BMW’s M division has ramped up the performance potential of the M2 with the introduction of a heavily upgraded version of the rear-wheel-drive coupé.
The 2018 model, which is called the M2 Competition, replaces the standard M2. It packs a new 410hp version of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine that powers the M3 and M4. This enables a sharper 0-100kph time of 4.2sec in combination with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Also, in anticipation of strict new CO2 emission guidelines, BMW M has given the engine a particulate filter.
The top speed is governed at 250kph. The new M2 has been conceived to enhance the standing of the two-year-old performance coupé against rivals such as the Porsche Cayman GTS and Audi TT RS. As a result, the M2 Competition not only receives an injection of extra performance but also adopts a number of subtle chassis changes.
BMW M division’s head of development, Dirk Häcker, said the chassis revisions provide the new M2 with “a significantly improved response and more progressive on-the-limit characteristics” than its predecessor.
Power for the new M2 comes from a detuned version of BMW M’s S55 engine, as used by the M3 and M4. In the M2 Competition, the twin-turbo 3.0-litre unit delivers 410hp between 5,250rpm and 7,000rpm and 550Nm from 2,350rpm to 5,200rpm. This represents increases of 40hp and 84Nm over the original M2’s turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder N55 engine, but it’s 21hp less than in the M3 and M4, albeit with the same torque. It also means the M2 Competition has 45hp and 129Nm more than the turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder Cayman GTS.
The M2 Competition’s kerb weight is 55kg heavier than the old M2’s at 1,550kg in six-speed manual guise, largely due to the engine. Despite the added bulk, its power-to-weight ratio has risen by 17hp per tonne over its predecessor to 265hp per tonne. Drive is channelled through the same standard six-speed manual and optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes as today’s M2.
They retain the same ratios as before and operate in combination with an electronic limited-slip Active M Differential, which provides a locking effect to the rear wheels of between 0-100 percent depending on the prevailing traction, yaw rate and steering angle, among other factors.
BMW’s performance claims for the M2 Competition point to a 0-100kph time of 4.4sec for the standard manual version and 4.2sec for the dual-clutch model. Both achieve a top speed governed at 250kph, but this can be raised to 280kph with an optional Driver’s Package.
By comparison, the older M2 has a claimed 0-100kph time of 4.5sec for the manual and 4.3sec for the dual-clutch version. The Cayman GTS covers 0-100kph in 4.6sec in six-speed manual form and 4.3sec with its optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
To accommodate the new engine, BMW has re-engineered the M2’s front end, providing it with an extra radiator as well as a new boomerang-shaped carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic strut brace. The changes are claimed to offer significantly greater stiffness and added steering precision.
Taking advantage of the added stiffness, BMW M has altered the steering mapping so as to keep "the focus is on additional on-centre response.” Further changes include an optional brake package which replaces the standard 380mm front and 370mm rear discs and four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers with 400mm front and 380mm rear discs allied to six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.
The differential has also been upgraded with new software that, Häcker said, has allowed vital changes to the DSC system via a new MDM (M Dynamic Mode) activated in the Sport+ driving mode. “It now intervenes later, allowing greater oversteer and more controlled drifts. However, the DSC can still be relied upon in critical situations,” he said.
The M2 Competition adopts a number of styling changes that give it a more aggressive appearance and address the new engine’s need for improved cooling efficiency. Up front, there is a more heavily structured bumper with larger cooling ducts, a redesigned kidney grille and more advanced headlights, which have an adaptive LED function as standard. Other visual changes include new M-style exterior mirror housings similar to those on the M3 and M4 as well as lightly reworked tail-lights, an altered rear bumper and, as standard in the UK, new 19-inch forged alloy wheels shod with 245/35-profile (front) and 265/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
Inside, the M2 Competition is differentiated from the outgoing model by a number of subtle changes. Included as standard on UK models are new M Sport front seats, reconfigured M instruments, M seatbelts in various colours, the M Drive manager function from the M3 and M4, Park Distance Control and a red start/stop button.