driving style on the track precisely as required. This application records the car’s speed, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, engine speed, the gear engaged at any one time, the steering angle, the accelerator position and fuel consumption. All this allows drivers to subsequently analyse their responses precisely corner by corner, and compare their laps with those of other drivers
As an array of compact performance cars come to market such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 — all vying to entice all-wheel drive enthusiasts — there are those who thrive on rear-wheel drive dynamics and the M2 looks set to appease that market. According to BMW SA, the model will be made available locally in April 2016 when pricing and allocation (should the model be a limited run) will also be announced, but it is safe to say that pricing will undercut both its M3/M4 brethren when it arrives.