Not just the more performance-oriented member of the 2 Series family, the M2 is also the newest, having joined the lineup two years after the 2 Series became BMW's entry-level model in 2014.
On top of that, the M2 also serves as a gateway drug to BMW's sought-after M performance models and is among the most desirable of them for its combination of big power and a small footprint reminiscent of early versions of the vaunted M3.
Changes for 2018 include new LED headlights with LED accent lighting as standard, which are fitted in a front bumper specific to the M2 with large air intakes to give the car a more powerful look. The M2's front-end impact is perhaps rendered less dramatic this year by the more aggressive front end gained by lesser 2 Series models in this mid-cycle update.
The M2 may differ little in appearance from the standard 2 Series, but it benefits from a tweaked version of the 240i's turbocharged six-cylinder engine that endows the car with an extra 25 hp. That and the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission helps make the M2 the quickest 2 Series, naturally, with a claimed 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 4.3 seconds. The M2 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission; this is also the only 2 Series variant that cannot be optioned with all-wheel drive.
Other nods to this car's performance high-performance intentions include aluminum front and rear axles borrowed from the M3 and M4 to help reduce unsprung weight, forged 19-inch wheels, big brakes and an active differential.
In the sports car space, the M2 takes on cars like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and Audi RS 3, both of which actually outshine the BMW in terms of power output, but use small four-cylinder engines that deliver their power much differently than the M2's relatively large inline six. Those cars are also all-wheel drivers that begin their lives front-drive models, and while that endows them with more traction for putting power to pavement, it also makes the M2 stand out for steering feel untainted by the demands of dealing with torque.
Other additions shared with other 2 Series models include iDrive 6.0, displayed on a larger touchscreen that now incorporates tablet-like swipe functionality. New interior details include a slick black-panel gauge cluster, more brightwork and gloss-black trim, a new glovebox cover and redesigned centre console cupholders with a sliding cover.
Though not a particularly spacious car, the M2 is nonetheless made quite practical by rear seats with more headroom than the Benz AMG 45 and a big trunk. Nods to active safety include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and a backup camera.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed