BMW has built a miniature muscle car.

What is it?

This angry, very gray coupe is the new BMW M2 Competition. This is Version 2.0 so to speak. See, the "normal" M2 suffered from a tremendous lack of performance and was otherwise a rather bland vehicle (sarcasm), so M GmbH decided to build a much more competitive (hence the “Competition” in the name) car. With an absolute monster of an engine, the M2 Competition follows the old wisdom that it’s never a bad idea to stuff a scary amount of power into a car that is actually too small for it. How wonderful.

What's new?

As I said, the M2 Competition is – in addition to various tweaks – all about the new hammer between the front wheel arches. The M2 Competition now has the S55 3.0-liter biturbo engine from its big brothers, the M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe. Not that it really needed it, but would you complain about scoring the Executive Suite instead of the Premium Double Room? Exactly.

More on the BMW M2:

In Competition trim, the engine makes 405 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That's 40 hp and 37 lb-ft more than before. In other words, the M2 Compeition is more powerful than the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and Audi RS3. The Audi TT RS and Porsche Cayman GTS should also watch out.

The new unit spins much higher than the old one, with a 7,600-rpm redline. Of course, the M2 remains rear-wheel drive and features a standard six-speed manual transmission. Optionally, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is still available. With the two-pedal setup, the M2 can hit 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds (the manual takes 4.4) That’s a tenth of a second faster than before.

More power also means an increased need for need for fresh air. The "Compi" (I'm afraid this term will not prevail) solves this with a larger kidney and a new front apron with much more serious air intakes. All the cooling goodies are much more serious, having come from the M4.

BMW M2 Competition Test
BMW M2 Competition Test

BMW’s engineers told me that they adjusted the setup of the springs and dampers, "because it's just a normal part of a Competition [model].” The front end is stiffer, with a new strut tower brace, which should bring more directness to the front. In addition, the steering, the stability control, and the M-branded differential have been optimized.

Lovers of big brakes can also look forward to the new (optional) performance stoppers. There are six-piston calipers and 15.7-inch pizza pans in front and four-piston calipers and 15-inch discs in back.

How does it look inside?

Inside, the M2 Competition takes inspiration from other M models. It gets the usual drive mode buttons for the powertrain and steering next to the gear lever, while M1 and M2 buttons have sprouted form the steering wheel, so drivers can preconfigure their favorite settings for quick adjustments. The dampers remain old school, that is: completely unadaptive. There are also new performance seats for an extra charge. They’re wonderful, although the biggest advantage of ordering these chairs is that they finally look like professional sport seats and no longer look like something you’d find at Staples.

BMW M2 Competition Test
BMW M2 Competition Test
BMW M2 Competition Test

How does it drive?

It’s brilliant. That sounds like a simple truth, I know, but that's the way it is. Up to this point, the M2 was a very good, very entertaining car with a fine – but by no means towering – engine. To call the M2 Competition an all-engine car now would be nonsense, but only because the rest is far too good. Nevertheless, the N55 is, to a large extent, responsible for the fact that this new M2 is much more exciting than before. It’s amazing how far turbo technology has progressed. There is so much power here it’s almost difficult to manage.

The more powerful M2 Competition is faced with hauling just 3,655 pounds of car – the fact that it shines so brightly is definitely not because it has nothing to move. The new engine doesn’t sound that great, though. It’s not a highlight in the M4 and that’s no different in the M2 Competition, despite its standard performance exhaust system. Inside it sounds quite restless, a screaming exhaust note, but with little body. From the outside the sound is constant, but not very special – you won’t remember it for too long.

BMW M2 Competition Test

And in the corners?

The M2 Competition as a whole is a friendlier, but at the same time more theatrical driving experience. See, because the twin-turbo taxes the rear axle of the Competition a bit more heavily than before, its pronounced tendency to wiggle its butt has not gotten smaller. That means the driver’s right foot needs to exercise constant self-restraint. Driven hard, the M2 Competition mutates into the smallest muscle car in the world. Fans of rear-wheel drive will love and celebrate this. Everyone else can drive Audi – although you’ll miss a lot and here’s why.

Because of the recalibration of ESP and rear differential, the M2 has become more manageable despite its additional power. Its movements belie a playful lightness, it communicates better, flatters the driver more, and gives a better idea of what’s happening on the tarmac. This car is incredibly exciting, intense, but never so that much that it feels unmanageable.

The M2 Competition communicates better, flatters the driver more, and gives a better idea of what’s happening on the tarmac.

To qualify our statements about the M2 wagging its tail, the slippery flamboyance showed up on a race track in southern Spain, where the outside temperatures hovered around 95 degrees Fahrenheit (and even hotter on the track).

On the cooler public roads, a completely different side of the car revealed itself. Fast, clean, and driven on tarmac which doesn’t burn up, the Competition can be breathtakingly precise. Here you also realize that the stiffer front end makes the whole cart more direct and accurate. The M2 flies through the corners. Extremely sharp, compact (despite his immense hips), more focused than I remembered. Nevertheless, the next rather exciting moment is always just a short stab of the throttle away. If you want that, this BMW is really very good and entertaining.

Should I buy it?

To be honest, there is little to complain about. Despite the engine upgrade (believe me, it changes the car completely) and some other new delicacies, the M2 Competition has become only $4,400 more expensive than its predecessor. Sure, $58,900 is not chump change. Yes, the old M2 was fine. And yes, this car is a little overpowered. Not everyone will like that. There are certainly competitors who drive more effectively on the racetrack and need less restraint. But I can’t imagine there is anything in this fun segment that entertains more than the new M2.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

The glorious six-cylinder make the M2 Competition much faster and more captivating. A true beast in a compact format. It’s a bit tough and the rear axle sometimes has problems with all the power. But hey, it’s great, great fun.

Pros:


New six-cylinder is an absolute force.
Even sharper and more agile.
Wags its tail willingly
Only a minor price increase

Cons:

Forgettable sound
A bit too dramatic for some

2019 BMW M2

Engine Twin-Turbocharged 3.0L I6
Output 405 Horsepower / 406 Pound-Feet
Transmission 6-Speed Manual
Speed 0-60 MPH 4.2 Seconds
Maximum speed 173 MPH
Weight 3,655 Pounds
Seating Capacity 4
Base Price $58,900
On Sale July 2018

Gallery: BMW M2 Competition Test