BMW’s M2 is a chilli padi of a coupe

The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.
The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.
The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.
The BMW M2 is both fast and easy to drive.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

BMW's smallest M car is a serious racer and accommodating commute rolled into one

Woo-hoo! That's my 27-year-old self whooping above the glorious din of the BMW M2's straight-six engine. With windows down and right elbow out.

Or so I imagine. But having aged and mellowed for some 30 years, whooping is no longer on the agenda. Not openly, anyway. And certainly not with the windows down.

It is a good thing, too, that BMW had not made anything close to the M2 back then. Otherwise, the pair of us would have made a royal ruckus in and out of town.

Even now, the minute Munich missile brings on an irrepressible grin when I gun its throttle and fly out onto the nearest ramp to an expressway.

This chilli padi of a coupe is both blindingly quick and seriously fast - which makes it immensely enjoyable to drive in a wide range of conditions.

  • SPECS/BMW M2

    Price: From $276,800 with COE

    Engine: 2,979cc 24-valve inline-6 turbocharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with manual select

    Power: 370bhp at 6,500rpm

    Torque: 465Nm at 1,400 to 5,560rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.3 seconds

    Top speed: 250kmh (governed)

    Fuel consumption: 7.9 litres/100km

    Agent: Munich Automobiles

It is as hardcore as the 1M Coupe it replaces, but more driveable, thanks largely to a remarkably balanced chassis and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that is quicker than the 1M's six-speed manual could ever be.

Should you be in a mood to do your own gear changes, big paddles do the honours with lightning speed and certainty.

The M2 rides on very firm springs, but their damping action is not harsh. That makes the car easy to live with daily.

Its steering is wonderfully precise and quick without being twitchy in the least. The car being compact and grounded helps.

The M2 is slightly longer than the 1M tip to tip. But it is also noticeably wider and a tad lower. The recipe produces sharper turn-in's, confident cornering and an uncommon degree of connection to the road.

There is some compromise on ride, but as mentioned, the M2 is not uncomfortable.

The car has loads more power than the 1M. Its familiar 3-litre straight-six engine churns out 370bhp and 465Nm of torque from 1,400, allowing the Bavarian bazooka to hit the century mark in 4.3 seconds. That is 0.6 second quicker than the 1M.

The beauty lies in that it delivers its lethal acceleration in an almost civil fashion. You see the speedometer needle going clockwise almost as fast as the tachometer's, and the lane markings going past you in a blur.

But you do not turn a whiter shade of pale, and you are not strangling the steering wheel. For a car with such a maniacal performance, that is something special.

And precisely because you are not struggling to keep things on an even keel all the time, you can enjoy what this sports car has to offer.

Accompanying its seemingly unending wave of acceleration is a blaring baritone which is evident from 1,500rpm. But in a tunnel at 4,500rpm, it will turn a jaded driver into a wide-eyed teenager on his first day behind the wheel.

It is a beautiful sound (if a tad constricted in the mid-range), and it seems more immediate and enveloping than in all the other M cars.

In fact, it would not be exaggeration to say that the M2 is the best M car BMW has built to date.

It offers unadulterated driving pleasure in an accessible package. And although it does not come with the popular M button that stores a driver's preferred dynamic settings, the car has what it calls M Dynamic Mode (MDM). When activated, it allows wheel slip and controlled drifts.

My 27-year-old self would try this on public roads. Me, now? Well, let's just say there is only so much fun I can handle in a week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Yummy M2'. Print Edition | Subscribe