April 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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2024 BMW M2 test – perhaps the last M car with a manual transmission

2024 BMW M2 test – perhaps the last M car with a manual transmission
Zoom in / The BMW M2 may be the last car M makes with three pedals and a transmission.

Peter Nelson

We are at an interesting crossroads in the high-performance enthusiast car market. Running from east to west is the adoption of electric vehicles and a slow decline in the production of internal combustion engine cars. North to south is the progression of ICE horsepower from the factory over the years, and it's unclear how far that progression continues from here. Coming in at the diagonal is weak demand for manual transmissions – and that's unfortunately where it ends.

In the middle of this intersection is the 2024 BMW M2 with the six-speed manual, its tail drooping in a massive, controllable drift around the edges, paying homage as BMW's latest target of internal-combustion M car affection.

I recently had the opportunity to drive BMW's newest and smallest M car through some of Southern California's most enjoyable mountain roads, as well as the Willow Springs International Raceway Streets of Willow. When it comes to figuring out the powertrain and chassis of this type of car quickly, I can't think of a better combination than pavement. Here's what makes the latest and final generation M2 equipped with a six-speed manual an overall excellent enthusiast coupe.

BMW gave the M2 a more muscular appearance than the regular 2 Series coupe.
Zoom in / BMW gave the M2 a more muscular appearance than the regular 2 Series coupe.

Peter Nelson

Focused from the inside out

Looks are subjective, especially BMW looks, but I think BMW did a good job with the M2's exterior. Its kidney grilles, headlights, fender flares, exhaust tips, and wide fender flares – especially in the rear quarter panels – are attractive. It's a muscular little coupe, and it certainly tells you its intentions with the huge intakes cut into its front fascia. Behind it is an air-to-water internal engine cooling heat exchanger (more on that in a bit), plus several other forms of water and oil cooling to ensure peak long-lasting performance, on all twisty roads and trails. -Duration of session. It's hard to mistake it for a basic Series 2.

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Inside, it's very spacious for a coupe and has great visibility all around. My test car included the $9,900 Carbon Package, which gets you comfortable near-bucket racing carbon fiber seats and a sleek carbon roof. I'm 6 feet 3 inches tall, so the lack of a sliding window on top was a godsend, and also allowed me to wear a helmet on the track without having to lie down, which is a rarity in modern cars. The seats are a bit painful to slide in and out of, and the left leg rest is pushed inward a little too much, hindering efficient and comfortable clutch action for my petite figure. I suspect not many people will have the same problem.

Tech-wise, the crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen take up a lot of space. BMW iDrive 8 is easy to get going, works very smoothly, and has good haptic feedback. Material quality is generally very good; All the buttons and dials feel large, and the Carbon package includes stylish carbon fiber panels instead of the boring old piano black plastic so common in modern high-performance cars.

Opinions vary when it comes to BMW's carbon seats.  It holds you in place well but can be difficult to get in and out of, and the hump between the driver's legs is polarizing.
Zoom in / Opinions vary when it comes to BMW's carbon seats. It holds you in place well but can be difficult to get in and out of, and the hump between the driver's legs is polarizing.

Peter Nelson