BMW M2 (2015-2021) Review
It might be BMW’s smallest high-performance car, but the M2 packs a big punch, whichever version you go for
Strengths & weaknesses
The M2 is the smallest model from BMW’s ‘M’ high-performance division, but it’s most certainly big on thrills, despite its size. Early models produced a substantial 370hp from a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, while the later M2 Competition had 410hp and the range-topping M2 CS a whopping 450hp - with the Competition and CS both having a twin-turbo engine rather than the single-turbo engine of the regular ‘basic’ M2.
As a compact, high-performance car, the M2 is pitched against sports car rivals such as the Alpine A110 and Porsche Cayman (plus the faster and more expensive Porsche Cayman GT4 in the case of the M2 CS).
The Porsche and the Alpine might have the edge in terms of the driving experience, since they both have mid-mounted engines behind the driver that make them feel more agile on twisty roads than the BMW, but the M2 still provides an enormously fun driving experience.
But while its performance is very much in the sports car class, the M2 can still play the role of practical everyday car more effectively than most sports cars; it has four entirely practical seats, a decent size boot and can achieve around 30mpg fuel economy if you drive it relatively gently.
It’s still not as spacious as a typical hot hatchback, though, and in fact one of its main rivals is the 421hp Mercedes-AMG A45 S. This gets four-wheel-drive, which makes it a little faster-accelerating than the rear-wheel-drive M2 - especially on wet roads - but its four-cylinder engine lacks the musical exhaust note of the six-cylinder BMWs.
Talking of acceleration, the M2 can get from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds as a manual, or 4.3 seconds with an automatic gearbox. The Competition cuts those figures by a tenth of a second, while the CS can complete the sprint from 0–62mph in 4.0 seconds.
The M2’s styling is certainly more muscular than the 2 Series Coupe upon which it’s based and the overall effect is very purposeful and sporty, but it isn’t as sleek looking as, say, a Porsche Cayman.
Inside, you’ll find the same logically laid out cabin as the regular 2 Series, with a nine-inch central media system controlled by an intuitive and easy-to-operate rotary dial that’s located beside the gear lever. The system’s screen is also touch-controlled, which is useful if you want to delve more deeply into the car’s various settings when you're parked up.
The front seats are supportive and provide plenty of lateral grip for when you’re driving around corners at speed, but it’s annoying that electric adjustment is an optional extra. There’s plenty of Alcantara fabric and leather to lift the ambience of the cabin above that of the regular 2 Series, though.
You can buy the M2 with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Fewer and fewer sports cars are available with manual transmissions, so it's refreshing to have the choice here.
Should I get a BMW M2?
✔ Fantastic six-cylinder engines
✔ Great interior and boot space for a sports car
✔ Looks suitably muscular and menacing
✘ Interior a bit too similar to basic 2 Series Coupe
✘ Handles with less precision than Porsche Cayman
✘ Some hot hatches just as fast and more practical
The BMW M2 - whichever version you’re considering - looks fantastic, offers excellent performance and plenty of grip: it really is great fun to drive. On top of that, its usable rear seats and a decent size boot make it a much more usable everyday car than equivalent sports cars, especially two-seater models such as the Porsche Cayman and Alpine A110.
True, its rivals from Alpine and Porsche deliver a more precise driving experience, while hot hatch alternatives such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 S are more practical for everyday use. But for combining a spine-tingling engine note with searing performance and an exciting drive, the M2 still takes some beating.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best BMW M2 for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
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The ‘regular’ M2 was only sold in the UK for a relatively short period - between 2016 and 2018, and features pumped-up, wider bodywork to distinguish it from regular 2 Series models. It also gets aluminium suspension components that make it both lighter and more responsive on the road.
Its 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine produces 370hp and features some internal parts from the one in the larger M3 and M4, although it’s otherwise relatively similar to the engine in the M235i and M240i.
As standard, the M2 has an electronically limited 155mph top speed, but if it’s specified with the optional M Driver’s Package, that increases to 168mph.
BMW M2 Competition
The Competition version of the M2 is significantly more powerful than the earlier model. This is because it features a detuned version of the engine from the larger and more powerful BMW M4. So, although it still features a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, it gets two turbochargers rather than one, and modified engine internals. This means it has 410hp rather than the 370hp of the earlier M2 and, when specified with the optional M Driver’s Package, a top speed of 174mph.
But as well as a fair bit more power, compared with earlier M2 models the Competition also has lower, stiffer suspension, bigger brakes and an electronic locking differential, which makes it feel sharper and more responsive on twisty country roads or on a circuit.
There are also visual differences, with the M2 Competition featuring a more aggressive-looking body kit, complete with aerodynamic aids such as a rear diffuser, which enable it to remain more stable at high speeds.
BMW M2 CS
The CS represents the very pinnacle of the M2 range. It gets yet more power, for a total output of 450hp. This is because it uses exactly the same engine in exactly the same state of tune as the BMW M4 Competition that was made up until 2020.
The CS also features adaptive damping, allowing you to tune the car’s suspension settings to suit the road - or track - you’re on.
Other aspects of the car that differentiate it from other versions of the M2 include a bonnet and roof that are made from lightweight carbon fibre (as is the transmission tunnel), and an active exhaust system for a sportier sound, along with unique wheel designs. Inside, the car features a carbon fibre centre console, leather and Alcantara seats and an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel.
|BMW M2||From £4,995: Only available until 2018 as a new car, the original BMW M2 produced 370hp courtesy of its single-turbo 3.0-litre engine, plus impressive fuel economy of 33.2mpg.|
|BMW M2 Competition||From £4,995: The M2 Competition uses the twin-turbo engine from the larger M4, so gets more power - with 410hp - as well as two turbos. It’s 55kg heavier than the ‘original’ M2, though, which blunts its performance advantage a little.|
|BMW M2 CS||From £4,995: The most extreme expression of the M2, the 450hp CS gets more power, less weight, a sporty-sounding active exhaust and clever adaptive suspension that lets you adjust how sporty the car feels while you’re on the move.|
The M2 CS is expensive, at £75,000 when brand new, but it takes the already brilliant twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine from the Competition version of the M2 and adds another 40hp, to make a total of 450hp. It makes a fantastic noise while doing so, as well - and one that’s optimised by the great-sounding active exhaust.
So, if you want maximum performance from your M2, this is the version to go for. The lesser versions are still mightily powerful, though, so if you can't stretch to a CS, you shouldn't feel short changed by the M2 or M2 Competition.
The limited range and limited interior space of the BMW M2 means it won’t be for everyone, though it is still pretty practical for such an engaging driver's car. It can also be rather expensive, but then this is a high-performance machine.
|BMW M2: The most basic flavour of M2 was a substantial £12,000 cheaper than the cheapest BMW M4 when it was new. It might have been discontinued in 2018, but that also means it’s even more of a second-hand bargain now and still a very exciting car to drive.|
|BMW M2 Competition: No M2 is really a practical family car, but all versions offer four seats and reasonable size boots. The M2 Competition, with its more powerful engine and improved handling, is more fun than the original car and more affordable than the pricey CS.|
|M2 CS: Weight-saving carbon fibre body panels, plus more power than in any other M2 makes the CS the one to go for if you want the fastest M2 around. The fact that it gets adaptive suspension is a useful bonus, too.|
|BMW M2: It’s perhaps unfair to put this one under the ‘one to avoid’ category, as it’s still brilliant, but the less-awesome engine, and a reputation for an overly intrusive traction control system, mean you're better off going for a Competition version if your budget can stretch to it.|
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The most obvious rivals for the BMW M2 are sporty coupes. The Audi TT RS sticks out here, as it has a similar power output, an upmarket badge on the bonnet and a pair of rear seats. It’s much more cramped in the back than the BMW, however, and nowhere near as fun to drive.
Two-seater coupe rivals, with their mid-mounted engines behind the driver and passenger seats, come in the form of the Alpine A110 and the Porsche Cayman. These both feel like more precise tools, but the BMW’s engine offers a better sound and superior punch.
If you are seeking a bit of extra practicality from your performance car, then a high-end hot hatch, such as the Audi RS3 or Mercedes-AMG A45 S, might well be the answer, as these offer a pair of rear doors and the flexibility of a hatchback bootlid.
BMW M2 practicality: dimensions and boot space
At 4,468mm long, the M2 is a touch longer than the regular 2 Series Coupe, owing to its chunkier front and rear bumper designs, but it’s still a fairly compact car. It’s also 1,854mm wide and 1,410mm tall, making it similar in width and height to the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, though the Mercedes hatchback offers a little more interior space.
The M2 is also significantly longer than the 4,379mm Porsche Cayman, however, as that model only needs to accommodate two seats. It’s around 55mm wider than the Porsche as well. If you go for the M2 CS, it’s a little wider than the regular or Competition models at 1,871mm.
|Length 4,468mm||Width 1,854mm - 1,871mm||Height 1,410mm|
Boot space in the BMW M2 is the same as you’ll find in the regular 2 Series Coupe - that is to say a reasonably generous 390 litres. That means it has 85 litres more luggage room than the Audi TT and 20 litres more than the Mercedes-AMG A45 S hot hatch, though the saloon body style is less flexible than the Mercedes’ hatchback shape when it comes to loading large items.
Although the M2 is surprisingly accommodating when it comes to luggage, it can’t beat the 425 litres of total space available in the Porsche Cayman, though in the case of the Porsche this is split between a large luggage space beneath the rear hatchback and a smaller one under the bonnet (as the engine is where the rear seats would otherwise be).
|Boot size 390 litres|
In the Auto Express 2020 Driver Power survey, BMW as a brand finished third from last - a disappointing result for a premium car brand.
That being said, the 2 Series as a model range tends to fare better in reliability and driver satisfaction surveys. The M2 itself tends not to be surveyed specifically, as its sales numbers are too low.
BMW’s warranty has no mileage limit on it, but it is limited to three years - unless you opt for one of the company's extended warranties.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
With various versions of the M2 on sale over the years, there is a relatively broad spread of choice when it comes to used models - broad for a single model sold in relatively small volumes, that is.
Earlier models are slightly less satisfying to drive as well as being less powerful than the later Competition-badged cars, so are the entry point into the M2 range, price-wise. They’re also the oldest available M2 models, so will be available at a lower price point due to this, too.
The newer M2 Competition, with its M4-derived engine, is both a more powerful car and a more enjoyable one to drive, but it was more expensive when new, and its extra cost makes it more expensive when you look at outright prices.
All M2s are very desirable cars, however, which means that they hold onto their value well and make the prospect of PCP finance monthly payments relatively affordable, since what the car is worth at the end of the contract is just as important in shaping the instalments as the car's initial price.
If you want the most power from your M2, then the CS is the one to go for, with its 450hp. Its clever adaptive suspension, weight-saving carbon fibre parts and active exhaust also set it apart. These are rare, however, and rather expensive, as the model was £75,000 when new and only released towards the end of this version of the M2’s time on sale.
Examples of the M2 Competition are much more readily available, and this version still gets the upgraded engine compared with the ‘original’ M2 (though it only has 410hp compared to the CS’s 450hp) as well as various chassis and performance upgrades. Of all the M2s, the Competition probably represents the model’s sweet spot.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.