After three minutes of driving the BMW M2, I developed a flutter in the pit of my stomach. The same flutter I get when I meet a girl I really like. The flutter that tells that here is someone special who’s worth spending a lot of time with.
The M2 calls to mind the original E30 M3 and E39 M5: everything about it is just right. That impression builds the moment you see it. It’s the right size (4.4m long) and the stretched wheelarches and deep, intake/exhaust-filled bumpers add the right amount of visual muscle. It look fantastic in Long Beach Blue, too.
Open and the door and you find it’s a genuine – if cosy – four-seater and the driving position is just about perfect. Shame the decor’s a bit drab, but everything falls to hand easily and it’s beautifully made. And – joy of joys – this one has a manual gearbox.
Get going and it soon becomes clear the engine is a masterpiece. It’s the same single-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six found in the M235i, but fitted with M3 pistons and bearings, better cooling and oil systems and a boostier turbo, working to produce 370bhp and 343lb/ft of torque (369lb/ft on overboost).
It’s a barrel-chested motor. Plant your foot and it breathes deep and belts towards the red line, trailing a hardened snarl of exhaust noise. Equally, there’s a thick, gooey spread of torque across the rev range. In fact, you really only need third gear, but the six-speed manual ‘box is so deliciously slick and precise I found myself changing gear purely for the joy of it.
The M2 is an extremely fast car, but not so fast that it’s intimidating. More importantly, you don’t have to be driving at the ragged edge for the chassis to come alive. Even at moderate speeds, a constant stream of information is fed through the chassis and steering. It gives you the confidence to press on as hard as you dare, but it’s perfectly happy to go at your speed, not its speed.
And the brakes are mighty.
It’ll play the hooligan, too, drifting until the tyres burst, and settles down into a comfy cruiser. At £44,000, it’s even quite good value. The only thing I could really count against it is that something mechanical at the rear end was quite noisy – the diff, maybe?
If this all sounds a little analytical, let me put it this way: what the M2 delivers above all else is pure, simple fun. No matter how fast you’re going, it’s an absolute hoot to drive. At a time when so many fast cars – including most BMW M cars – are deadly serious, that’s a rare and valuable thing. And why it gave me the flutter.
Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six turbo petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual; rear-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 370bhp; 343lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 33.2mpg; 199g/km
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
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By Only Motors