If I could write this review in 140 characters or less, then the title above would be sufficient. If you’d like to skip the entire review now, then let me leave you with this: The new 2023 BMW M2 is the best M car today. Period. Now if you’re interested in finding out why, then continue below. A few weeks ago, I boarded a plane to Berlin to sample the BMW iX M60. But that was just the teaser for what was to come. Days later and a long stretch of Autobahn brings me to the famed Salzburgring in Austria.
Two M2 Prototype Models To Track
The reason for my quick pitstop? A day with the upcoming 2023 BMW M2. As with we’ve seen with other new BMW products, the Bavarians like to give access to testing some of their cars in pre-production form. Even though the cars are close to production form, BMW engineers are still eager to collect unbiased feedback from outsiders. Journalists in this case. And of course, they are also eager to share some well-kept secrets over the years.
But there weren’t many secrets when it comes to the G87 BMW M2 generation. Plenty of early leaks and insider info revealed a plethora of technical details. Things like the S58 engine, six-speed manual or carbon bucket seats have been part of our G87 M2 coverage for nearly two years. Yet, there were a lot more things to uncover, including the driving experience.
A wet track awaits me and that could be challenging especially since I’m behind a new car and going around a circuit I’ve never tracked before. The lead car takes us through a few reconnaissance laps, before letting me unleash the full power of the G87 BMW M2. First and foremost, the new M2 gets most of its tech from the new M3/M4 family. And despite being a controversial car when it comes to their design, the G80/G82 models are impressive on the track.
Wider Than Current M2
The G87 M2 comes with a shorter wheelbase than the M4 (4.3 inches / 110 mm), but it has the same track width in the front and in the rear. But much bigger than the normal 2 Series – around 2.2 inches wider (54 mm). BMW used the same tires and wheels from the M4 – 19 inches in the front with 275 / 35 mm tires, and 20 inches in the back with 285 mm / 30 rubber. There is no additional wheel option for the M2, but you can order the car with the Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires.
No word yet on the weight of the car. But the rumor put its somewhere between the current F87 M2 and the G82 M4. No surprises there either.
The braking system is also inherited from the M3/M4, but BMW M has no plans to offer a carbon ceramic option at market launch. Carbon fiber roof is also an option for the G87 M2, along with M Performance Parts. Dirk Hacker, BMW M Head of Engineering, refrained from confirming BMW Individual colors for the new M2, but my feeling is that in the future that option will become available.
450 HP, Two Transmission Choices
The two prototypes were both delivering around 450 horsepower, regardless of the transmission choice. Speaking of the gearboxes – no surprises there, six-speed manual (the last of its kind) and an eight-speed automatic. Of course, the gearboxes come with a software tune specific to the M2’s driving characteristics. The power is sent to the rear wheels only and there is no M xDrive system.
The M Adaptive suspension is standard in the new 2023 BMW M2, just like they were on the F87 M2 CS. The cooling system, not surpassingly, comes from the M3/M4 as well.
Lots of work also went into the steering rack. BMW says they wanted to give the M2 a more agile driving characteristic than in the M3 and M4. It uses the same steering rack though, but software tuned for the G87 M2. I’m also happy to report that the rev matching can be turned off, independent from other functions of the car.
Curved Display, iDrive 8, Carbon Bucket Seats
Inside, the 2023 BMW M2 retains the driver-oriented layout, while gaining the large curved display from other new BMWs. The seats are also imported from the M3/M4: standard M Sport seats, optional carbon bucket seats. On the track, the carbon seats hugged me nicely, with great side support, creating some sort of a cocoon around me. While I’m not a fan of the very same seats in the other M cars, I would certainly get them for the M2.
It wouldn’t be an M car without additional engineering under the sheet metal. The G87 M2 comes with a stiffer body than the M240i and also with rear dampers borrowed from the upcoming BMW M3 Touring. The limited slip differential also comes with a specific tune which improves the handling and driving dynamics of the 2023 M2. And gives you a bit more tail spin.
Most Fun M Car On The Track
Now it’s time to finally share my driving impressions. Let me start with this. It has been a while since I’ve been so excited about a new BMW. Yes, I drove some fantastic and fast cars, like the M5 CS, M8 and even the new M3/M4, but none of them put a smile on my face like the G87 BMW M2. This is the M car to buy today. We, journalists, can sit here and nitpick the new M2, but in the end, this is a fantastic piece of engineering that will go down in history as one of the best driving BMWs.
And keep in mind, I only had about 10-12 laps on the track, with both prototypes, which barely allowed me to scratch the surface when it comes to pushing the cars. Throw this new “Baby-M” in the hands of a professional race driver, and that deposit will leave your bank account in an instant.
Thanks to its smaller, but wider track, the 2023 BMW M2 feels nimbler and lighter on its feet than the current M4. The front springs are quite stiff, biting more at the front-end and sticking the car to the asphalt. I can also feel the softer dampers in the rear helping with any oversteer you might encounter under high loads. The new M2 comes with the typical three driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport+. But as with other new BMWs, they are set far apart. So you can have your daily driver in Comfort and your weekend track weapon in Sport+.
Get the Six-Speed Manual
The Sport and Sport+ modes are what I mostly used on the track, and they perform superbly in tight corners, and especially going over the track’s kerbs. The M2 stays well planted, with plenty of grip, despite the fairly wet track. Turn ins are sharp, there is virtually no body roll and the brake-by-wire system provides ample stopping power.
BMW’s 8-speed ZF is precise and smooth as always, and it will make for a faster drive on the track while being more comfortable to drive day-to-day. But of course, it’s the 6-speed manual that any purist should buy. Firstly, it’s absolutely the last of its kind in a BMW M2. Or maybe in any M car. There is no way around that with the next M cars becoming plug-in hybrids or fully electric. Secondly, the manual gearbox just goes perfectly hand-in-hand with the smaller size of the M2.
Just like the the BMW 1M, or even the outgoing F87 M2, the rowing of your own gears make these cars even more special. The rev-matching could be annoying, but luckily you can turn it off. In my case, I found it quite useful on the track while delivering a more engaging driving experience.
The M2 prototypes were even more fun to toss around when I loosen up the traction nannies. The rear-end is a lot more playful, but even when I missed that perfect corner exit, the differential kicked in to keep me from spinning. Just don’t tell BMW that I tried to drift it a bit. I blamed that slide on the wet track.
Steering feedback and response is quite important in this segment, and especially for M2 customers. While the electric steering will never match the mechanical unit in the 1M, the upgrade over the current F87 M2 is obvious. It has a nice weight with a good sense of track feedback coming through. It’s also quite precise, keeping the car on the racing line with small angle inputs. Overall, it just plays nicer with a smaller car like the M2, compared to the larger and heavier M4.
Unfortunately, BMW said no to my request for a 0 to 60 mph time. And that’s understandable since the prototypes are still in pre-production form. But looking at the current M2 CS, the new G87 M2 should be just as fast, if not slightly faster, coming in under 4.0 seconds.
Speaking of CS models and other variants, no word on the new M2 naming convention. But our own sources say that the new “Baby-M” will come to market with just the M2 badge. It’s unclear whether there will be room for an M2 Competition or the M wizards will simply bring out the big guns: the M2 CS and the fan favorite M2 CSL.
Don’t Think Twice – This New M2 Delivers
By now, you might have caught a glimpse of my enthusiasm around this new BMW M2. This is a modern M car with all the power and performance one needs. Its design might be controversial, but once you get behind the wheel, that concern will fade away. In the end, we should all cherish these sportscars. Times are changing and design or grilles will be the least of our concerns in the future. So if money no object, there is very little reason why the new BMW M2 shouldn’t be part of your garage.
It’s an exciting little track weapon and I cannot wait to drive it again. Market launch is April 2023, but the unveil of the production series G87 M2 will kick off in October 2022.
BMW M2 Prototype
BMW M2 Camouflaged