We drove the BMW M2 Coupé: the unique magic of “classic” BMW driving…

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Revelling at the marvelous sound of a thoroughbred straight six, revving up under full power, all this in a car which responds with precision at the slightest movement of the wheel.

Steering a sporting compact “bolide”, which will readily go in a finely balanced power slide when you ask for it, that’s BMW driving as we have always understood it. The BMW which carries this tradition into the present day is this M2 Coupé. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Being the proud and very happy owner of a 1,9 liter Z3 Roadster , it felt like coming home. The gearlever fell into my hand in exactly the same way, having actually a completely identical shape, I found the same position behind the wheel, the same “feel” of throttle and clutch, with the same dials and needles of revs and speed looking at you.

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Just wonderful how the BMW engineers and designers have kept the “classic” BMW theme, look and feel intact and well alive over all these years. Lest not forget, my Z3 (with extra fixed- head roof) was born in 1997, and yet, we find it all back here, alive and kicking.

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My Z3 is Ice Blue Metallic, and to stay in the theme, the test car was sprayed in Long Beach Blue. The Z3 has black leather seats, and the M2 had also Dakota Black leather seats, with blue stitching however, noblesse oblige.

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A marvelous six cylinder

Whereas my Z3 has a smooth and very willing four cylinder, good for 140 HP or 103 kW, the marvelous six cylinder of the M2 is a different affair.

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Already the beautiful sound sends your car loving heart racing, as we mentioned already. But then there is the power: the 2979 cc engine develops 272 kW or 370 HP at a well sounding 6500 rpm. The M TwinPower Turbo engine has it all: it has variable valve action, dubbed Valvetronic, including a double VANOS. High precision injection and a TwinScroll turbocompressor are doing the rest. Torque? You bet: a whopping 465 Nm is available between 1350 and 4500 rpm, and on top of that a 35 Nm overboost. Gentlemen, do we need to say more? The pulling power of the Z3 pales here into insignificance: its torque of 180 Nm is reached at 4300 rpm.

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The acceleration times are also of a very different league. Does accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h cost 9,5 seconds in the Z3, the M2 will catapult you in merely 4,5 seconds from standstill to 100 km/h. It storms further to a (governed) top speed of 250 km/h. The Z3 will run out of breath at 205 km/h. Just order the Drivers’ Package, and your M2 will be 270 km fast…

Being performance wise in a totally different league, the M2 succeeded nevertheless to be almost just as frugal as the Z3. The manufacturer quotes an average consumption of 8,5 liters/100 km for this powerful bolide, with CO2 emissions being a quite reasonable 199 g/km. The corresponding data for the Z3 are 8 liters/100 km and 189 g/km of CO2. Your driving style will of course determine largely how your consumption will be. We only have to praise BMW for installing, since years now, the instant consumption indicator needle within the speedometer or rev counter cluster, which has taught us more about consumption and driving dynamics than anything else.

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A word of praise is of course also fitting for the 6 speed manual gearbox. Lightning fast changes are the hallmark of this box, which has new friction linings in carbon at the synchromesh rings, and of course dry-sump lubrication.

Exhilarating handling

The M2 is built for very spirited driving, and feels indeed fully at home on the race track. It has a lightweight front and rear suspension, stemming from the M3/M4. The control arms, wheel carriers, axle (sub)frames, and stiffening plate of the double-joint spring-strut front axle are all aluminum.

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The active M limited slip differential with fully variable power distribution between the rear wheels lets you control power slides like never before. The multi-plate slip limiter is electronically controlled, and is coupled to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) unit; it will proactively vary the slip between 0 and 100 pct. By the way, it can fully lock in 150 milliseconds. A more sporting driver can select the M Dynamic Mode, which results in the DSC interfering later, and the talented driver remains responsible for stabilizing the car when driving on the limit. This is BMW driving, as we have always understood it…

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Steering effort and sensitivity is varying too according to the driven speed with the M Servotronic, and can be individually configured on three levels.

Perforated, ventilated disks fore and aft (380 mm Front and 370 mm rear) guarantee adequate stopping power. The brake calipers (with not less than four pistons at the front…) are sprayed fittingly in M blue…

Conclusion

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The M2 is a true drivers’ car. A car to cherish and keep, as it is built to deliver exquisite driving pleasure for years and years to come. Of course, German build quality, state of the art electronics and engineering make it sturdy, frugal, docile and smooth, totally easy to handle for everybody to be fully enjoyed in everyday use.

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A car to pass on to your (grand)children? You bet, and it will certainly be also appreciated by them, with its timeless, almost classic BMW shapes and curves, also continued in the cabin, where it breathes the evergreen BMW sporting tradition…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

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