The second-generation BMW M2 G87 is here, and its recipe is simple: a compact, rear-wheel-drive rush of a car with a confining back seat. However, BMW’s M division, known for its commitment to delivering high-performance driving machines, has once again stirred emotions with the latest iteration of the M2 Coupe.

Without diving too deep into the controversy, those familiar with the car world know that discussions center around the car’s design, weight, and the shift towards becoming a slightly smaller take on the M4 instead of an uprated 2-Series. Purists have lamented the increased heft and more aggressive styling, fearing a departure from the raw, mechanical essence of its predecessor. Conversely, others praise the advancements in technology and performance, viewing the new M2 as a necessary evolution in the high-stakes world of modern sports cars.

Coming From an F87 M2 Competition

To fully appreciate the significance of the new M2 G87, I felt that, as a previous owner of two F-Series (M2 Coupe and M2 Competition) and a frequent driver of a BMW 1M Coupe, it was about time to spend longer than 30 minutes behind the wheel of one and understand what the Germans from Garching really came up with. It was time to jump behind the wheel of a new M2 outfitted with a range of M Performance parts owned by one of Germany’s biggest BMW dealers, Autohaus Cuntz.

Beloved Icon

As many of you know, the original BMW M2, introduced in 2016, quickly became a beloved icon in the automotive world. It represented a return to BMW’s roots, offering a compact, rear-wheel-drive coupe with a turbocharged inline-six engine, delivering pure driving pleasure. The M2’s design was a perfect blend of aggression and elegance, with flared fenders, muscular lines, and a stance that screamed performance. Its handling was lauded for being sharp and responsive, thanks to a well-tuned chassis and a limited-slip differential. The engine, an N55 3.0-liter inline-six, produced 365 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque, providing the right mix between a fun driver’s car and a compact driving experience.

The M2 Competition, introduced in 2018, enhanced the car’s capabilities with a more powerful engine borrowed from the M3 and M4, producing 405 horsepower. This model also featured improved cooling, revised suspension components, and an upgraded braking system, making it even more track-ready. The M2 set a high benchmark for compact sports cars, combining performance, practicality, and the quintessential BMW driving dynamics.

The M2 CS rounded off the lineup with a limited-run model that offered top-of-the-line handling and additional oomph from the engine, which was restrained in the Competition model. Available with both manual and automatic gearboxes and based on the 2-Series platform, the lineup distinguished itself greatly from its bigger M3, M4, and M5 family members as the fun little brother with too much swagger.

Brilliant Powerplant

The new 2023 BMW M2 Coupe carries the legacy forward with significant updates and enhancements. The most noticeable difference is in the platform. No specific 2-Series chassis, but the same CLAR platform as the M3 and M4, shortened but also allowing the engineers to include wider front and rear tracks in comparison to its predecessor while offering improved balance and a stiffened body shell absolutely packed with features and parts from its bigger brothers.

At its heart lies the highlight of BMW’s engine range, a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline-six engine, codenamed S58, also shared with the latest M3 and M4 models. Delivering 453 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, it is a notable increase over its predecessor. Not only because of its figures but more importantly on the topic of reliability, performance delivery, and tuning ability. The S58 is an absolute feast to control. The power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic, catering to both purists and those seeking convenience.

3.9 Seconds

The M2 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds with the automatic transmission, while the manual version achieves the same sprint in 4.1 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but this can be increased to 177 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package. More than enough performance, and on paper quite similar to what the model had on offer as well, but this is where the similarities end because the new M2 Coupe is a lot different from its predecessors than you might think at first.

More Serious and Grown Up

In many ways, the evolution of the M3 and M4 lineup has made those models grow up and become more serious and capable. The new G8x model lineup shines more predominantly as a daily driver offering some kind of luxury grandeur, refinement inside the cabin, and a relatively quiet soundtrack that is enhanced by fake sound pumped into the cabin. Some might say there is less engagement, experience, and driving fun; others say the driving fun has just been redefined.

You can listen to one side or the other, but due to the car’s immensely improved capabilities, the pure all-day driving fun is now further away than it’s ever been. Maybe not an issue if you are looking for a proper daily, but for a person who has experienced many of BMW M’s highlights over the last 25 years, it might come across as a bit too soulless and a relatively “easy” or approachable driving experience. Some might call it computerized with pure experience indicators as sound, vibration, brake, and steering feel having been toned down considerably.

To connect this short recap to the new M2, you only need to do one thing, and that is reading the same text segments above again and replace the M3 and M4 with the new M2 Coupe. The resemblance between the three models is immediately obvious upon the first kilometers driven, more than ever before, making the new M2 more of a smaller M4 than a beefier 2-Series capable of standing on its own feet. A logical and obvious choice made by BMW M, because of cost reductions, improved production efficiency, and development timelines.

Enhanced Driving Dynamics

The overall driving dynamics of the new M2 are definitely further enhanced over its predecessors by the integration of the latest BMW M technologies. The M Dynamic Mode allows for more aggressive driving with greater wheel slip, while the M Traction Control system offers ten stages of adjustment, allowing drivers to fine-tune the level of intervention. These features, combined with the adaptive suspension and active differential, provide a driving experience that allows a lot more drivers to become a driving hero and reach the limits of this two-door coupe.

Hit the Germans Autobahns, floor the throttle, and you will hit the M2’s limited top speed without any sweat, and you can do it over and over again until you run out of fuel. At high speed, bumps are evened out with more grace. The car feels immensely stable due to its wider track and the push in performance feels tremendously linear and reassuring. It almost feels computer-like how well the vehicle repeats its abilities. For drivers who haven’t experienced previous BMW models, this is hugely encouraging, but for some who have experienced BMW’s past it is way too serious and also a touch soulless.

Significant Upgrades In The Cabin

The interior of the new M2 Coupe has been significantly upgraded, reflecting a blend of luxury and sportiness. The cabin features high-quality materials, including premium leather and Alcantara upholstery, with contrast stitching and M-specific design elements. The seats are newly designed M carbon bucket sport seats, offering excellent support and seating comfort for both everyday driving and spirited cornering. These seats are also heated but have their flaws. The carbon fiber manhood altar between your legs is constantly in the way when you press the brake pedal, and drivers using a stick shift have complained enough about this unnecessary carbon fiber insert. Also, the side bolsters are too high for easy daily entry and exit of the car.

Next to this, all other highlights in the cabin are taken from the M3 and M4. The driver-focused cockpit includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch central touchscreen, both running BMW’s latest iDrive 8 infotainment system. This setup offers a seamless and touch-bloated user experience, with features such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, and a premium audio system, which is surprisingly well done. The M2 also includes a head-up display, which projects key information onto the windshield, allowing the driver to stay focused on the road.

The interior space has been optimized, with improved rear-seat legroom and a more spacious trunk compared to the previous model. The overall layout and ergonomics ensure that all controls are within easy reach, enhancing the driving experience to a level that is pretty much the same as its bigger brothers.

M Performance Parts

Like many other models in the BMW range, the Germans offer a range of M Performance parts for the 2023 M2, allowing owners to further enhance the car’s aesthetics and performance. These parts are designed to be seamlessly integrate

d with the vehicle, ensuring optimal fit and function, while also allowing dealers to upsell these parts in the direction of their clients.

Like the overall exterior design of the new M2, the M Performance parts are a bold departure from the previous range, featuring more aggressive and angular styling. You either hate them or love them, quite similar to the car’s base design. At the front, you can opt for a range of new add-ons and a front splitter, all made of carbon fiber. These are placed alongside the standard plastic kidney grille and adaptive LED headlights. The sculpted hood is accentuated by a U-shaped sticker, which is part of the M Performance sticker pack that you also see on the sides of the car.

The M Performance carbon upgrades on the car I drove continue on the sides and the rear. A collection of side skirt attachments, four side spats, a rear lip spoiler, and a carbon fiber rear diffuser are fitted to the white M2. You can opt for a rear spoiler and a roof spoiler if you prefer. And for those of you interested, BMW also offers a funky-looking M Performance exhaust system and tailpipe trims in carbon fiber/titanium, which can be fitted to the standard exhaust system.

From a performance point of view, you can also get adjustable coil-over kits, allowing owners to fine-tune the car’s ride height and handling characteristics, and an uprated brake kit plus lightweight wheels reducing unsprung weight and the option to fit center locks. Overall great upgrades, which do come at a hefty cost but allow you as the owner installation and warranty through your BMW dealer. Something that might not be the case when you opt for other aftermarket parts.

And finally, inside the interior, you can opt for a new steering wheel with a thicker rim (not a fan), Alcantara wrapping, and a red center stripe plus more carbon fiber and Alcantara trim, pedal covers, new armrest, and floor mats with unique stitching and M branding.

Redefining Driving Fun In A Controversial Design

The 2023 BMW M2 represents a bold evolution of the M2 lineage, blending BMW M’s latest technology with a level of driving purity that is more aimed at being an everyday daily driver and less focused on pure always-on driving fun. The adaptation of the M4’s CLAR architecture has changed the M2 in a way that purists might not feel enough engagement and feedback from the car. It is simply all too good and relatively too easy, and therefore not the evolution many had hoped for.

A Formidable Contender In The Segment

Add this to the controversy over its design, those bucket seats, and increased weight, and you are presented with a vehicle that might not be the obvious first choice for old-school enthusiasts. They might hold onto their F-Series models or look elsewhere in the direction of Zuffenhausen. Still, the enhancements in performance (that engine!), handling, and interior refinement make it a formidable contender in the compact sports car segment.

The availability of M Performance parts allows owners to further tailor the car to their preferences, ensuring that the M2 can be as unique as its driver. Ultimately, the new M2 strikes a really delicate balance between honoring its heritage and embracing the future, solidifying its place in the world of modern sports cars. It will, however, never place at the top. I might sound old-school now, but the past was a lot more interesting and fun.

[Photos provided by @MSCK64 on Instagram – Vincent Toth]