The BMW M2 is easy to hate. It looks… really weird. And that’s being generous. It looks like a development prototype that BMW forgot to take the camouflage off before putting into production, particularly when parked next to last-generation’s M2, a quietly pretty and muscular machine that, itself was the closest BMW had come to perfection in about a decade.
Nevertheless, you can’t see it anymore once you’re inside it, and the interior, monster screen aside, has sporting intentions and the optional manual transmission to play with, something I’m thankful for.
I developed a ton of respect for BMW M’s traction and stability control division during this test, mainly by doing a few laps with it turned on, and then by doing some laps with it completely disabled. Once deactivated, the M2 is completely unhinged, more than willing to spin the tires through sweeping bends all the way into the top of fourth gear. It has way more power than grip. BMW says it makes 453 horsepower, but I would venture a guess that this is a “worst-case” figure, on the top of a mountain on a hot summer day. If it makes less than 500 in these cool, fall, NorCal conditions I’d be shocked.
The M2 is set up for oversteer all the time. Stand on the brakes and point the nose on entry? The back steps out. Roll back into the throttle approaching the apex? It steps out further. Medium fourth-gear bend over a crest? It steps out again. Fortunately, the stability control has a “stepped” setting, from full-on, incrementally to off, and even BMW’s Drift Analyzer to help you learn the craft reasonably safely.
It’s not perfect. The steering is sharp but numb, the shifter is leagues behind the Integra or Porsche 911’s, and the sound feels manufactured. But, it is unquestionably fast, sliding is always fun, and it is the best-driving BMW on the road today, bar none. That’s why it’s included in our 2024 Performance Car of the Year test.
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