When the BMW M2 first debuted, it was seen as a sign of BMW returning to greatness. The M2 represented the best qualities of what BMW used to be, the BMW enthusiasts once knew and missed dearly. It was smaller than the M3 and M4, moderately powerful and focused more on handling feel, rather than performance figures or lap times. It was a car that gave enthusiasts hope, hope that BMW was again moving in the right direction. The BMW M2 was thought of as the modern-day E46 M3, which is largely considered to be the best M3 of all time. So, naturally, almost as soon as it debuted, fans were already thinking ahead. They wanted a lighter, sharper, faster version, akin to the legendary E46 BMW M3 CSL. And now they may have gotten just that, with the brand-new BMW M2 Competition.

If you’re expecting the second-coming of the E46 M3 CSL, stop right there. This is not that. The BMW M2 Competition is more along the lines of the M4 Competition Package, only it’s a bit more of an upgrade over the standard car than the M4 Comp Pack was. But while the BMW M2 Competition isn’t the lightweight, stripped-out track monster many fans hoped it would be, it is a significant upgrade in performance and presence.

Under the hood lies a modified version of the same S55 engine that’s found in the BMW M3 and M4. So it’s a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine that makes 410 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. So it makes a bit less power than the standard M3 but the same amount of torque. We suspect the lower power figure is done so as to not infringe on the M3’s position in the M Division’s performance hierarchy. Though, its matching torque figure will make the M2 Competition an absolute weapon from stop-light to stop-light. Or it could just turn its rear tires to smoke. Time will tell.

That twin-turbo engine is mated to a six-speed manual as-standard, praise the Car Gods. However, a seven-speed DCT is available if you can’t be bothered to use your left leg. Either transmission sends its power to the rear wheels, with an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential dividing up the power between each rear wheel. That electronic M Differential is the same basic unit you’ll find in the M3/M4 but it’s been tweaked for M2 Competition duty.

According to BMW, the BMW M2 Competition will get from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds with the rapid-shifting DCT. If you want to row your own gears, you’ll have to wait an extra two-tenths to get to sixty, as BMW claims a 4.4 second time. However, we think it will be quicker than that, being that the standard M2 does about those times. So adding a lot more torque should only drop the time it takes to reach highway speeds. It also has a limited top speed of 155 mph but that can be increased to 174 mph with the optional M Driver’s Pack.

BMW also fiddled with the oil sump extraction and return systems, to keep things running well under high g-force situations. So everything should stay nice and lubricated even during hard track sessions. The BMW M2 Competition’s cooling system has also been borrowed from the M3/M4, which is a massive improvement over the standard M2. The regular ole M2 suffers a bit when driven hard on hot days, as its engine can heat soak a bit. So the increased cooling is a welcome upgrade.

From the outside, the new BMW M2 Competition is certainly more aggressive than the standard car. It gets new Kidney Grilles, which are slightly larger and sharper-edged. These new grilles are not only more aggressive looking but they’re more functional, as they provide more airflow to help keep things nice and chilly. Those Kidney Grilles are also finished in Shadowline Gloss Black, as well are all the badges, much like the M4 Competition Package, making it seem more menacing. A new color is also available, Hockenheim Silver Metallic, along with Sunset Orange, which was previously available on other BMWs but new to the M2.

It also gets a slightly new front lip, with three little vents in it. It’s subtle but it looks cool. When you look at the M2 Competition in profile, though, you notice the biggest changes. Its ride height seems even lower than on the standard car and it sits on very aggressive, very large 19″ forged alloy wheels. You also get to see the subtle decklid spoiler and the silver brake calipers, which come on the M Sport brakes and are 6-piston at the front and 4-piston at the back. Out back, there’s a black diffuser and black exhaust tips, with a new two-stage exhaust system. There’s also a carbon fiber strut brace under hood, like on the M3/M4.

To make the BMW M2 Competition handle a bit sharper, BMW M re-calibrated the electronic power steering setup, as well as the electronic rear diff. So it’s been sharpened up a bit and we expect big things. The BMW M4 Competition Package handles significantly better than the standard car thanks to that sort of tuning, so the M2 Competition could be even better to drive than the standard car already is. And, for the first time on an M2 model, there are adjustments for the steering and engine, with little buttons next to the shift lever.

Inside, the BMW M2 gets new seats, which are slightly modified M4 seats, if we’re honest. They’re the same basic seats as you’ll find in an M4 but with some blue or orange accents, depending on your choice, and illuminated “M2” logos in the seatbacks. It also gets a red “Start/Stop” button. You can tell BMW spared no expense there…

The BMW M2 Competition looks to be a more aggressive, sharper driving, more powerful version of the M2. It doesn’t seem to be a full-on E46 M3 CSL or anything as hardcore as that, but that could also mean that it shouldn’t lose that delicacy and balance we love in the standard car. We’re hoping it stays as playful as the M2 we know and love, while just gaining a bit or a rawer edge. If BMW pulls that off, it might just have created a new future classic.