We had good reason to praise first the 1M and then the M240i: one was a back-to-basics rear-drive tearaway, the other a crisp and clever modern coupé.

But in both cases there was good reason to temper the adulation. The 1M could be a little numb to steer and quite uncompromising in its spring rates, while the M240i, on adaptive dampers, never really threatened to settle into the kind of groove that would have marked it out as a plausible threat to the all-conquering Cayman.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Second gear is where M2 is most inclined to go sideways on a track. There’s enough power to provoke and, at these speeds, easily hold a slide

The M2, as we expected, is dramatically closer to the finished article. For a start, lessons learned from the 1M have clearly been applied.

The passive suspension fitted to its successor is cannily capable of offering a benign level of ride comfort on British roads, despite the obvious level of seriousness still being conveyed by the chassis.

Certainly, the M2 is stiff in a way that ought to feel unfamiliar to an M240i driver, not only in the obvious buttressing of its body control but also in the unprocessed way it responds to the road.

Unlike its cheaper sibling, the out-and-out M car is adept at hunkering down onto a B-road on its obviously broader footprint, reimbursing driver input not just with the feeling of remarkable directional stability but also the limber enthusiasm of a legitimate sports car, and it manages this despite still featuring imperfect steering.

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The Servotronic system is still better at bulked-up positivity than disclosure of the contact patch status, but the M2 makes up for this with the clarity of information transmitted through the seatbacks.

There’s a wonderfully unapologetic fierceness to pushing on. Like the 1M, the car’s size and prickly, ever-present power encourage fast progress, as does the noise and the chassis’ adhesiveness.

In this respect, the steroidal rear axle does a better job of containing the engine’s torque than its forerunner’s did, although it’s worth pointing out that BMW’s stability control tuning is less convincing than Porsche’s.

The telltale light may flash a heck of a lot less than it did in the 1M, but the system is still guilty of intervening a little heavy-handedly – even in its so-called Dynamic mode.

Even with this caveat, the M2 remains a terrific thing to drive, not incapable of contentment while commuting (especially with the DCT optioned) and yet atavistically adept at the sinewy hurly burly of a B-road thrash. A proper M car, then. 

Recently, most of what you would worry about on a circuit in a BMW M car is managing the slip, and therefore the wear rate, of its rear tyres. But on our dry handling circuit at MIRA, the M2 wasn’t like that.

There’s ample torque to push the tail wide and hold it there, of course, particularly in slower corners, but in most places the M2 had a level of incisiveness, traction and stability that we really hadn’t anticipated.

It is capable of delivering impressive levels of lateral acceleration and will, in a steady state, push on at the front first unless you’ve managed the nose’s weight on the way into a corner. Do so and it’ll corner neutrally, or ease into oversteer just as you like.

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