2023 BMW M2
This Pint-Sized Powerhouse Still Packs A Punch
BMW’s M3 performance sedan is legendary, but as it has grown over the years, there was room for a spunkier more compact offshoot, which arrived for 2016 as the M2. Well, now that it’s time for a 2nd generation of that well-loved pint-sized performer, let’s hope the formula stays the same.
If we’re in agreement that the formula that made the original M2 such a hit was having a big powerhouse of an engine crammed into a tiny track-worthy chassis, essentially creating a 3/4-scale M4, then after a quick glance of the spec sheet, this 2023 BMW M2, is off to a good start.
As it appears an inline-6 turbo still lives under the M2’s long hood using 3.0-liters of displacement to breathe 453-horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of fury strictly onto its rear wheels at 7,200 RPM. Yeah baby!
And does it through a standard 6-speed manual transmission, which we highly recommend, though the 8-speed automatic is so good, it’s getting hard to make anything but a purest case for the manual.
So for us, it was the manual all the way, with a trip to Mason Dixon Dragway to add some numbers of our own to the spec sheet.
This engine pulls like an ox on steroids and sounds killer too. The clutch is light, but you don’t need to do a whole lot of modulation.
Just dump it and go, as there’s plenty enough grip in the 20-inch 285 rear tires to transfer the power into 60 miles-per-hour in 4.1-seconds.
Minimal turbo lag, consistent hard-hitting power, and a precise shifter with moderately short throws made quick work of the ¼, finishing in 12.6-seconds at 116 miles-per-hour.
Our test drivers actually used the words “bonkers” and “crazy” to describe braking performance, which I guess are fitting descriptors for stopping from 60 in just 88-feet, smoothly with zero nosedive.
Fun, but a true road course is necessary to get the full M2 experience, and for us it’s the challenging turns of Virginia’s Dominion Raceway. Here the M2 felt light, tossable, playful, and agile without being darty. Basically, just like the last M2, only with more power and tech.
A Head Up display is included with Live Cockpit Pro, and it gave great info in such an easy-to-read manner that, for track work, we actually preferred it over glancing down at the gauges.
At the risk of stating the obvious, handling really is the biggest draw here, but we also still find ourselves asking BMW to somehow engineer more steering feel into the process.
But you don’t have to be at track speeds to enjoy this M2. On the street its nimble and fun to drive too, with a firm suspension that falls way shy of being abusive.
It acts so much more compact than an M4, despite weighing only slightly less, and working with just 20 fewer ponies.
The M Carbon bucket seats were ideal for track work but remain plenty comfortable for everyday use.
The M2 definitely sits low to the ground, and can be difficult for some to get in and out of. But, even with the expected cockpit nature of sporty BMWs, there’s still adequate room for people of all sizes.
Up front that is, as the M2 is surely made for you and one friend to enjoy driving, and the cool places that fun roads tend to take you; as, the back seat is extremely tight and not practical for anyone except in a pinch.
Well put together, but not extravagant is how we’d describe the interior vibe; plenty of the latest tech like BMW’s new curved screen approach, combining the 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Pro gauges in a single housing with the 14.9-inch infotainment screen, both with M-specific displays and graphics.
Outside, while the original was plenty aggressive looking, this M2 appears even more muscular, with exaggerated wheel arches and prominent side skirts. It has grown a bit too; 4-inches longer, a little more than 1-inch wider, yet it sets 3/10ths of an inch lower. A carbon fiber roof is optional.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 16-City, 24-Highway, and 19-Combined. We averaged a fine 22.5 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
That’s an Energy Impact Score just barely below average; 15.7-barrels of yearly oil use, with 7.6-tons of CO2 emissions.
M2 pricing starts at $63,195; about 15-grand less than an M4 Coupe.
While there does seem to be more fun rear-wheel-drive cars to choose from these days, than there has been in a long time, most are clearly aimed at the younger crowd. The 2023 BMW M2 offers a high-powered alternative for more mature drivers, who may have a little extra coin for something fun but need to stay well short of exotics. The M3 and M4 may still be faster, but when it comes to having more fun behind the wheel, the M2 is the clear winner once again.
- Engine: 3.0L Turbo I-6
- Torque: 406 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.6-seconds at 116 mph
- EPA: 16 City / 24 Highway / 19 Combined
- Horsepower: 453
- 0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 88 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 22.5 MPG (Premium)