The triumph of the BMW 1 Series M Coupe (1M) caught Munich’s board members off guard. However, the decision to succeed the car sparked a heated debate within BMW. According to Steve Saxty’s “BMW by Design” book, Ian Robertson, former Board Member for Sales and Marketing, and Klaus Fröhlich, former head of BMW R&D, envisioned the BMW M2 as a true successor to the 1M. Despite internal advocacy for an all-wheel-drive (xDrive) or even a front-wheel-drive (FWD) model, the two board members were resolute that the first M2 (F87 codename) had to be a rear-wheel-driven sports car with a six-cylinder engine.

The design team was also excited about the prospect of a BMW, especially since it was supposed to pay hommage to the iconic BMW 2002 Turbo. In 2015, three designers became working on sketches for the first M2: Hussein Al-Attar, Alex Ekimov and Alexey Kheza.  The latter’s design was chosen for what become, in our opinion, one of the best looking BMW concept cars of the last two decades: the BMW 2002 Turbo. And the story goes on saying that BMW even considered a small production run of the exciting hommage car. But as with most cool projects, this one ended in the archives.

Photo for BMWBLOG by @CKCMNS

Certainly, the F87 BMW M2 made its way to the market boasting a stunning design by Al-Attar, who continued to craft several cars in the subsequent years. Even today, the F87 BMW M2 receives acclaim for its harmonious blend of soft and precise lines, featuring exaggerated fenders and a stance befitting the title of the 1M’s successor. Initially, it had an N55 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine sourced from the series production of BMW cars, only to be later replaced by the fans’ favorite S55 M engine. In the end, the F87 BMW M2 exhibited two characters, mirroring those of its engines.

But one has to wonder: What if BMW had given the F87 M2 a front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine? Would that have altered the history and success of the car? So far, none of the M cars (excluding M Performance Automobiles) have employed a front-wheel-drive layout, and that’s something praised by the vocal M community. Of course, the xDrive topic is a little bit different because that topic is once again on the table with the second-generation G87 M2.

With increased power and torque, along with a broader customer base, BMW M has allegedly found itself reexamining the concept of an all-year-round nimble sports car. While the M team remains tight-lipped, rumors abound regarding a potential G87 M2 xDrive in 2026. Fortunately, if that materializes, the BMW M2 will have enjoyed a commendable run with a rear-wheel-drive setup. Both the F87 and G87 M2s earn praise for their driving dynamics and fun factor, despite their growth in size and weight—qualities rarely witnessed in a world currently saturated with SUVs or large GTs.

For now, we’re just grateful that Robertson and Fröhlich fought for the RWD original M2 which will go down in the history of BMW as a true successor to the iconic 2002. Now only if BMW had built the 2002 Turbo Hommage as well. If you’re interested in reading more BMW design behind-the-scenes stories, then the three-volume boxed set will be available soon at a pre-order price of £244.95, around $300.. Alternatively, the principal book, “BMW by Design” is available immediately for $99.95/€90.02/£88.10; all with free shipping in USA, UK and EU.