BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

The new Competition version of the M2 rights almost all of the wrongs of the car it replaces
BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

It promised so much, didn’t it? M Division clout in a small yet muscular package. An antidote to the oh-so spikey M4. A successor to the much-loved 1M.

But sadly, the M2 just didn’t work out like that. There’s plenty to like about the baby M, of course. It’s playful and accessible, while still demanding far more of the squishy, fleshy bit behind the steering wheel than something like an Audi RS3. It looked fantastic too, and I always dug the exhaust note, despite BMW’s misguided attempts to enhance it electronically in the cabin.

The problem has always been the engine. The fact that it’s not a proper S-designated M engine doesn’t help. The 1M got away with the same trick because BMW made the car’s N54 lump - the twin-turbo predecessor to M2’s single, twin-scroll turbo N55 - hilariously boosty. But the M2 engine? It’s always lacked drama, with its inadequacy highlighted further when BMW rolled out the punchy M240i not long after the M2’s launch.

BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

You’d think, then, that I might have reacted with delirious joy at the birth of the M4-engined M2 Competition. And you’d be right. Sort of. The only problem being that we’ve already had the promise of the ideal real-world M car get dashed before, so what if this new one is destined to be another missed opportunity like the standard M2?

With the Comp’s Sport mode engaged and my first taste of wide-open throttle experienced, such fears were shattered, however. God, it’s a fierce thing. Finally, we have the epic mid-range thrust the old M2 - which this car replaces outright - was missing. And no longer does it peter out at high revs - you can bang that 3.0-litre straight-six around to the redline without regret.

BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

Power is now at 404bhp, up from 364bhp, while the 404lb ft figure represents a 35lb ft increase. 0-62mph now takes 4.2 seconds, a drop of 0.2sec. Doesn’t sound like much on paper, but the character of the engine is radically different.

It also sounds very different, but it’s quite a harsh, angry noise at high engine speeds. In a way, I quite like it - with the giant-robot-munching-on-rusty-chainsaws nature of the din further hammering home that this fast 2er is a very different kettle of fish to the standard M2 and indeed the M240i.

BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

BMW has had a go at improving the dynamics too. It’s been given the same carbonfibre strut brace as the M4, and the steering has been recalibrated to factor in the newfound front-end stiffness. Even with the fiddling, the M2 is as approachable as ever, putting the ‘roid rage-spec engine of the M4 in a far less intimidating package. And that’s a match made in M Division heaven, surely?

A manual gearbox would be our preference, and yes, one is still available, but the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is a good fit for the car. You just need to make sure it’s in the angriest of its three settings, otherwise it’s frustratingly hesitant to downshift. On the subject of modes, after a week of fiddling, I settled on Sport steering (Sport Plus is heavy in an unpleasant, stodgy sort of way), Sport Plus for engine response and the ESP set to the less intrusive MDM mode.

BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

The really clever trick the M2 Competition pulls off is flattering you as a driver, while still requiring you give it the attention it’s due. Grip and traction levels aren’t all that hard to reach and exceed - especially at this time of year - but whenever proceedings take a slippy turn at the rear, the Comp is wonderfully easy to manage.

It’s still not perfect, however, and my other big bugbear about the old M2 - the damping - remains unresolved. It rides firmly, and yet there is more body roll than you’d expect. And it never seems to settle - you have a near-constant vertical bob. This less than ideal body control means that the car often feels heavy and leaden. It’s still miles off Porsche Cayman-levels of dynamism.

BMW M2 Competition Review: The 1M Successor It Should Have Been All Along

While I’m moaning, it’s also worth pointing out that the interior really is starting to feel dated, especially knowing that the incoming Mercedes-AMG A45 will have a slick, screen-festooned cabin to enjoy.

Regardless, the Competition makeover turns the M2 into the car it always should have been - the lairy but fun descendent of the 1M and an apple that hasn’t fallen far from the tree. And unlike the M3 CS we drove recently, BMW hasn’t even cranked up the price all that much - at £49,285 (for a manual) it’s only around £2500 more expensive than before and still cheaper than the far less engaging Audi TT RS. It’s the cheapest current M car, and it’s finally the M car to have, just as we were hoping for it to be in the first place.

Could a circa £50k coupe ever be described as a bargain? In this case, I think so.



Great review!
This is probably my favourite car currently on sale

12/01/2018 - 15:20 |
4 | 0

1M I thought it was the M1 🤔

12/01/2018 - 15:43 |
1 | 1

BMW tried very hard to not call the 1-series M coupé an “M1”, because they don’t want people to confuse it with the original M1 E26.

12/01/2018 - 16:24 |
4 | 0

Two era…

12/01/2018 - 16:32 |
0 | 0

Do yourself a favour and look up the M1 Procar. There’s footage of the legendary Ayrton Senna driving it.

12/01/2018 - 18:24 |
0 | 0

I personally love the interior of the M2 and regular 2 series models. Nice, simple, well-made. Not like the new A Class, which has an interior dominated by stupid screens.

12/01/2018 - 16:03 |
37 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sadly more and more car will become screen machine and eventually die like smartphones. One day they’ll want us to swapp car every 5 years like we have to swapp phones every two year just to have working terminals

12/01/2018 - 16:33 |
6 | 0

Beautiful interior!

12/01/2018 - 16:53 |
3 | 1

It’s nice, but the extra power comes at a much higher cost of ownership, in terms of fuel economy, reliability and maintenance costs.

Be prepared to open your wallet way more often, the dealership I was at had a big issue with M2Cs breaking…

12/01/2018 - 18:23 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Melons

Fuel economy is important for a 400+ hp, £50k car? Surely you can’t expect econobox running costs for a PERFORMANCE vehicle.

12/04/2018 - 12:57 |
0 | 0

1625 kg, no wonder it feels heavy

12/01/2018 - 18:57 |
3 | 0

So sad how few people take a moment to gauge this stat in the ocean of other figures all headlines seem to push down your throat like top speed (useless), 0-60 (mostly useless) and mpg (useless when talking about performance vehicles) and gripes with… interior. I’d take an E30 interior new car today without a second thought if that museum piece interior would guarantee sub 1300kg for the current power figure.

12/04/2018 - 12:54 |
1 | 0
Burnout🔰(Rotary Fighter)(SaveCT)

This is one of my dream cars

12/02/2018 - 00:02 |
0 | 0

I don’t recall anyone ever having decided the M2 as “disappointing”. It’s been nearly universally lauded as BMW’s best drivers car in recent history. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the S55. Never have been. It’s powerful, sure, but it sounds awful to me. If they were to put a new engine in, they should have given it a proper, new S engine instead of a hand-me-down, neutered S55.

12/02/2018 - 00:43 |
1 | 0
Rotary Fanboy

What are you talking about, the interior is great, the new a class is ugly inside, just a bunch of screens ffs.

12/02/2018 - 06:50 |
3 | 1
Anaswar Jayakumar

The M2 Competition is terrible compared to the original M2. The engine is straight out of a M3 which means it sounds horrid and terrible without a aftermarket exhaust, the muffler is terribly placed and looks quite ugly and cheap, the price is significantly more compared to a slightly used M2 which can be had for significantly cheaper, and in the end the M2 Comp doesnt feel anything like the same car the M2 was because of the engine. Also there are way better options for the money i.e the Golf R, Audi RS3, Porsche 718/Cayman, and even the original 1M.

12/03/2018 - 05:14 |
0 | 2

Because you clearly look like you’ve driven both the M2 and M2 competition. With a selfie like that i can’t imagine anyone would let you near their car.
Couldn’t agree less with all points other than the muffler placement. Good day Sir.

12/03/2018 - 11:13 |
1 | 0

The Golf R is not even in the same league. The M2C gains 8 seconds over the the M2 on the ring, and yet you call the M2C terrible. There’s plenty of RS3 vs M2 comparisons online, and yet the M2 comes out the winner time and time again.

Time to clean your crack pipe, buddy.

12/04/2018 - 02:10 |
1 | 0

ok ok but why do you compare a top of the line new car to a used lower spec vehicle? And by what standard is a Golf R or Porsche better than a 2 series? I mean damn, you’re comparing hot hatches with a sport car with … a Porsche? I could similarly say a Swift is cheaper than a Phantom and better than a Dacia Duster. This would be a true statement at face value but makes no sense.

12/04/2018 - 12:47 |
0 | 0



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