Many readers and viewers had follow-up questions after I posted my review of the new 2023 BMW M2 in both video and print formats, which was anticipated given the extensive information I provided. Several of those inquiries were either regarding the comparison between the new M2 and F87 M2 or the distinction between the M2 and M4. Of course, I touched on those topics quite extensively, but will try to extrapolate that information in this mini review. I’ll also touch on the topic of the alleged laggy six-speed manual in the G87 M2 in this article here.
G87 M2 vs. G82 M4
The new 2023 BMW M2 appears to be a mini-M4 based on its specifications. The M2 shares similarities with the M4 in terms of its platform, chassis strengthening, engine, brakes, suspension, steering, gearbox, and other components. It is evident that the M2 was developed from the M4. BMW, however, claims that they intended the G87 M2 to have a distinctive personality, which in my opinion suggests that they did not want it to be perceived as a budget version of the M4.
Although most of the mechanical components were carried over to the M2, there were certainly software modifications made specifically for the M2 to suit its individual character, size, and power. And you can fell that on the road. The G82 M4 is a brute, pure and simple. This is a GT car meant to deliver a lot of power, quickly, yet with a lot of grip.
On the other hand, the G87 M2 lives up to its “Baby-M” name, not necessarily because of its weight (insignificant compared to the M4), but mostly because of its proportions. Even if you close your eyes, you can tell immediately whether you’re in an M2 or M4. The new M2 drives like a sports coupe – with a tighter front-end and even grippier rear – while the M4 is arguably a luxury GT car. Additionally, the difference between G87 M2 and G82 M4, as well as F87 M2 and F82 M4, appears even more apparent to me.
I’ve had a chance to drive the new M2 on the track as well last year and despite being a prototype, it was pretty much production ready. And the delta between the M2 and M4 was even more obvious there. The M4 is a monster on track, thanks to its massive power. In its RWD configuration, the M4 is quite tail happy, with slides that can be easily induced even without adjusting the M Traction Control settings. On the other hand, the G87 M2 felt more composed, precise when turning in and very composed and stable on the exit line. Again, this was in the “stock” SPORT+ configuration, no MDM or full DSC OFF.
While the 1M (I own one) and G87 M2 are far from being comparable, they do share the typical characteristics of a compact and smallish sports coupe. So when I jumped behind the wheel of this new M2, I immediately felt at home and reminded me more of my 1M than the many Gx M3 and M4s I drove before.
I must acknowledge my slight bias here as I have been forthcoming about my preference for the M2 as my favorite M car, based on the aforementioned reasons. However, I intend to conduct a direct comparison between the M2 and M4 in the future to objectively measure and quantify the disparities between the two or gather concrete data to support my claims. And some of that data will be focused on the manual transmission differences. More on that topic here.
A mini-M4 on paper only
To sum up, in my humble opinion, the 2023 BMW M2 is a car that has its own distinctive character in the M series and is not merely a budget-friendly M4. Purchasing the M2 is driven by a love for its unique form factor and driving capabilities rather than a lack of financial means to afford the 20% pricier M4. BMW’s objective with the new M2 was evidently different: to create a sports car that can be driven at high speeds without requiring excessive effort. In other words, to build a sportscar that you can just point and go fast without having to fight it too much.
However, not everyone desires this driving experience. Most enthusiasts prefer a more challenging drive, which involves controlling the car’s rear-end at every turn or utilizing the throttle to spin the car, if that makes sense. So we can call it a mini-M4 all day long, but once you drive them back-to-back, you’ll realize how different they are.