REVIEW | 2019 BMW M2 Competition earns its stripes
Competition package makes BMW’s M2 even more of a driver’s car
The BMW M2 has earned its stripes as a real M car despite its compact size and junior status in the ranks.
With its slick handling and driver-pleasing driving dynamics it’s endeared itself to owners who seek out racetracks and twisty mountain passes to ply their wheelsmanship. Now, just like with its bigger brothers the M4 and M5, the junior M car has become available with a Competition package for enthusiast drivers searching for that little extra.
The 3.0l straight six turbo engine has been perked up from 272kW to 302kW and torque has been hiked from 500 to 550Nm. That makes this ’lil Beemer almost tickle the tailpipes of the more senior M4, with its 317kW/550Nm.
The M2 Competition replaces the standard M2, and is offered in dual-clutch automatic (M DCT) and six-speed manual guises, with claimed 0-100km/h figures quoted at 4.2 seconds for the auto and 4.4 seconds for the manual.
Top speed is the usual governed 250km/h but owners can raise this to 280km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package.
Athletic plumage in the M2 Competition includes a front skirt and larger kidney grille in high-gloss black, an exclusive Hockenheim Silver colour, forged alloy 19-inch wheels and double-arm exterior mirrors.
Inner M-ness is laid on liberally with sports seats, plenty of carbon fibre and M2 Competition badges on the door sills.
The package also adds an upgraded cooling system with increased air flow, and to improve rigidity and steering precision a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut has been placed across the engine bay. The electrochemical power steering, the Active M Differential and stability control system are also tweaked to handle the extra power.
The base price for the M2 Competition is R1,143,755 which includes a one-day High Performance Driving Experience course, but there are a raft of options available. Our test vehicle was decked out with R173,750 worth of extras, including M Sport brakes with grey calipers, electrically adjustable front seats, glass sunroof, rear-view camera and the abovementioned M Driver’s Package, to mention a few.
Real “purists” may prefer the manual, but I found the seven-speed automatic equal to the rest of the adrenaline-chasing deal with its rapid-fire gearshifts. The shift paddles also turn with the steering wheel, instead of being fixed in place like some cars, meaning manual gear changes don’t only have to be made when the wheels are turned straight.
Throttle, stability control and gearshift sensitivity can be adjusted from merely fast (the preferred option for urban commuting) to hair-trigger reactive for the mountain passes and racetracks. So too the steering, which in its sportiest mode loads up nicely and calls for some arm muscle to give this car the tactile feedback expected of a proper sports machine.
In the sportier modes, electronic flaps in the dual exhaust system also open up to voice a gruffer sound.
The configurations can be mixed and matched, and stored for quick-access using the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel. But even in its mildest modes this M2, unlike the new M5 which is an accomplished dual-purpose commuter and fire-spitter, is a car that prefers the hell-raising side of life.
Its uber-firm suspension doesn’t make for a smooth ride over suburbia’s imperfect roads, and bumps make the M2 jolt like a rodeo horse. Not comfy. This car prefers unwrinkled tar, preferably with plenty of direction changes.
The M2 Competition comes alive when set loose around a handling circuit. It’s vociferously grippy, the hard suspension defies body roll, and the powerful brakes tolerate a lot of punishment without fading.
BMW M2 Competition M DCT
WE LIKE: Performance, handling, style
WE DISLIKE: Firm ride, not as quick as an RS3
VERDICT: A true M car, just smaller
This car hits a sweet spot in terms of power; it’s exciting without being obscenely fast, and you can bully the throttle with the confidence that the tail won’t suddenly snap out and spit you into the roadside scenery. It’s a relatively forgiving machine that, while requiring the necessary respect, you can still drive by the scruff of the neck. The tail-out action in this rear-wheel-drive car is playful but not twitchy.
Heavy-footedness can quickly drain your fuel budget to the tune of more than 13l /100km, but with some driver restraint our test car achieved a relatively decent 10.7l on the combined town/freeway cycle.
With its cramped rear seating space, particularly the limited headroom, the M2 Competition is a relatively selfish indulgence that makes little pretense at family-car practicality. But at a R181,000 saving over the larger BMW M4, this junior M car might make good financial sense for driving enthusiasts who don’t plan to take too many people along for the ride.
The M2 Competition is bested by the Audi RS3 Sportback in terms of performance (0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds) and cabin space, but Audi has temporarily halted imports of the RS3 due to production constraints in Germany. Lucky for BMW.
That said, the Bavarian firm is getting ready to introduce an even more hardcore CS version of the M2.
Type: Six-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: Seven-speed M DCT automatic
Type: Rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 250km/h (280km/h with optional M Driver’s package) 0-100km/h: 4.2 seconds (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 9.1l/100km/100km (claimed); 10.7l/100km (as tested)
Active M Differential, automatic start/stop function, rain sensor, automatic headlight control, climate control, cruise control, M Sport seats, electric windows, electric mirrors, adaptive LED headlights, ABS brakes, stability control, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB, navigation with real-time traffic information, iDrive control, height- and reach-adjustable steering, 265/35 ZR 19 tyres (rear), 245/35 ZR 19 tyres (front)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited mileage
Maintenance plan: Five-year 100,000km Motorplan
Lease*: R24,396 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
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