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First drive: 2023 BMW M2 Prototype. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2023 BMW M2 Prototype
The new BMW M2 might just be BMW's last fully internal combustion-powered M car, but will it be any good?

   



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There's a new 'G87' BMW M2 Coupe on the way to the UK next year, using more bits from its M3 and M4 siblings than before. BMW hasn't yet shown us how the new 'baby' M car will look, but to get us in the mood for BMW M's 50th anniversary, it did allow us to take a couple of engineering prototypes for a flat-out test around the Salzburgring in Austria. This could be the last ever BMW M car to feature purely internal combustion power, too, so is it a fitting farewell?

Test Car Specifications

Model: BMW M2 Coupe engineering prototype
Price: c.65,000 (estimated)
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Max power: 450hp (approx.)
Max torque: 580Nm (estimated)
Boot space: 390 litres

Styling

The test cars were wrapped in 'camouflage' in an attempt to disguise the finished shape of the new M2, but there's no hiding the brawny new haunches, integrated flip spoiler and, of course, the expected quad exhaust system. It's not as if regular versions of the new BMW 2 Series Coupe looked meek, but the M2 should press all the right petrolhead buttons to cement its position at the top of the line-up. A couple of little titbits we did glean from our time with the car and its development team: a carbon roof will be optionally available; and the M2 sits on mixed-size tyres for the first time (just like the M3/M4), with 19-inch rims up front and 20-inch rims at the back.

Interior

Though the test cars' cabins were a little rough and ready, it's clear how the M2's interior is going to look. It gets the BMW curved instrument display with the swanky new Operating System 8 software for a start, and we're relieved to see that it retains the rotary iDrive controller on the centre console (this is not the case in the version fitted to the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and next year's BMW X1). We're told that system will come to the 2 Series Coupe in 2023, too.
The M1/M2 driving settings buttons behind the (perfectly round) steering wheel are present and correct and there's a simple "SETUP" button on the centre console to summon up a menu to adjust those and all the other driving sub-system systems - as we're used to in other BMW M cars.
Although BMW UK has yet to confirm specifications, it would appear that the entry-level seat is a part-leather affair with the M2 name embossed in the backrest, and that the wonderful BMW M carbon bucket seats we've experienced elsewhere in the range will be optional.

Practicality

BMW hasn't quoted a boot volume for the M2 as yet, but we expect it'll retain the 2 Series Coupe's 390-litre space, with split-folding rear seat backs and seating for two in the rear. As sports coupes go, it's fairly practical.

Performance

We've had to estimate the peak outputs of the M2's engine as BMW won't confirm them as yet. It did let slip that maximum power should be the same as that of the previous-generation M2 CS, which means 450hp, though we suspect that there's a little more torque available, perhaps as high as 580Nm. This twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine is, after all, a detuned version of that in the M3 and M4.
Not that it feels wanting. Even on the wide, smooth open expanses of a fast racetrack, the M2 grabs your attention. Lap after lap it hit 250km/h on the longest straight and there's significant acceleration and torque on tap from low revs, too. The straight-six is unmistakably from the BMW M stable of powerplants, though it doesn't sound quite as aggressive as that fitted to its larger siblings.

Ride & Handling

This time around, the M2 comes with adaptive damping as standard, which is great news, though we can't really tell you what the car will ride like as yet, as we spent our wheel time flat-out on a smooth track. There, it acquitted itself well. The brakes (no carbon ceramics available here) stood up to the abuse with little complaint and though the car was fun through the direction changes in the chicanes, the overriding impression is of a car that's very stable and dependable driven to its limits, even at very high speed. We were left with the feeling that it might not be as 'pointy' as the previous models, but we'll need a different venue to explore that theory.
At the exit of the chicanes, the mid-level setting of the stability control allows maximum use of the available traction, with just enough rear-end slip to let you know that the limits are being broached, but it never felt nervous or dangerous. Just fast. Really, really fast.

Value

Until the finished M2 is revealed later this year, it's a guessing game as to the price of the car. The M240i xDrive is about 45,000, while the M3 Competition is over 78,000, so it's safe to say it'll be between those. It isn't yet clear if there will be regular and Competition flavours of the M2, either, nor do we know which variants will be sold in the UK.

Verdict

There's still a lot to learn about the 2023 BMW M2 when we get it on a regular road, but first impressions from our high-speed circuit test suggest that BMW M has managed to raise the ability of the car. It's certainly even more track-capable than before, with unerring stability and superb brakes. Will that translate into a car that's truly engaging and exciting to drive on the road? Here's hoping.



Shane O'Donoghue - 16 Jul 2022



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BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.

BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.BMW M2 prototype (2022). Image by BMW.








 

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