It’s easy to forget now, but the 1M was the first M car (leaving aside SUVs) to feature a turbocharged engine.

Unsurprisingly, then, our road test of the M2’s forerunner used the contemporary M3’s epic naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 as a point of comparison.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The M2’s size and prickly, ever-present power encourages fast progress

How times have changed: the E92 is a distant memory, its place taken by a continually evolving line-up of codenames based around the same all-aluminium straight six block.

The M2’s N55 lump (as distinct from both the N55HP and S55 used in the M240i and M3/M4 respectively) conforms to our expectations but, more important, earns a fair amount of kudos simply on the basis of it not shrinking any further.

The four-cylinder units of the TTS and 718, in line and flat respectively, are both first-rate turbocharged motors, but neither has the full-bodied presence of BMW’s charismatic 3.0-litre powerplant.

Its increased output and the snappier ratios of the optional dual-clutch auotmatic ’box help to qualify the M2 as palpably rapid from a standing start.

Two up and aided by a needlessly fiddly launch control system, the car hit 60mph from rest in 4.4sec and arrived at 100mph a second quicker than the manual 1M managed in similar conditions.

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The manner of its performance is familiar. There is some lag, but never nearly enough to aggravate; throttle response is generally exemplary, as is the engine’s ability to rev as if uninhibited by a turbocharger. Only in extremis – that is, in the region beyond 6500rpm – does it very gently taper its efforts, but even this does nothing to limit the idea that the M2 continues to bristle with accessible, thick-set intensity.

This was common to the M240i and 1M, too, but it deepens here appreciably; the M2 proved nearly half a second quicker from 30-70mph than its forebear and more than two seconds faster than its M Performance stablemate.

Still, it’s the oily symphony of BMW’s still very mechanical straight six that recommends the M2 over its rivals’ more mundane, two-dimensional blather. Its inexhaustible tractability means it fits the effortlessness of an automatic ’box better, too. That, in turn, means we’d narrowly opt for the DCT over the springy default manual, despite the latter occasionally befitting the car’s pugnacious character. 

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