Will the BMW M2 Competition Actually Be Better Than the Standard Car?

BMW M2, News | April 9th, 2018 by 10
Renderings BMW M2 Competition 30 830x553

I had this discussion with someone from inside BMW recently. We were discussing upcoming BMWs and he told me that the next big thing would be the M2 Competition. Although, he didn’t tell me anything about it except confirm what I already knew, that it would be lighter, more powerful and much more aggressive. Then I posed the question of whether or not that would actually be better that way. He looked at me perplexed until I gave my reasoning.

See, the BMW M2 is a great car but not because it’s the fastest, most hardcore and most high-performance car in its segment. The BMW M2 is great because it’s simple, honest and pure. It’s a straight-six up front, a six-speed manual (or DCT) in the middle and drive at the back. It doesn’t have a carbon fiber roof, it doesn’t have carbon ceramic brakes and it doesn’t have a ton of power. It doesn’t even have adjustable suspension. Neither did the E46 M3.

The BMW M2 is a great car because it’s simple and set up to just be a fun driver’s car. It’s not trying to out-gun any Mercedes-AMG or Audi and it’s not trying to prove anything. It’s just been designed to have fun with and you can feel that from behind the wheel. When you get into a BMW M4, or especially the new M5, it feels almost overwhelmingly complex. There are a zillion different combinations of drive modes, two preset buttons, shift-aggression settings (on the DCT) and enough power to feel as if it’s trying to eat itself. The M2 is just a car you can get in and drive quickly without a tutorial first.

So is adding more anger, more aggression and more power going to make it better? It will be faster, for sure. The new BMW M2 Competition makes 410 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, which is up from the standard car’s 365 hp and 343 lb-ft. Though, it does so with the same S55 3.0 liter twin-turbo I6 as the M3/M4 and that engine is far less charismatic than the N55 engine in the standard M2. So while faster, it won’t necessarily be more enjoyable.

The BMW M2 also strikes a great balance in its suspension tuning. It’s firm but it’s not rattle-your-teeth-loose firm. It’s just compliant enough to drive everyday and seems to have that old-school BMW M car suspension compromise. But this new M2 Competition will be lower, stiffer and much sportier. That will pay off on track, without question. It will be sharper, more agile and far more capable. But will it be more fun? I honestly don’t know. There’s a lovely balance to the M2 that might be gone by just cranking its suspension up to eleven.

BMW M2 M Performance wrap 14 830x553

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the BMW M2 Competition. It’s going to be fast and it’s still going to be fun. I just worry that it’s gone too far the other way. The E46 BMW M3 CSL is proof that making it hardcore can be a good thing. But we’re long removed from that car and the more recent example, the BMW M4 GTS, somewhat proves otherwise. So I guess the best way to put it is that I’m cautiously optimistic about the M2 Competition and worried that the car we all love might be lost in it.

10 responses to “Will the BMW M2 Competition Actually Be Better Than the Standard Car?”

  1. ZeroCold says:

    As a ‘18 M2 owner and past owner of two E46 M3’s, I love this car and it reminds me so much of the E46 M3 in so many ways. I wouldn’t pay the premium of a Competition M2. I don’t need anything it’s going to have. My M2’s engine is very strong and sounds great stock. You’re right about the suspension. To me it’s perfectly set up. I’m curious to see both cars head to head on the track and see how much faster the Competition is and then consider how much more money you have to pay for a couple of second (if that) difference.

    • bmw driver says:

      The competition will be much faster. Almost 40hp and 50Nm more will equal a massive difference on track, particularly tracks with longer straights, where the stock M2 is at a disadvantage power wise. However this doesn’t equal better. If the changes had included CFRP for bonnet, roof, wings etc and lots of weight lost, there would be more of a positive difference. The M2’s drivetrain is much better because the engine is better. It’s less laggy and much less on/off like the S55. This really lets the chassis talk to you and report your inputs faithfully. Having spent lots of track and skidpan time with my own 17 M2 and M4 and M3 CPs, the M2 is so easy and rewarding to control at its limits. It feels like it wants to live in that adhesion boundary, while the S55 engined cars, it’s like trying to balance a plate on a toothpick. It’s possible, but mostly frustrating to keep it there.

  2. Airkrd says:

    As an owner of a 2017 M2 I’m obviously biased. There’s definitely part of my primitive brain that wants more power however, I’m not 100% convinced the M2 Comp will be significantly better. I didn’t buy the M2 over the M4 for the discounted price…until the M2 was officially announced, I had every intention to buy an M4. Once the final price and specs were announced, and the first reviews hit the interwebs, I decided to order an M2 instead. Seamed like the more pure BMW driving experience and based on Jason Camissa’s Motor Trend review, wasn’t that far behind the M4 in performance. I can’t help but feel that the M2 comp is taking a bit from the M4 playbook and that may take away a bit of what made the M2 so special. Only time will tell. Once the final specs, MSRP and availability are announced I’ll make my final decision on whether to upgrade. If it’s $10k+ more for 0.1 sec faster 0-60, some fancy trim and aggressiveness like it’s bigger siblings…I’ll probably pass.

    • I feel what you’re saying. I do have to edit this article, though, as I was under the impression the M2 Competition would have the M4’s S55 engine. However, I now know it will have an S58 engine, which is an M-ified version of the absolutely brilliant B58 engine in the M240i and X3 M40i. That engine is fantastic as it is. So the M Division could make it absolutely incredible and that could make the M2 Competition worth it in itself.

      Although, we’ll have to wait for it to debut to pass final judgement.

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