The 2023 BMW M2's predecessor, the BMW 1 Series M, was not a good car. I can share that awful, terrible, worst-in-history take because today's my last day at Motor1.com and none of you will be able to find me after this. But seriously, the 1M’s primary issue was that at the time, the BMW M3 (then still available as a two-door) was at its very best with a screaming, naturally aspirated V8. The 1M was more affordable, but not enough so to ignore the superior M3.
For better or worse, it's no longer 2011 and BMW's lineup has evolved considerably. The 1 Series M became the M2 and the two-door M3 morphed into the M4, but in the process, the two cars grew far closer – they've shared powertrains for a generation already, and now the M2 adopts the M4's CLAR architecture. It's not inaccurate to say the new-for-2023 M2 is little more than a scaled down, more affordable version of the M4. And while it has a weight problem (this dopey little coupe weighs 37 pounds more than its theoretically “bigger” sibling), this is merely the first trim in a new generation. Things will only get better from here.
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|2023 BMW M2
|Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-liter I6
|453 Horsepower / 406 Pound-Feet
|$62,200 + $995 Destination
Gallery: 2023 BMW M2: Review
- Exterior Color: Toronto Red
- Interior Color: Black
- Wheel Size: 19/20 Inches (Front/Rear)
The BMW M2 is not a pretty car. There, I said it. But based on the perfectly proportioned 2 Series Coupe and with all the typical M accompaniment, it is a remarkably purposeful thing. Meaty fenders mingle uncomfortably with the 2er's boxy proportions, but they shield fat, staggered wheels/tires. The power bulge on the hood and huge front intakes give the M2 a menacing face, although it's tough to overshadow the rather uninspiring tail. I just can't get behind those square taillights. Still, the M2 (literally) wears its sporty intentions without a hint of shame. I dig that.
When I tested the M2 prototype in May 2022, its cabin was my first taste of BMW's revised tablet-style gauge/infotainment cluster. It looks better without the camouflage, although I'll admit the treatment is a touch derivative considering Mercedes has been doing it for years. Still, the traditional M touches amp things up considerably. The optional carbon-backed buckets remain the best in the industry for support while cornering, and the M steering wheel, complete with carbon-fiber paddles, is a joy to work. Material quality is passable for a $60,000 car with a single-minded focus on performance.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new BMW M2
- Seating Capacity: 4
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 2
- Cargo Capacity: 13.8 Cubic Feet
Small and sporty is not a recipe for comfort. The M2's cabin, like the 2 Series coupe, is tight and the backseat is essentially useless. But those critiques are relative. Compared to other track-focused two-door alternatives like the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, the M2 is average. But those upgraded front seats deserve heaps and heaps of praise. Getting in and out is tricky, but once ensconced, no amount of hard cornering shook me loose.
As Jeff Perez noted in his first drive, ride quality is not the M2's strong suit. But even on rough Detroit roads, I found the Comfort drive setting at least tolerable. This is a tight and focused track star – it's not supposed to be supple and cosseting – but stay away from the firmer suspension settings and the M2 will only shake some of your fillings loose. And more importantly, the M2 felt stable and predictable over rougher roads despite its lightning-quick steering.
- Center Display: 12.3-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 14.9 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes
While the 2 Series launched with iDrive 7, the arrival of the M2 has pushed the entire range into iDrive 8, complete with slab-style display. And while iDrive 8 is quick and very pretty, the more I've been exposed to it, the more it's grated on me. The reconfigurable home screen is messy and the app screen is an absolute catastrophe of small icons that have no logic in color coding. There also doesn't seem to be any easy way to reconfigure the icons.
It's like if someone took the ergonomic catastrophe that is the Chevy Corvette's climate controls and then put it in a touchscreen. The good news is that BMW can fix this. Give us a way to quickly reorganize the tiles, and never, ever get rid of the redundant buttons that surround the physical control dial.
- Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-liter I6
- Output: 453 Horsepower / 406 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
Holy moly, this thing is hilarious. The M2 is more powerful than any of its rivals, including the Audi RS3 we named Motor1.com Best Performance Vehicle in 2022. And that power shows – after a hint of turbocharger lag, the M2 surges forward as the rear tires claw into the pavement. Mid-range punch is world beating, and the power hardly fades as the straight-six engine screams toward redline.
And “screams” is the right word. BMW's inline song remains as pure and addicting as ever in the M2. And while I'll earn scorn for saying it, the M2 is simply better with the eight-speed automatic. Shifts are quick and the action on the paddles is a joy. Sorry manual fans, but there's a reason BMW is doing away with DIY shifting.
The steering is telepathically quick, and while I respect folks that call it nervous, I don't agree with that statement. The M2's tiller is immediate in every sense of the word, but after an adjustment, it does work in everyday life. And when you tick into a sportier drive mode (or one of the programmable modes activated via the red M buttons on the steering wheel), the entire experience comes together. The suspension is very firm in Sport Plus, and as a result, the nose changes direction at the drop of a hat. Body motions are very tight, and it feels like the M2's only limit is the one the driver imposes. This car is a delight.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 1 (Hands-On/Off)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
As a sporty, high-performance car, safety is not exactly on the M2's must-have list. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning are both standard, although adaptive cruise control remains optional. The overall suite lags behind the Audi RS3, although the M2 is far superior to the Porsche 718 Cayman. Adaptive cruise control is an optional extra, although at a mere $550, that's not too annoying.
- City: 16 MPG
- Highway: 23 MPG
- Combined: 19 MPG
|2023 BMW M2 8AT
|2023 Audi RS3
|2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 7AT
- Base Price: $62,200 + $995 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $63,195
- As-Tested Price: $76,545
The M2 is a steal. Its starting price is a staggering $32,000 less than the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, and even loaded out like my tester was, there's still nearly $20,000 in savings with the M2. And within the BMW family, there's a similar story. The rear-drive M4 Coupe starts at $79,095 (including a $995 destination charge) and it simply isn't $16,000 more car. Hell, I'd argue the M4 isn't even $1,600 more car. The M2 is that exciting.
But with my tester's $76,545 starting price, I did find a few features I'd struggle with ordering. Paying $650 for red paint is an absurd notion, considering BMW charges nothing for to finish the M2 in glorious Zandvoort Blue paint. And $1,100 for the Live Cockpit with head-up display is an easy pass, considering polarized sunglasses render the HUD useless. The big-ticket item is the $9,900 Carbon Package, which is the lone way to score the outstanding bucket seats. I don't think I could turn this one down, although the aggressive chairs aren't for everyone – ask your dealer if you can sit in one for a few minutes before buying (these chairs are identical to the ones in the M3/M4).
M2 Competitor Reviews:
2023 BMW M2