While the new Top Gear’s first series, featuring Chris Evans, Chris Harris and Matt LeBlanc, was a bit of a train wreck, there were some bright spots to it, spots that give us hope for the future. Matt LeBlanc’s Porsche 911 R piece was quite good, as was Rory Reid’s Mustang bit. But probably the biggest bright spot of the series was Chris Harris’ BMW M2 review.
It starts off with Harris giving us a glimpse into the mid 1990’s, a time when music was mostly annoying boy bands and Zubaz pants were actually a thing. But also, there was the E36 BMW M3. The E36 M3 was small, quick, fun to drive and loved to spin its tires. It was also very different from what the current BMW M3 is today, which is brutally fast, very high-tech and much more grown up. But if there is a current car that more correctly follows in the E36 M3’s shoes, it’s the BMW M2.
Harris flogs it around Top Gear’s famous test track to prove that it’s still the sort of car that’s about the simplicity of driving pleasure, rather than technology and lap times. In the video, Harris does his usual big skids and slides, chucking the M2 around like a rag-doll. And, while most BMW customers will never do such things, that’s an important characteristic of a BMW M car.
Then, he compares the M2 to the Audi RS3 Sportback, a car that, on paper, seems superior to the M2. The RS3 is faster, has all-wheel drive, more interior space, better practicality and is cheaper. So it seems that the RS3 would blow the doors off the M2. But these cars are about fun, so Harris compares the two and sees which car is more fun to drive.
To do so, he straps on a sort of helmet with electrodes attached to it, which are connected to some sort of mysterious box. He then takes a corner hard in the RS3 to see how much fun his brain registered on this incredibly accurate piece of equipment. In the Audi, his brain registered 76 “funs”. He then takes the same corner in the BMW M2, sliding the back end out the whole way, and his brain registered a whopping 516 “funs”. It’s very scientific and shouldn’t be questioned.
After driving the M2 and proving how fun it can be using science, Harris comes to the conclusion that the M2 is a fantastic car and one that shouldn’t be called an M2. He reckons, it should be called an M3 because that’s what it feels like it is. A proper M3.