Identifying the Ultimate
Like most car enthusiasts, my love of the automobile goes back to my childhood where I could easily identify the make and model of most every vehicle as it drove by. To be fair, back in that era we had just four or five TV channels and phone numbers with no area codes and used memorable names for prefixes. Our family phone number was DIamond 3-3924.
It was a simpler era back then and I wouldn’t hold today’s youth to the standard of standing on a busy boulevard and accurately identifying every machine that drove by, although one that’s perennially easy is BMW. That kidney grille with a round badge are dead giveaways, until very recently. A pair of tall, new bold rectangles have been showing up on various BMW models, replacing the seemingly timeless kidneys, and not everyone is pleased. When the new grille appeared on BMW’s M4 coupe in 2021, Car & Driver magazine posed a dog in front to block the image. But when my M2 showed up for testing the other day, no pooch was required since the kidneys were familiar. If you’re paying strict attention, the grille slats on the M badged cars are horizontal and of course, not chrome finished.
Function Follows Form
Behind the M2’s aggressive, performance-oriented face with seriously functional air intakes below and LED headlight scowls on each corner, a tightly tuned coupe is ready for serious motoring. The fun begins with the smooth, twin-turbo inline six that makes 453-hp and feeds either an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission or a six-speed gearbox for the purist.
The bodywork, from air vents to rear fender flares and a carbon fiber roof (a reasonable $2,500 option) are all as functional as they are aggressive. And the M2’s rear, a view most encountered by competitive motorists, sports a working air diffuser surrounded by four big exhaust pipes. The exhaust melody can be controlled to either speak with deep authority or bark and snarl like an un-muffled Harley. I recommend the subtle-sound approach in city limits since just showing up in this track-ready rocket, finished in Zandvoot Blue has already captured the attention of local authorities. And do you really look that good in an orange jumpsuit?
This is BMW’s second edition of the M2 and they’ve done a splendid job of improving what was already a great example of The Ultimate Driving Machine. The wheelbase has been stretched a couple of inches for a bit more needed legroom and a bit wider for even better handling. This is a car that’s both fast and quick that can’t wait to go where it’s pointed. And the new, wide display and switchgear allow programming the M to do whatever task you wish, from steering and brake feel to suspension and power settings.
It’s even fun entering this cool little coupe with deep bolstered black leather bucket seats accented with blue and red trim and an illuminated M2 badge in the seatback as a finishing touch. It’s a premium experience that’s expected but not always delivered, even at this $69,695 price point. An obvious competitor is Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 or the Lexus RC F if you want to add two more cylinders. Or just go to the limit and get the Dodge Challenger Demon Last Call, now with 1,025-horsepower. Did you want that orange suit in XL?
THE FINE PRINT
2023 BMW M2
TYPE: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 3.0-liter Turbo I-6
HORSEPOWER: 453 @ 6,250 RPM
TORQUE: 406 lb.ft. @ 2,850 - 5,870 RPM
BASE PRICE: $62,200
AS TESTED: $69,695
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16-city, 24-highway, 19-combined