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      07-17-2016, 11:27 PM   #1
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M2: fun and go with Manual, per TopGear review, great read

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http://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/m2/first-drive-0


Havenít you already driven the BMW M2?

We have driven the mighty 370bhp BMW M2 a couple of times: Out at Laguna Seca earlier this year, while Chris Harris drove it on the TV show. However, weíve not reviewed the 3.0-litre single turbo, entry-level M car with a six-speed manual gearbox in the UK.

Tenuous? OK, we just wanted an excuse to drive it again. And answer a few questions, too. Such as, M2 or M3? Manual or M DCT twin clutch? Does it work on UK roads?

Can you answer the last of those first, please?

Yes. Thatís the answer.

The M2 is great fun to drive in the UK and works very well indeed on our roads. I am going to throw a couple of caveats into that now by saying that the ride tends towards the jiggly and can occasionally pogo along if it gets out of sync with the surface. Itís not a car that glides along, shrugging bumps aside.

Sure, itíll calm itself down pretty well when you get on a motorway, but on single-laners it demands you pay attention. And thereís nothing wrong with that, because you should be. And because youíre paying attention, you notice what the car is up to, and what you notice is that itís up to good stuff. And since itís up to good stuff, you have a good time.

So to paraphrase, because the ride is jiggly, you have more fun?

Thatís a fair assessment. Weíve pointed out before that technical perfection is no guarantee of driving entertainment and that the occasional flaw or bad habit is often quite engaging.

Anyway, youíre there, youíre concentrating, youíre having to work a bit and the M2 rewards you by being entirely bombastic. Honestly, itís such a rip-roarer, that even if youíd managed to stay disconnected until you got to the first corner, you wouldnít be after it. I once wrote that the 1M was a boisterous thing and BMW has clearly carried the same elements forward into the M2. Itís really amusing to drive. Simple as that.

More so than the M3?

I think so yes. The M3, even with the new Competition Pack fitted, is a more serious car than the M2. More serious-minded, more seriously likely to catch you out, too. With potentially serious consequences. Iíve been running an M3 as my daily for the last eight months and the more time and distance I do with it, the more in love with it I fall. But others donít feel the same way, and I freely admit that it can be a bit sharp and snatchy, and will give you a proper heart-pumper of a moment if you get careless or foolish. The rear axle can get mobile with very little warning.

The M2 has a more generous spirit. It uses a lot of the same suspension componentry as the M3/M4, but the result is a more magnanimous. Neither has great brakes as standard though, so bear that in mind Ė and the M2 canít be had with optional ceramics, either.

So which would you have?

Given a straight choice, the M3, but fronting up my own money, then the M2. The M3 feels a fraction more special to drive and the engine is sharper and more eager to rev. But the M2 has the better front end turn-in and steering response. Thatís the highlight for me, actually Ė the way you turn the wheel with your wrists and feel the tyres respond by getting on their shoulders and knuckling down to work. You sense the whole car instantly hunch to the task and you know, even at modest speeds, precisely what the car is up to and how much it has in reserve.

Open the throttle mid-corner and where the M3 can become a handful, the M2ís differential has been better set-up, so itís more progressive when it starts to break away.

Is the M3 faster?

I know itís only got another 61bhp, but yes, it is faster. BMW claims thereís only a couple of tenths in it, 4.3secs for the 0-62mph sprint in the M3, plays 4.5 in the M2 (those are for the manual gearbox cars, M DCTís are 0.2secs faster), but when we figured both the 0-100mph times were 8.8secs for the M3 and 9.7 for the M2. Itís top end savagery that gives the M3 the edge.

That and weight actually. Because the 1495kg M2 is a bit of a porker when the M3 only weighs 1520kg with its extra doors. The M4 coupe? Thatís 1497kgÖ

Howís the M2ís engine?

Not as feisty or tuneful or raucous as the M3ís, but itís still a smooth straight six, aided by a single blower. Itís great to use, has to be stirred into life a bit at very low revs, but when youíre up and running and the rev counterís nudging further up you wonít find yourself wanting for response or reaction. It hits hard and fast.

So gearbox: manual or M DCT?

Well, Iíve driven both and the manual suits the car better. This is not a tech-laden, speed-focused machine, but one that wants to have a good time. The manual matches that character.

However, the shift isnít that great. The lever/throw combination is a bit long, the clutch travels too far and the shift quality isnít snappy enough Ė the transmission occasionally baulks if you try to hurry it through too fast. Itís slightly tricky to drive smoothly in traffic. Oh, and I like to heel and toe myself and in the BMW you canít stop it rev-blipping for you in any mode. You might like that, of course.

But Iíd still have it because, unlike the M3, the M2 feels like it was born to have a stick between the seats.

So itís a fun car, then?

It is, genuinely eager to please, a bit of a show-off and tremendously engaging. It looks ace, itís a good size, Iíd have it over an A45 or Audi RS3 in a heartbeat and reckon it would press the newly-turbocharged Porsche Cayman very hard.

In approach and demeanour it has more in common with the Focus RS than any of those, actually. We strapped the test gear to one of those recently too Ė 4.7secs for 0-60mph, but 11.3 to hit 100mph Ė over a second and a half slower than the M2 (although that was an M DCT version). Trouble with the Ford is its weight Ė itís 1600kg.

Anyway, enough of that for the time being, Iím just glad to be able to report that the M2 is corking good fun to drive. If youíre tempted, there arenít many options you absolutely have to add because itís well equipped as standard (are you listening PorscheÖ), but do me a favour and think twice before spending an extra £2,645 on the double clutch gearbox.
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      07-19-2016, 11:04 AM   #2
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Remember when Chris Harris placed the M3 badge over the M2?
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      07-19-2016, 12:00 PM   #3
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Great write up
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      07-19-2016, 12:03 PM   #4
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The overall impression I get is that he likes the M2 more than the M3, yet if money were no object he'd choose the M3. I did not expect him to say this. He does justify his choice, but he also mentioned numerous reasons why he thought the M2 was better, including the fun-to-drive factor. Anyhow, I still interpret this article as being strong praise for the M2.
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      07-19-2016, 12:20 PM   #5
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Having driven both on the track I can say I agree that the M3/4 is the faster cat at the track. It's far more serious but very vague. Trying to do the drifting event in the pouring rain was a handful in the M4, it's a shame we didn't get a go in the M2. All of us agreed the M2 felt as though it would have been easier with a bit less power or back.

If money was no object to me and I needed both a daily coupe and a track day toy, I'd have the M2 for the mountains and the M4 with DCT for the track.
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      07-19-2016, 12:39 PM   #6
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Makes sense. I know for me, I try to find a car that checks all the boxes. If money were no object, I too would take the M3/M4 because it's more of a complete car (performance, practical) but because I don't have a money tree, I would settle for a M2 today and not think twice.
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      07-19-2016, 12:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitoda View Post
http://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/m2/first-drive-0

it would press the newly-turbocharged Porsche Cayman very hard.
Can't wait to see the M2 compared to the 718
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      07-19-2016, 01:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBingoBalls
Makes sense. I know for me, I try to find a car that checks all the boxes. If money were no object, I too would take the M3/M4 because it's more of a complete car (performance, practical) but because I don't have a money tree, I would settle for a M2 today and not think twice.
I don't want to open a can of worms but where I am the shenanigans with the M2 availability and the proliferation of very mildly used low mileage M4s makes this pricing discussion moot and the decision that much more difficult.
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      07-19-2016, 01:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IS+1 View Post
The overall impression I get is that he likes the M2 more than the M3, yet if money were no object he'd choose the M3. I did not expect him to say this. He does justify his choice, but he also mentioned numerous reasons why he thought the M2 was better, including the fun-to-drive factor. Anyhow, I still interpret this article as being strong praise for the M2.
That's not what was said at all.

"Given a straight choice, the M3, but fronting up my own money, then the M2."

If spending my own money, I'd buy the M2. Very high praise for the M2.
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      07-19-2016, 01:40 PM   #10
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No complaints about the steering? Oh wait this isn't Car and Driver
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      07-19-2016, 01:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackholescion View Post
That's not what was said at all.

"Given a straight choice, the M3, but fronting up my own money, then the M2."

If spending my own money, I'd buy the M2. Very high praise for the M2.
I get that if he had to spend his own money, he'd get the M2.

But doesn't "given a straight choice, the M3" mean that if he did not have to spend his own money (i.e. if money were no object) he'd choose the M3? Or am I misinterpreting his comment?
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      07-19-2016, 02:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IS+1 View Post
I get that if he had to spend his own money, he'd get the M2.

But doesn't "given a straight choice, the M3" mean that if he did not have to spend his own money (i.e. if money were no object) he'd choose the M3? Or am I misinterpreting his comment?
I think the money is no object is debatable. Since he said if he ponied up his money, he'd get an M2, that means he wouldn't put up his own money for an M3. But if he had to pick one to drive on a track day, he'd choose the M3. Or something to that effect.
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      07-19-2016, 03:04 PM   #13
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      07-19-2016, 03:15 PM   #14
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Sounds pretty much on point with my own conjecture, too.
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      07-19-2016, 04:48 PM   #15
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He commented on the M2's turn-in and steering response being better, this is what I am looking for in an M car, personally. I drove an f80 M3 for the first time last week and I must say, this precise steering/chassis feel (which I loved so much from e9x/e46/e36 M3's) was just not at all present on the f80. The car felt big and heavy and just not as precise or direct as previous gens. Granted this was only a 20 minute test drive of the f80, but I can recall driving e90's recently and the precision and direct chassis/steering feel is instantly noticeable. The f80 did have enormous amounts of torque and power though, that definitely stood out

Really hoping the M2 has these steering/chassis characteristics that I love about the older M's!
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      07-19-2016, 04:55 PM   #16
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M2 vs M3

BMW marketing and engineering dept's have done a great job of making the M2 fall just enough short of M3 to keep enthusiasts pulling their hair out looking seriously at both vehicles. As a very happy 1M driver, I currently have all the car I want, and would only replace it for a better, lighter M2 upgrade, i.e. M2 CSL if it ever comes to market
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      07-19-2016, 05:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitoda View Post
Iíve been running an M3 as my daily for the last eight months ... and I freely admit that it can be a bit sharp and snatchy, and will give you a proper heart-pumper of a moment if you get careless or foolish. The rear axle can get mobile with very little warning.
Especially at those Cars & Coffee events.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitoda View Post
But the M2 has the better front end turn-in and steering response. Thatís the highlight for me, actually Ė the way you turn the wheel with your wrists and feel the tyres respond by getting on their shoulders and knuckling down to work. You sense the whole car instantly hunch to the task and you know, even at modest speeds, precisely what the car is up to and how much it has in reserve.
BOOM.
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      07-19-2016, 05:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinco View Post
He commented on the M2's turn-in and steering response being better, this is what I am looking for in an M car, personally. I drove an f80 M3 for the first time last week and I must say, this precise steering/chassis feel (which I loved so much from e9x/e46/e36 M3's) was just not at all present on the f80. The car felt big and heavy and just not as precise or direct as previous gens. Granted this was only a 20 minute test drive of the f80, but I can recall driving e90's recently and the precision and direct chassis/steering feel is instantly noticeable. The f80 did have enormous amounts of torque and power though, that definitely stood out

Really hoping the M2 has these steering/chassis characteristics that I love about the older M's!
F80 weighs less than the E90, I think all this big and heavy talk is mostly in people's heads after reading magazine reviews and forum posts. Yes the car is bigger dimension ally but it's not the difference between a 2 series and a 7 series.
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      07-19-2016, 05:17 PM   #19
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Money no object, M2. It is not an object for me, and that's what I want. The M3/4 feels more like a muscle car to me, and the M2 feels more like M3s used to feel, especially the E36. But this is yet another good review in any event. Now, if BMW could make a few more, that would be great.
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      07-19-2016, 05:20 PM   #20
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This color looks great on the M4!
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      07-19-2016, 06:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmosMpower View Post
F80 weighs less than the E90, I think all this big and heavy talk is mostly in people's heads after reading magazine reviews and forum posts. Yes the car is bigger dimension ally but it's not the difference between a 2 series and a 7 series.
Right, I know the F80 is lighter than an e90, that's why I said it "felt" heavier. I think that is just because of the chassis/steering feel in the F80 (or lack there of). The e90 feels nimble and responsive, gives you the impression it is lighter in weight.

This was just my personal experience driving both cars in recent weeks.
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      07-19-2016, 09:42 PM   #22
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But M2 with am S2 turbo could be >> M3?!
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