If I could write this review in 140 characters or less, the above title would suffice. If you want to skip the whole review for now, leave me here: the new 2023 BMW M2 is the best M car today. Period of time. Now if you want to know why, continue below. A few weeks ago I got on a plane to Berlin to test the BMW iX M60. But that was just the teaser for what was to come. Days later and a long stretch of Autobahn takes me to Austria’s famous Salzburgring.
Two M2 prototype models to follow
The reason for my quick pit stop? A day with the upcoming 2023 BMW M2. As we’ve seen with other new BMW products, the Bavarians are happy to give access to the testing of some of their cars in pre-production form. Even though the cars are close to production form, BMW engineers are still looking to collect unbiased feedback from outsiders. Journalists in this case. And of course, they’re also happy to share some well-kept secrets over the years.
But there were not many secrets when it comes to the G87 BMW M2 generation. Many early leaks and insider information revealed a plethora of technical details. Things like the S58 engine, six-speed manual transmission or carbon bucket seats have been part of our G87 M2 coverage for almost two years now. Still, there were many more things to discover, including the driving experience.
A wet track is waiting for me and that can be a challenge, especially as I’m behind a new car and driving on a track I’ve never followed before. The front car takes us through a few reconnaissance laps before I can unleash the full power of the G87 BMW M2. First and foremost, the new M2 draws most of its technology 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 the current M2
The G87 M2 has a shorter wheelbase than the M4 (4.3 in / 110 mm), but has the same track width at the front and rear. But much bigger than the normal 2 Series – about 2.2 inches wider (54mm). BMW used the same tires and wheels from the M4 – 19 inch front with 275/35 mm tires and 20 inch rear 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.
The weight of the car is not yet known. But the rumor placed it somewhere between the current F87 M2 and the G82 M4. No surprises there either.
The braking system has also been adopted from the M3/M4, but BMW M does not plan 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, head of engineering BMW M, apart from confirmation BMW Individual colors for the new M2, but I have a feeling that option will be available in the future.
450 hp, two transmission choices
The two prototypes each delivered about 450 horsepower regardless of transmission choice. Speaking of the gearboxes – no surprises there, a six-speed manual (the last of its kind) and an eight-speed automatic. Of course, the gearboxes come with software tuning specific to the M2’s handling characteristics. Power is sent only to the rear wheels and there is no M xDrive system.
The M adaptive suspension is standard in the new 2023 BMW M2, just as they were on the F87 M2 CS. The cooling system, not overwhelming, also comes from the M3/M4.
A lot of work has also been done on the wheelhouse. BMW says they wanted to give the M2 a more agile handling characteristic than in the M3 and M4. However, it uses the same steering rack, but software tuned to the G87 M2. I’m also happy to report that rev tuning can be turned off independent of the car’s other features.
Curved display, iDrive 8, carbon bucket seats
Inside, the 2023 BMW M2 retains the driver-focused layout, while getting the large curved display of 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 a sort of cocoon around me. While I’m not a fan of the same seats in the other M cars, I would definitely buy them for the M2.
It would not be an M-car without extra technology 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 differential lock also comes with a specific tune that improves the handling and driving dynamics of the 2023 M2. And gives you some more tail spin.
The nicest M car on the track
Now it’s time to finally share my driving impressions. Let me start with this. It’s been a long time since I was this excited about a new BMW. Yes, I’ve driven 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 on the new M2, but ultimately this is a fantastic piece of engineering that will go down in history as one of the best driving BMWs.
And keep in mind that with both prototypes I only had about 10-12 laps on the track, which meant I could barely get to the surface when it comes to pushing the cars. Throw this new “Baby-M” into the hands of a professional driver and that deposit will disappear from your bank account in an instant.
Thanks to its smaller but wider track, the 2023 BMW M2 feels more agile and lighter than the current M4. The front springs are quite stiff, bite more at the front and stick the car to the asphalt. I also feel the softer dampers in the rear, which helps with the oversteer that you can 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 spaced far apart. So you can have your daily driver in Comfort and your weekend job weapon in Sport+.
Download the six-speed manual transmission
The Sport and Sport+ modes are what I used most on the track, and they perform excellently in tight corners, and especially when going over the curbs of the track. The M2 remains well planted, with plenty of grip, despite the fairly wet track. Turn-ins are sharp, there’s 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 ride on the track while more comfortable for day-to-day driving. But, of course, it’s the six-speed manual that every purist should buy. First, it is definitely the last of its kind in a BMW M2. Or maybe in any M car. There is no getting around that with the next M cars that will be plug-in hybrids or fully electric. Second, the manual transmission just goes perfectly with the smaller size of the M2.
Like the BMW 1M, or even the outgoing F87 M2, rowing your own gears makes these cars even more special. The rev matching can be annoying, but luckily you can turn it off. In my case, I found it quite useful on the track, while providing a more engaging driving experience.
The M2 prototypes were even more fun to throw around when I unbolted the traction nannies. The rear 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 I tried to drift it off a bit. I blamed that slide on the wet track.
Steering wheel feedback and response are quite important in this segment, and especially for M2 customers. While the electrical controls will never match the mechanical unit in the 1M, the upgrade over the current F87 M2 is obvious. It has a nice weight to it with a good sense of track feedback coming through. It’s also quite accurate, 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 bigger and heavier M4.
Unfortunately BMW said no to my request for a 0 to 60 mph time. And that’s understandable as 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, at under 4.0 seconds.
Speaking of CS models and other variants, not a word about the new M2 naming convention. But our own sources say the new “Baby-M” will hit the market with only the M2 badge. It’s unclear if there will be room for an M2 competition or if 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 makes it happen
By now you may have glimpsed my enthusiasm around this new BMW M2. This is a modern M car with all the power and performance one needs. The design may be controversial, but once you get behind the wheel, that worry will disappear. Ultimately, we should all cherish these sports cars. Times are changing and design or rosters will be our least concern in the future. So if money isn’t an issue, there’s little reason why the new BMW M2 shouldn’t be in your garage.
It’s an exciting little track weapon and I can’t wait to get back into it. The market launch is in April 2023, but the unveiling of the production series G87 M2 will start in October 2022.
BMW M2 prototype
BMW M2 camouflaged