The M2 is arguably the most important and interesting car that has come from BMW in ages. Philosophically, it’s true to the classic M car philosophy, but it’s not a throwback. What we have is an enthusiast-focused, quasi-affordable car, a gift of sorts to the people that some say the brand has left behind. Our Sam Smith just drove the M2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and on the roads around Monterey. We’ll have a lot more coverage of the M2 coming soon, but here are 13 things you need to know about the latest BMW’s latest. – Ed.
1. This is an M car. But also not an M car. Start with the engine: The M2’s straight six is a single-turbo 3.0-liter designated N55. It’s the same basic engine that was used by the current 3-series before its 2016 face-lift as well as in the M235i. This means direct fuel injection, variable timing on both cams, and variable valve lift. The pistons are higher-compression units borrowed from the S55 in BMW’s M3 and M4; the crankshaft main bearing shells from that engine are also used here.
The power bump over an M235i is largely courtesy of a reprogramming that includes more turbocharger boost. There’s a new sump with an additional baffle, an extra oil-return pump to send oil to the back of the sump under heavy braking, and a special new oiling system for the turbocharger. This is what we’d call a heavy tune of the N55, not a rework. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but a twin-clutch seven-speed automatic is available for additional cost. Trim changes include alcantara door inserts, fattened fenders (2.1 inches wider in the front, 3.1 in the rear), and aerodynamic tweaks that provide a claimed 35-percent reduction in lift.