Love to hate me: Driving the BMW G87 M2

Now into its third generation (if you count the 1M, as you rightly should), the G87 is BMW’s latest take on its most accessible and compact full-fat M car. An M car that’s often considered by many to be one of the most enjoyable to drive. So much so, Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman even called this car’s predecessor, the best BMW M car in 12 years. And with a string of highly acclaimed reviews, including one where it outright won EVO magazine’s 2020 Car of the Year after taking on the likes of the GR Yaris, the Mclaren 765LT, a Ferrari F8 Tributo, a pair of Porsches, the Cayman GTS 4.0 and the 911 Turbo S, and also, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo.

To say that this latest M2 has some really big shoes to fill is probably quite an understatement and I’m going to straight up say it now, I absolutely… hate it. Let’s get started.

Too busy to read everything? Here are the 5 key takeaways for the BMW G87 M2

  1. Now into its third generation, (including the 1M), the new G87 M2 is BMW’s latest take on its most accessible and compact full-fat M car.

  2. While it might have been developed on the same platform and powertrain as the M3 and M4, the reduction in wheelbase, balance and suspension settings give the M2 its own unique driving dynamics and characteristics.

  3. The M2 is quite possibly the last BMW M car that will be offered with a traditional manual transmission as well as one of the last M cars to be equipped with a pure internal combustion engine.

  4. The M2’s S58 pumps out 453ho and 550Nm or torque, enough to propel it to 100km/h in an official 4.1 seconds (and unofficial 3.9 seconds).

  5. While it might be a real joy to drive, this joy comes at a premium because even though the M2 is the most accessible of all the M Cars, it still commands a considerable price tag of S$497,888 (as of writing).

Essentially a short-wheel base M3 or M4, the new shares its platform with those of its bigger siblings, down to their identical track width and suspension architecture and built around their punchy, smooth S58 turbocharged straight-six that the Bavarians say churns out 453 horses and 550 Nm of torques. However, as tradition goes, BMW has always been somewhat modest with their quoted figures, and true to form, the moment our test car digs into the tarmac with our foot firmly planted into the floor, that modesty seems to persist.

With 110mm sawn off the M4’s wheelbase, the new M2 sits with a bulldog-like stance, showcasing aesthetics that lend it a stockier and more purposeful appearance. Further accentuated by its large E30-esque almost box-like flares, short overhangs, redesigned front end and prominent power bulge. However, despite the 19 and 20-inch wheels delivering performance, their appearance is not the most appealing; they seem somewhat sunken under the massively flared arches, a visual effect amplified by their black finish.

That being said, while the latest M2 might not embody the traditional aesthetic charm of its predecessor, or achieve the visual balance seen in the current M240i (especially in Thundernight metallic), the new M2 undeniably captures attention with its bolder visual presence that projects a significantly more aggressive and modern attitude. Despite marginal increases in length (119mm) and width (16mm), its ability to give the impression of being a larger vehicle further underscores the impactful nature of its design. A design that just like every other new BMW today, truly comes to life in three dimensions, far surpassing any two-dimensional representation.

Speaking of coming to life, the aggressive attitude of the M2 is echoed by its pure ICE-beating heart that awakens from its cold slumber with a deep, pulsating growl, gradually smoothing out as you observe the redline ascending through the rev range, providing you with an eventual 7,200 revolutions to explore.

Getting up there in the rev range doesn’t take very long however with 550Nm of juice coming in between 2,650rpm through to 5,870. With our M2’s surge of power seamlessly harnessed by its ZF 8-speed automatic and channelled out via an electronically controlled limited-slip diff, 100km/h comes up in a manufacturer-quoted 4.1 seconds. However, independent tests have recorded times as low as 3.9. Suffice it to say, progress in the M2 can be rather rapid and at times, bordering on frenetic with its highly vocal active set of pipes.

While inheriting the M4’s chassis might have resulted in a weight penalty for the new M2, it does also gain the larger car’s stability. In response to the shortened wheelbase and difference in weight distribution compared to its larger siblings, the suspension setup on the M2 has been tweaked with stiffer springs up front, while those at the rear have been made softer.

While not quite as on its toes as the previous generation, the G87 maintains impressive nimbleness. Its sharp, direct (but slightly numb) steering facilitates swift directional changes, and surprisingly, there’s little compromise to its sure-footedness despite the reduced wheelbase. The chassis also effectively communicates changes to its composure, allowing for quick steering or throttle adjustments.

As you can imagine, piloting this M2 becomes an exercise in delicate restraint as the S58 constantly teases you to cast aside inhibitions and plant your foot firmly on the accelerator. For those fleeting moments when temptation overcomes your sensibilities, the M2 responds, squatting its rear end and digging its rubber into the ground, spreading its wave of torque through cog after cog. In 2.9 seconds you’ve hit 80km/h, then 100, then 160, then 200. Charging ahead relentlessly until climaxing at 250km/h where electronic limits end our party of speed, and, allowing the sensibilities we left far behind to come kicking back in.

Slide yourself into a series of undulating curves, and driving transforms into a dance – a seamless sequence of back-and-forths. The M2 responds to your inputs with eagerness, providing feedback through its stiffened chassis. Directional changes come hard and fast and even with stability and traction controls fully active, the M2 still allows for minute moments of playful sideways slip before smoothly pulling you out.

Oh, what a drive. Oh, what a rush!

Indulging in overt displays of passionate driving does come with a drawback, though. The M2 has a penchant for getting quite thirsty, rapidly depleting its 52-litre fuel tank and necessitating frequent trips to the premium pumps.

With our exuberance dialled back and lustful yearning for “enthusiastic driving” firmly shackled back into place, the M2 can easily settle into normalcy with its Adaptive M Suspension allowing for a slightly more pliant and bearable ride. There’s even some proper luggage space in the boot!

And there you have it—the new BMW M2, a car I was incredibly reluctant to part with. While it may miss some of the delicacy and raw edge of its predecessor, it compensates with a robust chassis that not only exhibits exceptional high-speed competency but also delights in playfully letting its tail loose. Coupled to a hooligan of a powerplant that consistently teases to be unleashed. The new M2 is an emotional riot and a fitting successor to one of BMW’s best.

So why do I hate it? Because at half a million Singapore dollars (S$497,888 as of writing), chances are, I will never get to own one locally and for that, I am incredibly sore.

If the base M2 is this addictive, I can only imagine how much more of a rush a CS or Competition spec will be. I suspect I will detest them.

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