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All-New 2016 BMW M2: Provokes Emotional Behavior

By Arv Voss, May 14th, 2016

I've owned my BMW 2002 for more than 20 years and love it. The introduction of the 2002 launched the concept of a subcompact yet powerful, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe engineered and built with German precision.

Now there is a BMW that surpasses my affection: the 2016 BMW M2 Coupe, which has also been designated as the official Moto GP Safety Car. This new coupe represents an even extended evolution of the famed 2002.

The 2016 BMW M2 is powered by a 3.0-liter, 24-valve inline six-cylinder with M TwinPower Turbo technology, it cranks out a total of 365 horsepower, along with torque in a range from 1,400 to 5,560 rpm for a total of 343 lb.-ft. (369 with overboost).

Transmission choices for the M2 Coupe include a six-speed manual gearbox that features automatic rev-matching, or a seven-speed double clutch automatic with Drivelogic.

Outstanding highlights of the M2 Coupe include more torque than past generation M3s; enhanced M TwinPower Turbo Technology that yields even more impressive performance capability; improved stability with a wider track, utilizing lightweight aluminum suspension componentry; the innovative auto rev-matching manual gearbox; a fully variable Active M Differential; and Nurburgring-tested M compound high-performance brakes.

The BMW M2 Coupe combines a sporting presence and athletic agility with an evocative and emotional exterior design. It displaying an athletic stance with bold design elements on the one hand, while providing an impressive amount of power along with its focus on sporting achievement and credible everyday practicality on the other.

Hallmark BMW proportions and compact dimensions are displayed by a short front overhang, sweeping hood, long wheelbase, and set-back greenhouse with BMW's classic Hofmeister kink. The broad rear-end is reinforced by horizontal lines in the trunk lid and rear apron, and the M trunk lid rear spoiler accentuates the elevated dynamic image of the M2.

The defining elements of the interior include a driver-focused cockpit with a contemporary brand of functionality. The coupe's distinguished design identity illustrates its forward progress, reflecting the Ultimate Driving mantra in a more concentrated and intense form than ever before. Connectivity is state-of-the-art, as are its driver assistance features, but that's not really what the M2 is all about.

The M2 Coupe is fitted with the BMW iDrive operating system, featuring a freestanding onboard flat screen monitor. Instruments with BMW M2-specific dials and needles, a speedometer scale reaching to 200 mph, and a tachometer reading up to 8,000 rpm provide an indication of the car's performance potential. Familiar M features also include M logos on the tachometer, gearshift lever, door sill plates, and M leather steering wheel with shift paddles. Other highlights include a BMW M2 trim strip with surfacing in open-pore carbon fiber and Alcantara for the door panel inserts, parking brake boot, and shift lever boot (manual transmission only).

During the international media launch based in California, I was afforded the opportunity to put the 2016 BMW M2 Coupe through its paces in normal, everyday driving scenarios, as well as on the famed Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.

Test BMW 2 Series coupes were equipped with the seven-speed DCT automatic transmissions for track exercises and the six-speed manual gearboxes for on-road driving scenarios. All sported a Long Beach Blue metallic exterior finish and Black Dakota leather interior. The base price was set at $51,700, while the as-tested price came to $54,495 for the M/T version.

Track sessions were conducted in a "lead-follow" format with two vehicles per each driving instructor pace car -- one piloted by Bill Auberlin, Champion BMW Works driver, the other by Claudia Hurtgen, Global Chief Instructor of the BMW Group Driving Experience program.

I enjoyed an initial eight-lap session, followed by as many sessions as time allowed. It goes almost without saying that the 3.0-liter, turbocharged, six-cylinder engine is an incredible force -- a potent powerplant in a subcompact, rear-wheel-drive vehicle that is indeed indicative of BMW's "Ultimate Driving Machine" mantra. The braking performance is equally impressive.

The M2 is truly a driver's car that may be piloted in either a normal, docile, around-town cruising mode, or in all-out, "pedal to the metal" fashion. The DCT automatic transmission may be operated in a normal comfort mode, a sport mode, or in an invigorating Sport Plus mode. It may be operated in a fully automatic state, or gears may be selected manually via either steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles or the console-positioned stalk, but it is pleasing in either format and every mode. The Sport and Sport Plus modes deliver elevated performance and response levels as well as more pleasing engine and exhaust notes.

Traction and stability aiding systems may be switched off for highly spirited driving maneuvers by highly skilled drivers, or for a thrilling drifting experience on the track. Acceleration is stellar, handling characteristics are incredible, and the ride quality may be adjusted to suit the driving scenario at hand.

The BMW M2 Coupe evokes a highly emotional, bold, and muscular image, with power and performance to spare in spades along with a reasonable operational efficiency capability. It is definitely a top player in the subcompact performance coupe category, and has moved up to become my new favorite BMW Coupe -- until such time as an even better and more powerful M version undoubtedly comes along.

Specifications

Base price $51,700 (as tested: $54,495)
Curb weight 3,505 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Engine type 24-valve TwinTurbo I6 w/HPI
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.7 gal.
Horsepower (net) 365 at 6500 rpm
Overall length 176.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 343 at 1400-5560 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD subcompact coupe
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