Yes, we know – it isn’t a fair fight. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop us from seizing the opportunity to pit the new BMW M2 against the current-generation M3. Ideally, we would’ve taken a sedan with the manual gearbox in a bit to try and even the odds. However, only this rear-wheel-drive Competition was available at the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. As you all know, the Competition-spec M3 has only two pedals.

Let’s face it, BMW would shoot itself in the leg if it made the M2 quicker than the M3/M4. Consequently, the drag races have a predictable outcome, but we’d reckon they’re still fun to watch if you don’t take them too seriously. The coupe equipped with the automatic would’ve done a better job of attempting to keep up because computers are always quicker than a human’s reaction regardless of what purists say. BMW says the Steptronic-fitted M2 hits 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.1 seconds or 0.2s quicker than the stick shift equivalent.

Exciting times are ahead for the G87 as the M division is looking to close the gap with an M2 CS believed to have 518 hp. Not only that, but we’ve also heard through the grapevine an M2 xDrive might just happen in the latter half of the decade. With well over 500 hp sent to both axles via an automatic, the baby M should be able to put up a good fight against its bigger brothers.

The second-generation M2 has just started what should be a long life cycle that could last until mid-2029. That would give BMW plenty of time to extract every drop of performance from this platform before everything becomes hybrid and electric. With the M2 now being closer to the M4 than ever, it has tremendous growth potential that is likely to be exploited in the following years.