Test Drive: 2016 BMW M2

My Spirit Animal

I often imagine myself as other things and objects. I know; weird, right? But don’t tell me you’ve not done the same. For example, if I were an animal I’d probably be a dachshund. Why, you ask? Well, we’re both vertically challenged, have somewhat anxious and neurotic personalities, and we are fiercely (to a fault) loyal to those we love and want to protect (and we can both be rather yappy when not controlled accordingly).

If I were an inanimate object I’d likely be your headphones every time you take them out of your pocket/bag: a complete chaotic disaster, but once sorted and untangled, work perfectly well and bring you much joy and happiness with your favourite tunes.

Sensing a theme here?

So, when I sat behind the wheel of the savagely fantastic and all-new BMW M2, I knew we were one and the same. If I were a car, I would be the M2. Miranda = M2. This car is my spirit vehicle through and through. The connection was uncanny.

Short in size but not in personality

Being of a smaller variety in life, I’ve learned to deal with my vertical challenges. Being shorter than, well, most everyone else around me has its disadvantages, but largely its all advantages and bonuses. I fit in all cars (front and back seats), airplane seats always have enough legroom (even in cattle class), buying pants that are the right length is often a pain in the *ss, but I also never have to worry about skirts being too short; and asking for a stranger’s help in retrieving items on higher shelves or luggage from up high is always met with a sympathetic look one might reserve for small helpless kittens or puppies.

I’m all right with all of that.

And the BMW M2 should be, too.

It’s little. Very little. Not as little as the much-loved and oh-so terribly missed 1M (and I’ll go back to that hot little number in a little bit), but the M2 is most definitely compact. And in all the right ways.

It’s stubby little nose and tightly cropped rear hug the four wheels to perfection, and its squat stance gives the illusion that it’s a loaded spring, ready to explode at any second – and it kind of is.

Don’t be fooled by the M2’s seemingly tiny exterior dimensions though; inside you’ll find just the right amount of space for four. My son’s seat fit very nicely in the back, and he had more than enough room (and a great vantage point for spirited driving). Of course, the 2+2 configuration makes for a tight squeeze should four full-size adults want to take a journey in the M2, but trust me the close-quartered adventure will be well worth it once the driver engages the absolutely lovely engine and selects “D.”

Let’s address the elephant in the small blue coupe, shall we? Yes, my BMW M2 was equipped with an automatic transmission. No, don’t click away just yet. It’s not blasphemous, and truth be told it wasn’t even bad. In fact, the 7-speed M-DCT was phenomenal. Still not on par with Porsche’s PDK (I doubt anyone will touch that system for years if I’m honest), BMW’s dual-clutch system is so very smooth and effective that I can completely forgive the lack of a third pedal. Seriously.

Coupled with BMW’s potent 3.0L turbocharged inline-6, the combination in the BMW M2 is nothing short of perfection. Three-hundred and sixty-five ponies rush out the rear wheels (that will delightfully cut loose if you coax them to in just the right way), and 343 glorious lb-ft of torque is on tap as low as 1,400 RPM.

The BMW M2 can be as loud, raucous and rambunctious as you want it to be. Push it in the right ways and this little coupe will bite back, hard. It’s got some serious attitude and is not to be crossed, despite its minute stature on the road. Just as the 1M was a complete shock once behind the wheel (Wait, this little thing can do THAT?!), the M2 has precisely the same effect.

Back to the beautiful basics

The real beauty with the M2 is its return to everything BMW M Cars have stood for in the past. Sure, it’s loaded with the latest technology and gadgets and an automatic transmission, but it’s still gloriously raw in all the right ways; the handling, steering, suspension, and engine/transmission play and harmonization.

For the first time in a long, long time I felt at one with a car. I felt a connection I’d not felt in, perhaps, years. We’re so cocooned in our cars these days, and the M2 strips all that padding and coddling away. It’s straight up in your face and totally unapologetic about it. Hence, my spirit animal.

2016 BMW M2

Price starting at: $61,000
Configuration: Front engine/RWD
Engine/Transmission: 3.0L inline-6 turbocharged, 7-speed M-DCT
Power/Torque: 365 horsepower/343 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (52L)
Observed fuel economy: You don’t want to know
Estimated combined fuel economy: 10.4L/100km
Competitors: Ford Focus RS, Porsche Cayman GT4, Audi RS3, Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG

Related links:

BMW Canada
Canadian Auto Review (CAR)

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