Words & Pictures: Kevin C. Limjoco
We may have had less paved public roads in the archipelago back in the 80’s but there was also a heck of a lot less traffic congestion too. So for a few young car enthusiasts able to drive during the period it will forever be fondly remembered as our generation’s carefree road adventure glory days. Armed with very jubilant dance music from the Reyes’ Kudos Disco on a novel ceramic Sony Super Metal Master 90 Cassette tape, my buddy Dennis Chan and I took his red 123 bhp BMW E21 320i the furthest it ever had traveled outside of the metropolis. I was delivering my custom Honda CB400 twin motorcycle to a buyer in Batangas City and Dennis was only gung-ho to support the effort, which would also mean accepting the challenge of keeping up with a screaming motorbike on late 80’s open roads! As I rode the wheels off my old black Honda standard to keep both my and Dennis’ adrenaline up, I could see him aggressively running through the limits of each of only 4 manual gears through my side mirrors. That single day on my black stallion with Dennis and his BMW will always be one of my personal best driving/riding experiences ever even if the trip back to Manila with me at the wheel of the 1st generation 3-series was less manic.
I tried to replicate that sense of pure joy in the US a few short years later in a friend’s race-prepped 2002tii over several hundred miles; the dynamic elements were present, it was a much faster more focused car despite being older than the E21 320i, but it did not have the matching circumstances or emotions. It was a teaching moment though. More on this later.
Which brings us to the present with BMW’s latest driving sensation, the all-new 2M Coupé! Seeing that same mischievous yet subtle grin on Dennis’ face almost 30 years since our Batangas motorcycle drop on our favored bright sun-lit California backroads brought back the memories. He and I took turns testing the M2 as we explored what it could do compared to the 235iM and the fabulous discontinued 1-series M Coupé. In the process the M2 was so good that we ended up sizing up the car against the entire gauntlet of M-cars! Trust me, you can’t help it. I honestly believe that it is the new M2 that defines the original mantra of the BMW M-division without taking away from the rest of the incredible range. It may not be the fastest, not the most opulent, not the most full-featured, and not even the most dynamic, but the feeling, the sensation, the sheer joy of driving at its most basic level is what the M2 is about with the bonus of also being the most affordable in the M family of vehicles.
Until the new M2, the BMW M3 (E30) carried that torch of having it all at the most attainable price. The BMW-engineer project car, the 1-Series M Coupé came real close with its heavy parts bin usage and pronounced blistered wheel flares, but it had its compromises. It was twitchy at the limit, the brakes would give up the ghost too soon, and all the extra interior treatments could not disguise its essentially drab origins. As a thrilling performance car, the 1M was very capable to be sure, but in order to maximize its abilities the pilot required genuine experience and bravado on a closed circuit. It was also a touch too small inside and not too forgiving to drive as a daily. In direct comparison the M2 is naturally very stable and it can be enjoyed by less experienced drivers on a daily basis with real world virtues without dynamic compromises. The full “M” M2 is also dynamically superior to the “M-Participating”1M, in all fronts. It is quicker, faster, more fuel efficient, more comfortable, more spacious, better handling, more full featured, and brakes exponentially better as well. The larger M2 does have the muscular wheel flares on all corners similar to the 1M but they’re more refined and functional. Against the M4? Even if the M4 is essentially a great high performance car, it has gained too much weight and size for a heck of a lot more money too.
Now is the M2 worth the extra money over the 235iM that it is based on? Without question, yes. More than just the extra power, it is the overall packaging combined with the emotions that it creates. I love all the new toys too that come with the M2 from the GoPro and the M Lap timer, the usual M tools and the indispensable Harman/Kardon audio system.
Like most M2’s featured worldwide, our test unit came in Long Beach Blue Metallic. It may not have the 425 bhp / 406 lb ft power from the twin turbos from the M4 along with the blistering 7300 rpm redline, but it does share the pistons and crank bearings mated to a very overachieving single turbo that is carrying a lot less weight and further compensates with a transient overboost that when engaged makes the M2 every bit as fast as the M4. To be honest the M2 drove as quick as a manual M4 but it felt faster, more connected to the driver, and more alive. The quad exhaust combined with the dutiful synthetic audio actually complimented the aural experience much like how I felt with the i8 “orchestra”, BMW has done a great job with this car.
Back to what I was talking about earlier in the story, many cars sold now are plenty fast, especially the rising EV/Hybrids, but what is becoming more important to drivers and car enthusiasts again is how special cars make people feel, and more importantly, what great memories can be created in the symbiotic relationship between man and machine. With the all-new BMW M2 you have the perfect tool to engage in creating these experiences and epic stories that will last longer than man and machine combined.
Specification – 2016 BMW M2 Coupé
Location: Front, Longitudinal
Displacement: 2978 cc
Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum
Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Valvetronic, Bi-VANOS, Intercooled BorgWarner B03 Turbo, Maximum Boost 14.5 psi
Fuel Injection: Direct Fuel Injection
Max power: 365 bhp @ 6500 rpm
Max torque: 343 lb ft @ 1400-5560 rpm (+26 lb ft @ 1450-4750 rpm Overboost)
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual, Rear Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled Active M-LSD (Limited Slip Differential)
Drag Coefficient: .35 cd
Front suspension: Independent aluminum MacPherson strut with 1 diagonal/1 lateral link, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Independent aluminum multi-link (2 diagonal links/2 lateral links, toe-control link per side), coil springs, stabilizer bar
Fuel Capacity: 52 liters (13.7 gallons)
L x W x H: 4468 mm x 1854 mm x 1410 mm
Wheelbase: 2693 mm
Brakes: Front 15” (380 mm) ventilated/cross-drilled discs with 4-piston aluminum fixed calipers / Rear 14.6” (370 mm) vented/cross-drilled discs with 2-piston aluminum floating calipers, M-Compound Pads, ABS, DBC, CBC, DSC/DTC Traction & Stability Controls, & Brake Energy Recuperation system.
Wheels: 9J x 19” Front & 10J x 19” Rear Forged Aluminum Alloy Model 437M
Tires: P245/35R19 93Y Front & P265/35R19 98Y Rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Weight: (kerb) 1552 kg. (3415 lbs.)
Weight Distribution: 51.7% Front : 48.3% Rear
Quarter Mile: 12.5 seconds @ 184 km/h (115 mph)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 4.4 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 264 km/h (165 mph) Governed
112 km/h-0: 154 feet
Lateral Acceleration: .99g
Fuel Mileage: 18 mpg City / 26 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 54,495.00
C! RATING 10/10
+Absolutely brilliant driver’s car, has it all, perfect balance, more enjoyable on a regular basis compared to the M4, Nanny-controls can be 100% defeated.
-As engaging as the manual transmission is, I would recommend getting the 7-speed DCT transmission for absolute performance.