To answer that question honestly, I’d have to say no. Not that there aren’t similarities between the two cars, because there are, but the BMW M2 is more of a spiritual successor to the E46 M3. However, Alex from Car Throttle doesn’t have an E46 M3, he has an E36 M3, so he wonders if the M2 succeeds that car’s spirit.
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Admittedly, there are some striking similarities. Their size, shape and overall look aren’t that far off. Though the E46 M3 is a bit more like the M2 than the E36, thanks to its more rounded shape, you can certainly see the family lineage between the E36 M3 and M2. In fact, if you were to show someone from the ’90s a BMW M2, they’d think it was an M3 coupe from the future, not an entirely different model.
One spiritual aspect of the E36 does shine through to the M2, though, maybe a bit more so than of the E46 — it’s a bit of a hoon. Whereas the E46 is better looking, more comfortable and overall more mature, the E36 just wants to play and it does so with ease. The M2 is like that, as it isn’t very comfortable and the furthest thing from mature. While the E46 M3 is also a hoon, it’s a bit more of a refined hoon. So, in that regard, the M2 and E36 are a bit more similar than anything else. There’s no maturity in either of them, just pure hoonage.
So while I still think that the M2 is closer to the E46 M3, as they’re both around the same size and weight, have similar power figures, look similar and driver similarly, I can see where Alex is coming from. As an E36 M3 fan, though, I must disagree with his comments about not buying one. Broken fans can just be chalked up to character if you’re crazy enough.