BMW has given the production green light to a new rear-wheel-drive M2 performance coupé, as part of a future range of smaller M car models that will include a four-wheel-drive M2 Gran Coupe and a 1 Series with more than 400hp.
The second-generation M2 coupé, which takes the internal codename G87 will feature a detuned version of BMW M’s latest six-cylinder petrol engine, sourced from the soon-to-be-revealed new M3 and M4 and the recently introduced X3 M and X4 M.
This twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre petrol unit, dubbed S58, replaces the similarly configured S55 used by the current M2 and promises the same high-revving characteristics, with a redline of 7,200rpm.
Nothing is official at this early stage, but insiders hint that the S58 will be tuned to provide the new junior M car with at least 426hp in standard form – a 16hp increase over today’s M2 Competition – to top the 422hp of the turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine in the Mercedes-AMG A45 S.
Together with 550Nm of torque, this should ensure off-the-line performance is on par with, if not better than, that of its predecessor, despite an incremental increase in weight due to slightly larger dimensions. Its 0-100kph time should be in the low 4sec bracket and its top speed close to 280kph when configured with a final drive ratio similar to today’s M2.
The basis for the new M2 is the forthcoming second-generation 2 Series coupé, itself heavily related to the third-generation Z4 and its Toyota GR Supra sibling.
Due to reach showrooms internationally in 2021, the new 2 Series coupé, known internally by the codename G42, takes a different technical route to the new 2 Series Gran Coupe by adopting the latest evolution of BMW’s Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform. This ensures the future M2 will have a similar mechanical layout to today’s model, with a longitudinal engine mounting instead of the transverse layout of its four-door M235i xDrive Gran Coupe sibling, which is based on BMW’s Front Architecture (FAAR) platform.
The adoption of the CLAR platform also future-proofs the M2 by providing it with the basis for a 48V electrical architecture, which is crucial for such features as throttle-off engine idling, regenerative braking and the option of an electric boosting function.
The new M2 is expected to go without mild-hybrid electric boosting when introduced. However, with BMW’s M division already well advanced on such a system for the S58 engine, it could be incorporated during the car’s planned seven-year life cycle.
Sources from our sister publication, Autocar UK, suggest that all future M models will eventually receive mild-hybrid technology as part of BMW’s plans to lower its fleet-average CO2 figure.
Internationally, BMW plans to offer the new M2 with a 6-speed manual gearbox and an electronically controlled Active M Differential. There will also be the option of an 8-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, which would be crucial if the car is to receive a mild-hybrid system. This will replace the current M2’s dual-clutch automatic gearbox, matching developments elsewhere in the BMW M range.
As with the current M2, a number of traditional M division developments will elevate the new model above regular 2 Series coupé variants. These include additional stiffening measures by way of suspension-strut tower-mounted beams front and rear, dynamic engine mounts and a wider track, the last of which has once again necessitated new bodywork.
Despite the M division’s move to provide other recent M models with fully variable four-wheel drive, Autocar UK’s sources said the new M2 will retain rear-wheel drive exclusively as part of plans to pitch it as a purist, circuit-bred model in the best of BMW tradition.
The decision to stick with rear-wheel drive will give the M2 a unique selling point in a market now dominated by four-wheel-drive rivals, including performance hatchbacks such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 S. And although the Porsche 718 Cayman is considered a competitor to the new BMW, its engine is mounted in the middle, rather than up front.
Aesthetically, the new M2 is said to draw heavily on the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe for inspiration. The two are said to share similar front-end styling, most notably in the shape of the grille and headlights. However, the longitudinal engine in the new M2 dictates a longer bonnet and a more cab-rearward profile than its transverse-engined, four-door relation.
It's also understood that the M2 will eventually be joined by a four-door namesake, despite previous reports to the contrary. Rivalling the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and forthcoming new Audi RS3 sedan, the M2 Gran Coupe will get around 405hp from a highly tuned version of the M235i Gran Coupe’s four-cylinder engine and have fully variable four-wheel drive.
That unit will also transfer into the most powerful 1 Series hatchback yet, which will sit above the 306hp M135i. It’s not clear what name this new flagship will take. The M1 name is considered holy ground, having been used on the first bespoke road-going M car back in 1978, and 1M was the widely used nickname for the limited-run 1 Series M coupé of 2011.
The new M versions of the 1 Series and 2 Series will complement a successor to the rear-wheel-drive M240i coupé, giving BMW a diversified line-up of both four- and six-cylinder junior performance cars for years to come.
Closer to home, BMW is slated to launch the 2 Series Gran Coupe in the Indian market in 2020-21. It will be the German brand's first small four-door coupé in our market and will be positioned below the 3 Series in the carmakers line-up. Once launched, it will rival the Mercedes-Benz A-class sedan and the Audi A3.
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