It's been rumoured and hinted at for a long time, but it looks like BMW is finally ready to add another model to its ultra-hot M range. Fans lusting after a smaller and cheaper M car will be satisfied imminently as the M2 Coupe is set for release at the end of the year.
The new 2 Series Coupe-based model, shown here in our exclusive image and new Nurburgring testing spy shots, will pick up where the storming 1 Series M Coupe left off, providing a cut-price alternative to the BMW M4.
Sitting above the M235i, the M2 will combine a race-car-for-the-road driving experience with more muscular proportions, flared wheelarches and a trademark M car bonnet bulge. Under the bonnet will be a development of the M235i’s 321bhp 3.0-litre single-turbo straight-six, but with power increased to around 370bhp.
“If you look at the M3 and M4, it’s not just about putting in the biggest engine with the biggest displacement and highest horsepower,” explained Carsten Priest, head of product development for M.
“It’s about the right balance between power and weight, so you have a car that’s quick enough for acceleration, but agile enough and with an additional edge.”
BMW is being careful to ensure the M2 doesn’t step on the M4’s toes, too, hence the more aggressive character, while it’s clearly considering offering only a manual gearbox. “You don’t want to drag people down from an M3 or an M4. That wouldn’t be sensible,” Priest told us. “If you remember the 1 Series M Coupe, there’s always a bit of overlap, but we offered the manual gearbox only – that was one of the main differences.”
A host of race-inspired chassis upgrades should transform the M2 into a purer, faster driving machine, on both road and track. Significantly stiffer fixed-rate dampers will replace the adaptive dampers from the M235i, saving weight and tightening up body control.
There could also be carbon fibre-reinforced plastic panels to strip out yet more weight, and a proper mechanical limited-slip differential. Added Priest: “If you look at what the M235i stands for, it’s a lot of driving excitement and emotion for sure, but it doesn’t go as far as an M core model. To qualify as an M core model, it would have to go quite a big step further.”
According to Priest, there “tends to be a year delay between the base model and the M car”, which led us to expect a Detroit Motor Show debut in January. That didn't materialise, so we are more likely to see the M2 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in October. Prices should start from around £45,000.
Now read our full review of the new BMW M4.