MUNICH, Germany – Laying to rest years of speculation citing it as a possible addition to its burgeoning M performance-car lineup, BMW unveils the M2 compact coupe.
The automaker releases photos of the M2 ahead of its public debut at the North American International Auto Show in January.
The M2 enters BMW’s M range as an indirect successor to the short lived 1-Series M Coupe, which was produced in limited numbers between 2010 and 2011. When it goes on sale in North America in April, the M2 will be priced below the larger and more powerful M3, until now the entry point to the German automaker’s performance sub-brand.
Final pricing is yet to be announced, though BMW North America officials indicate the new model will be offered at about $51,000 when sales begin in early 2016.
Prominent among the competition likely to be faced by the new M-car is the $48,500 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic. Unlike its highly rated all-wheel-drive compact rival, the M2 uses a rear-wheel-drive layout that upholds a rich tradition for coupe models at BMW’s M division.
The M2 is visually differentiated from 2-Series coupe models by exterior design changes that include a heavily structured front bumper which uses pronounced winglets to channel air to large engine-cooling ducts.
Further changes include fenders that extend out an added 2.2 ins. (56 mm) at the front and a significant 3.1 ins. (79 mm) at the rear from those of the standard 2-Series coupe; a new chrome highlight and swage line housing the repeater lights ahead of the doors; wider sills; a small trunk-lid spoiler; and a prominent rear bumper housing with an integral diffuser housing BMW’s M-division’s signature quad-exhaust treatment.
Together the exterior design changes reduce aerodynamic drag up to 5%, as well as a 35% reduction in lift over the standard 2-Series coupe.
The M2 clearly is the smallest of all current M-division models. With a length of 175.9 ins. (4,468 mm), width of 73 ins. (1,854 mm) and height of 65.5 ins. (1,663 mm), it stands 8 ins. (203 mm) shorter, 0.8 ins. (20 mm) narrower and 0.4 ins. (10 mm) lower than the M3. Its wheelbase is 4.6 ins. (117 mm) shorter than that of the M3 at 106 ins. (2,692 mm).
N55 Turbo-6 Gets Serious Retooling
At the heart of the new M-car is a heavily modified version of BMW’s 6-year-old turbocharged 3.0L inline 6-cyl. N55 direct-injection gasoline engine, used in an earlier evolutionary form by the 1-Series M coupe.
The longitudinally mounted unit, already replaced by the more contemporary B58 engine in other recently launched BMW models, has been extensively re-engineered in a bid to provide it with the sort of performance, response and aural character expected of an M-car powerplant.
Unlike the more complex S55 designated engine found in the 4-door M3 and sportier 2-door M4 sibling, which uses two separate turbochargers, the N55 unit relies on a single turbocharger with a twin-scroll process to bolster induction.
Despite this variance, BMW reveals the M2 engine adopts the same pistons, crankshaft bearing shells, elements of its exhaust system, variable-valve control and variable-camshaft-control systems as the M3 mill.
The result is a peak power figure of 365 hp at 6,500 rpm, endowing the M2 with 60 hp less than the M3 but 30 hp more than the old 1-series M Coupe. In combination with a claimed curb weight of 3,296 lbs. (1,495 kg), the M2’s weight-to-power ratio is 9.03 lbs. (4.1 kg) per hp.
BMW is keen to talk up the torque qualities of the new N55 engine, but its nominal 343 lb.-ft. (465 Nm) is 62 lb.-ft. (84 Nm) less than that provided by the M3 and the same as that of the 1-series M Coupe. However, an overboost function, activated during kickdown, raises its torque reserves to 569 lb.-ft. (771 Nm) between 1,450 and 4,750 rpm.
Standard on the M2 is a 6-speed manual transmission featuring a throttle blip function. Buyers also can specify an optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission offering the choice of manual and automatic modes, three distinct driving modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport +), as launch control and a so-called Smoky Burnout function.
As on all RWD M-division models, an electronic limited-slip M-differential offering a fully variable locking effect also comes as standard.
When fitted with the standard manual gearbox, BMW says the M2 accelerates from 0-62 mph (100 km) in 4.5 seconds. A lower first-gear ratio and effectiveness of the DCT’s launch-control feature helps shave 0.2 seconds off this time, reducing it to 4.3 seconds despite adding 55 lb. (25 kg) to the curb weight.
By comparison, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, whose turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. gasoline engine makes 355 hp and 332 lb.-ft. (450 Nm) of torque, is claimed to accelerate to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds.
The nominal top speed of the M2 is limited to 155 mph (250 km/h). However, buyers can specify an optional driver’s package, which includes altered engine-management software yielding top-speed potential of 168 mph (270 km/h).
Inside, the M2 carries on the tradition of subtle sportiness evident in all recent BMW M division offerings. Changes include the adoption of unique instrument graphics; a leather-bound M-sport steering wheel (with integral paddles on models equipped with the DCT gearbox); sport seats in black leather with adjustable side bolsters, aluminum footrest and a kneepad on the center console for the driver.