Test Drive: 2016 BMW M2

We hit the streets and the track in everyone's favorite pocket rocket

The sad mediocrity of companies creating products that try to be all things to all people all of the time is a conversation commonly overhead at CH HQ. Heroically, the new 2016 BMW M2 is just the opposite—an almost flawlessly executed small performance coupe that thrills on the track and delights on the street, accompanied by what it needs and not much more. It’s a blast to drive, and accessibly priced. Others are more luxurious, more powerful, have more bells and whistles, are more exotic and may get more stares, but few can compete with the joy behind the wheel of the M2.

Brands invite journalists to try out their cars, often in groups, and our visit to Monterrey, California and the nearby Laguna Seca racetrack was typical of most test drive events. What isn’t typical is to have 30 journalists nodding and smiling and agreeing that there’s much to love and little to dislike about anything, especially a car they’ve spent all day driving.

The M2 is balanced, considered and logical—there’s no over-styling, gizmos or ornamentation to distract you from the task at hand. It’s very adequately powered to move (the US spec features a 365 hp 3 liter TwinScroll turbo inline six engine that delivers 343 lb-ft of torque and shares several components with the brand’s larger M3 and M4 cars) as it is to brake. Handling is responsive and visceral. Two performance modes—Sport and Sport+—are all you need. Tires stick like glue on corners, and magical sounds pour out of the exhaust. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in a spritely 4.2 seconds (4.4 seconds with the manual transmission).

A manual six-speed with rev matching is standard on the $51,700 M2; its super-smooth seven-speed double clutch automatic is one two available options, adding $2,900. A single accessory package is available which includes practical things like automatic high beams, a rear view camera and a heated steering wheel among others for $1,250. Want a color other than white? Black, blue or grey will set you back another $550. That’s it—everything else, including the 19” black double spoked wheels, harmon/kardon premium sound system and nav—is included.

The M2 arrives in dealers in April 2016.

Interior image courtesy of BMW, all others by Evan Orensten