2023 BMW M2 Tested: Strong Medicine


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From the June 2023 issue of Car and Driver.

Do you struggle to make sense of today’s influx of heavy, absurdly powerful EVs? Does trying to discern one SUV body shape from another induce anxiety and depression? Then you may suffer from transitional automotive disorder. Ask your BMW dealer if the new M2 coupe is right for you. (Side effects may include joyous laughter at extralegal speeds, increased tolerance for g-forces, and cravings for empty, curvy roads.)

The second-generation M2’s formulation is simple in that it condenses the workings of the one-size-up M4, one of BMW M’s finest, into a more playful package. At $63,195 to start, it’s also $12,500 less expensive. Based on the redesigned 2-series coupe produced in Mexico, the M2 remains a compact rear-wheel-drive rush of a car with a confining back seat, though its wheelbase and overall length have increased by 2.1 and 4.1 inches to 108.1 and 180.3 inches, respectively. It’s also now a little shorter in stature yet 1.3 inches broader in beam, with wider front and rear tracks that now match the M4’s. While the ductwork on the M2’s stylized bumpers appears disjointed from certain angles, prominently flared fenders lend this upright three-box coupe the swagger of a vintage IMSA racer. Thankfully, its larger sibling’s controversial bucktooth maw is not included.

The M2 is strictly rear-wheel drive, but BMW otherwise incorporates virtually all the M4’s (and mechanically identical M3 sedan’s) other major bits into the M2, including its twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. In this application, BMW’s S58 mill generates a stout 453 horsepower—20 horses less than what it makes in the standard M4 but 48 more than the outgoing M2 Competition’s S55 inline-six produced (it’s a stronger dosage than even the limited-edition 444-hp M2 CS provided). A six-speed manual remains standard, with the no-cost automatic option being a ZF-sourced eight-speed in place of the previous seven-speed dual-clutch unit. The EPA pegs both setups at 19 mpg combined, roughly the same as the previous-gen M2 Competition. Not that we need extra incentive to select the DIY gearbox, but according to the EPA, it’ll take the M2 a mile farther per gallon on the highway.

HIGHS: Awesome twin-turbo six, feisty rear-wheel attitude, greater overall refinement.

From the engine’s melodious race toward its 7200-rpm redline to the velvety growl it emits through its quad tailpipes, it’s business as usual for this excellent straight-six. The main difference is that while the M2 makes the same 406 pound-feet of torque at the same 2650 rpm as the M4’s headier tune, its thrust builds more progressively as revs increase. With slightly less turbo boost to manage (17.4 psi versus the base M4’s 18.9), it’s easier to feed in the power without upsetting the car’s hold on the road. Paired with the manual transmission’s precise, if somewhat rubbery, shifter and a set of tightly spaced pedals, this is one of BMW’s most potent treatments for driving boredom.

The M2’s stiffened body shell houses the M4’s rear axle with its electronically controlled limited-slip differential, as well as that car’s suspension links, adaptive dampers, and brakes (15.0-inch iron rotors in front, 14.6-inch units out back). Minor tuning changes, such as springs that are slightly firmer in the front and softer in the back, help temper the M2’s willingness to rotate on a wheelbase that’s 4.4 inches shorter than big brother’s. But even the M4’s 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires carry over. We recorded a heady 1.03 g’s of grip on the skidpad, along with tidy stopping distances from 70 mph (154 feet) and 100 mph (302 feet). Carbon-ceramic brakes aren’t on the menu, but track-oriented Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are, and a lighter carbon-fiber roof (as seen here) is also available.

BMW’s Curved Display, consisting of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch center touchscreen, dominates the business-casual interior and incorporates many of the climate controls that previously had separate buttons and switches. Despite the additional width and ample legroom up front, you still wear this car more than sit in it, especially if you opt for the $9900 Carbon package and its hard-shell M Carbon bucket seats. Though ultrasupportive and good for a claimed 24-pound weight savings, their firm padding and lack of lumbar adjustment punished our lower backs. Stick with the softer standard sport seats with still-generous side bolsters that hold snugly—they’re far more agreeable.

LOWS: Heavier than before, funky bumper treatments, still-cramped back seat.

Recommendations for navigating the M2’s numerous drive settings include activating either the general Sport or Track modes (there’s also a default Road setting), which provide a simplified gauge display that’s easier to read at speed. A stiff ride is mostly mitigated by selecting the softest suspension mode, which provides enough compliance not to feel brutally harsh on most surfaces. We also deactivated the manual’s rev-matching feature, set the steering response to Comfort (Sport increases effort but not tactility), and left the brake-pedal feel alone (we couldn’t discern a difference between modes). The M4’s Drift Analyzer is present for scoring your slides around a racetrack, but track-bound drivers will find the updated stability-control system with 10 stages of traction-control intervention more useful.

Unfortunately, the M2’s changes bring an additional 184 pounds of mass compared with the old Competition model. Our 3745-pound test car weighed more than an M4 equipped with a manual transmission and carbon-ceramic brakes, and it was 0.1 second slower to 60 mph than the M4 or old M2 Comp, posting a 3.9-second time. In terms of top-gear acceleration from 30 and 50 mph, where engine responsiveness is key, the gap between the M2 and its predecessor is even more pronounced. Only at triple-digit speeds does the new car flex its stronger legs: While its 12.2-second quarter-mile pass may be just a tenth quicker than before, its 118-mph trap speed is 4 mph faster. The automatic version we tested was unsurprisingly quicker, sprinting to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and covering the quarter-mile in 11.7 seconds at 122 mph, running wheel to wheel with the 503-hp M3 Competition.

The M2 works best as a stimulant for the neural pathways linked to pleasure and fine motor control. Swells of midrange power allow for careful attitude adjustments with the throttle as the car squirms over undulating pavement. Turn-in response is crisp as the chassis neatly orients itself over midcorner bumps, subtly telegraphing load transfers to your backside. Given that it shares the M4’s variable steering hardware, its chunky helm remains lighter on feel than, say, a Porsche 718’s. But its overall comportment and accuracy make this Bavarian muscle coupe a more pleasurable performance remedy.

VERDICT: Strong medicine for the driver’s soul.

Science has yet to find a cure for transitional automotive disorder, as it spreads naturally in the open market, spurred on by environmental and societal factors. But thanks in large part to its bountiful raid on BMW’s parts bin, the new M2 offers powerful relief.


BMW missed the mark. The previous F87-gen M2 had a personality all its own while still feeling like a member of the M family. This new G87 M2 is just an M4 in a different wrapper. And if you didn’t like the M4’s nostrils, I doubt this cubism-meets-machine design will excite you. The M2 performs admirably, it’s plenty capable, and I’m sure it will put down impressive lap times, but I’m old enough to remember when M cars did more than just generate great numbers. They felt the fastest without actually being the fastest. The previous M2 had that magic and will be missed. Also, ditch the massive touchscreen. It’s a distraction in what’s supposed to be a driver-focused car. —K.C. Colwell

The M2 resembles a kid in a puffer jacket. Its wheels, lights, and vents are sunk deep in the bodywork—a choice intended to read as muscular but which comes off more like an allergic reaction. But the M2 doesn’t feel dulled by Benadryl. Alert and enthusiastic, it boosts your confidence on curvy roads and greets each downshift with a cheery roar. This kid should be your first pick for the team. It’s ready to play. —Elana Scherr

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2023 BMW M2

Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe


Base/As Tested: $63,195/$75,345

Options: Carbon package (carbon-fiber trim, roof, and bucket seats, M Driver’s package), $9900; Live Cockpit Pro, $1100; adaptive LED headlights, $650; Shadowline package, $300; BMW M 50 Years emblems, $200


twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 183 in3, 2993 cm3

Power: 453 hp @ 6250 rpm

Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 2650 rpm


6-speed manual


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 15.0-in vented, cross-drilled disc/14.6-in vented, cross-drilled, disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

F: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y) ★

R: 285/30ZR-20 (99Y) ★


Wheelbase: 108.1 in

Length: 180.3 in

Width: 74.3 in

Height: 55.2 in

Passenger Volume, F/M/R: 52/33 ft3

Trunk Volume: 14 ft3

Curb Weight: 3745 lb


30 mph: 1.5 sec
60 mph: 3.9 sec

100 mph: 8.7 sec

1/4-Mile: 12.2 sec @ 118 mph

130 mph: 14.6 sec

150 mph: 21.5 sec

Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.6 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 7.3 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.2 sec

Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 177 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 154 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 302 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.03 g


Observed: 17 mpg

75-mph Highway Driving: 26 mpg

75-mph Highway Range: 350 mi


Combined/City/Highway: 19/16/24 mpg


Technical Editor

Mike Sutton is an editor, writer, test driver, and general car nerd who has contributed to Car and Driver‘s reverent and irreverent passion for the automobile since 2008. A native Michigander from suburban Detroit, he enjoys the outdoors and complaining about the weather, has an affection for off-road vehicles, and believes in federal protection for naturally aspirated engines.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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