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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

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A blue 2024 BMW M2 Coupe is shown driving from a BMW M certified dealer.

The BMW M2 Coupe: The People’s Supercar

For over 50 years, the BMW M Series has brought racing-inspired performance to the streets. What started on the racetrack with the BMW Motorsport division became a way for the common person to experience the same power, precision, and thrills as the world’s best drivers from Circuit of the Americas to Silverstone.

You have many options when you head to a BMW M certified dealer looking for an M car. There’s the luxury sportiness of the M4 and the take-no-prisoners attitude of the M8 Competition Gran Coupe. You can enjoy motorsports tech in an SUV with an X5 M or check out the new lineup of all-electric M cars. You might even find classic models such as the pioneering BMW M5 or the BMW M Roadster.

Yet the smallest M series vehicle of them all manages to stand out among a pit area full of beasts. Now in its second incarnation, the BMW M2 Coupe sets itself apart as a high-performance car for people who want supersized thrills but don’t have a supersized budget. Furthermore, it shows that a high-performance car can also be practical for driving day-to-day. How did a car based on the entry-level BMW 2 Series land a place at the supercar table? Let’s examine the short but glorious history of the M2.

The Best of Both Worlds

BMW is no stranger to high-performance cars or daily drivers. The BMW 3.0 CSL won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 1973, the year after the BMW Motorsport Group was launched. They also have a long history of everyday cars, such as the 3 Series Compact (known in the US as the 318ti) and the 1 Series.

The development of the BMW M2 sought to merge these disparate worlds into a single vehicle that didn’t require shelling out six figures. When the M2 was first displayed publicly in early 2016, its designer, Hussein Al-Attar, said it was aimed at people who wanted a car they could use for their daily needs and then take the same car to the race track on the weekends. The M2 wasn’t a car for people who just wanted attention.

It sounds like a daunting task, but BMW pulled it off. After their initial test of the 2016 BMW M2, MotorTrend declared that “BMW has done something we didn’t think possible.” Packing a 365-horsepower turbocharged N55 engine and the same driveline as the famed M3 and M4, it could go toe to toe with the M4 in almost every performance measure at a lower price point. Not only that, but it gave the driver an amazing experience that connected them to the road. It was slightly shorter than the M4 to fit better into tight traffic, and the stiffer suspension offered responsiveness to feel road texture and place the vehicle where you wanted it. Whether as a “normal” car or a sports car, the original M2 delivered on BMW’s promises, all at a base price of just over $53,000.

A blue 2023 BMW M2 Coupe is shown from a front angle.

The Awards and the Rebirth

The awards soon rolled in left and right for the M2 Coupe. Here are just some of the accolades it racked up.

  • The Best New Design of 2016 in the auto motor und sport reader’s poll
  • One of the 2017 Car and Driver 10Best vehicles
  • The 2017 All-Stars Award from Automobile Magazine
  • The Best New Premium Sports/Performance Car from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada
  • The 2017 Sport Coupe of the Year Award from
  • The 2017 Best Car to Buy Award from Motor Authority

Finally, when the track-oriented BMW M2 CS debuted in 2020, it beat out seven other contenders from the world’s biggest supercar manufacturers to receive the evo Car of the Year Award, showing the M2 could muscle up with the best of them.

However, just one year later, BMW stopped producing the M2 Coupe. Was this the end already for their most accessible high-performance vehicle? As it turns out, no. They were just building up the suspense as they prepared for a bigger (literally), more powerful, and even hungrier version.

Photos and information about the second-generation BMW M2 began leaking in late 2022 before its official debut at the Essen Motor Show. Code-named the G87, it was again based on the BMW 2 Series and blew the doors off its competition. Finally released in early 2023, after the main 2 Series had been retooled, the M2 was back with a vengeance as the authoritative compact supercar.

The Latest BMW M2 Coupe

What exactly makes the new BMW M2 Coupe so desirable? Perhaps the best way to describe it is to borrow a phrase from BMW’s official announcement, which refers to the vehicle as “highly concentrated.” There are high-performance cars out there, even in the BMW lineup, with more horsepower, larger tires, and finer suspension tuning. But in terms of sheer enjoyment and thrills per cubic inch and per dollar, the M2 is number one.

Just look at some of the specifications on this punchy little machine. As part of the overhaul, the M2 received the same engine as its M3 and M4 big brothers. This 3.0L turbocharged I-6 S58 engine roars with 453 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, combined with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. In testing, the M2 automatic went from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, even faster than BMW’s claimed 0-60 time for the M4 Competition.

The wheelbase and overall length of the second-gen M2 are slightly larger than those of the first generation, but it’s still unmistakably a compact car. This small size, combined with the M series adaptive suspension and active rear differential, makes the M2 Coupe agile and fun. With 19-inch wheels in the front and 20-inch wheels in the rear, it has an aggressive stance for grabbing the road. You can even get the modern BMW M2 with a carbon fiber roof that reduces overall weight and lowers the center of gravity for even more stability.

When you add motorsports design touches such as the fast-stopping M-compound brakes, the frameless grill, and the powerful sound of the quad exhaust system, it offers an undeniable presence. BMW has maintained its commitment to the M2 as a “practical sports car” with comfortable seats, a 14.9-inch infotainment screen, and more cargo space than rival sports cars like the Ford Mustang coupe.

A close-up on the front wheel of a blue 2024 BMW M2 Coupe.

Be Super with Your Daily Driver

The BMW M2 Coupe is more than just a compromise for people who can’t afford the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens of the world. This is a legitimate supercar that you can take to the track or the office with equal aplomb.

With the 2023 revamp, the second-generation M2 has proven a worthy follow-up to the groundbreaking original. It was a finalist in the 2022 and 2023 MotorTrend Car of the Year awards, with MotorTrend writing that it “could be the best-driving vehicle built by BMW M.” The all-new BMW M2 Coupe was also the 2023 Auto Express Performance Car of the Year, the Car Expert 2024 Best Performance Car, and a finalist in the 2024 Motor Authority Best Car to Buy awards. Even with the added features and car price inflation, it still starts at just over $63,000, an absolute bargain compared to the cars it’s beating out in these showdowns.

Of course, the only way to truly understand the concentrated performance of the BMW M2 is to experience it for yourself. If you have the opportunity, head to your nearest BMW M Certified Dealer for a test drive and let us know what you think about “the people’s supercar.”

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