Ever since BMW decided to introduce models below the 3-Series and send them to the M School of Performance, the world of compact sports cars has not been quite the same. Where once the GTIs and the Type Rs were peacefully grazing in the fast lanes of highways everywhere, wild Bavarian motor cars suddenly appeared to mix up the high-speed party in spectacular fashion. The latest autobahnschreck from Munich comes in the shape of the M2 Competition, a pint-sized powerhouse sporting a brand-new fire-breathing heart and genuine racing DNA.
At 4.46m in length and 1.85m in width, the M2 Competition just about gets away with being called a compact car, but there is nothing compact about the engine that resides under the sculpted hood of this brawny-looking coupe. Based on the block found in the M3 and the M4, the new M2’s twin-turbo six-cylinder engine sends 410hp and 550Nm to the 265mm-wide rear tires courtesy of BMW’s M TwinPower Turbo technology, a system that uses two rapid-response mono-scroll turbochargers, variable valve control, camshaft timing, and other electronic trickery to ensure power is delivered in the most impressive way possible.
Step on the right pedal with vigor and this M2 will slingshot itself from zero to 100km/h in as little as 4.2 seconds, with the top speed standing at 250km/h for standard cars and 280km/h for vehicles fitted with the M Driver’s Package. The purists among rear-wheel-drive connoisseurs will welcome the fact that a six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, while a seven-speed M double-clutch transmission is available as an option.
Carrying the term “Competition” in its name raises some serious expectations when it comes to using the little M as a track weapon, and BMW has made sure that the car will stand up to the demands of circuit use by adding plenty of features developed on the back of the brand’s motorsport experience. For starters, this baby has been fitted with an additional oil sump cover and other modifications that guarantee the engine will get supplied with enough lubricant long after the driver’s face has already been pulled off by high g-forces experienced during cornering. Cooling requirements have also been addressed with the addition of a race-tested cooling system, changes to the airflow, and a transmission oil cooler for cars fitted with the M DCT.
Massive M Sport brakes that feature 400mm discs with six-piston fixed calipers at the front and 380mm discs with four-piston fixed calipers at the back have been fitted so that rapid deceleration isn’t a problem when the time comes to throw an anchor, while the recalibrated dynamic stability control and the Active M Differential (an electronically controlled multiplate limited-slip diff wonderbox) mean that anyone can let out his inner Nick Heidfeld at the press of a button. A dual-exhaust system with two electrically controlled flaps and four tailpipes can either make the M2 as quiet as a church mouse to keep the neighbors happy, or unleash the trumpets of Jericho when you put your foot down.
Inside, passengers are greeted by M Sport bucket-style seats that feature an illuminated M2 logo in the backrest and black leather upholstery with either blue or orange design accents. Seatbelts with stitched-in M stripes and a sill plate imprinted with the M2 Competition logo will always remind you what car you’re sitting in, with a red start/stop button glaring temptingly at any soul brave enough to push it. An array of driver-assistance and safety systems are also onboard to give this tarmac missile enough of a soft side for everyday use, with different driving modes accessible via selector switches on the center console or through the two M buttons on the steering wheel.