The 2023 BMW M2 Shakes Off Conservative Design, Retains Driver-Oriented Focus
The all-new 2023 BMW M2 has officially been unveiled, breaking with tradition and injecting a whole lot of shock and awe into what was once a restrained mold for the performance coupe.
However, with a 453-hp TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, and a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 8-speed automatic transmission, there may be just enough tasty ingredients to overlook the marmite design. Built exclusively at BMW’s plant in Mexico for the whole world, prices for the new M2 will start in the States at an MSRP of $62,200 plus a destination and handling charge of $995.
That Styling Though
Yes, let’s start with the elephant in the room; no matter what way you slice it, the new M2 is not what you’d call handsome. It bucks the trend that has existed since the 1M of having just enough muscular definition hidden under a tailored-shirt-like silhouette, instead sporting the equivalent of a tank top that will have onlookers questioning whether those guns are normal or “enhanced.” Luckily for the M2, it has the power to back up the image.
Like other M cars before it, the new M2 sports a completely revised front end featuring wide frameless grilles that are squared off in the upper corners and taper down toward the bottom for a softer shape. The kidneys actually look restrained compared to the inlets on either side of the front bumper — chasms of blocky air intake that staddle another monolithic cutout in the center.
But while the front may look like it’s been chiseled out of slab-sided cement rather than sympathetically sculpted, the rear end has as many conflicting surfaces and edges that it mimics a design from BMW’s Bangle era (or a dumbbell if you use your imagination). The diffuser is pronounced, with four inboard-mounted tailpipes signaling intent. There’s a rear lip spoiler, and the reflectors are mounted vertically, inset in a squarish enclosure.
Function Over Form?
Of course, while the design may be a bit OTT, a lot of it is functional. The intakes up front are said to be optimized for cooling of the powertrain and brakes. The aft apron, combined with the spoiler, generates real downforce for the rear axle. There’s an optional carbon fiber roof too, while the muscular fenders allow for a wider track than the standard car.
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In terms of size, the 2023 BMW measures 180.3 inches (4,580 mm) long, 74.3 inches (1,887 mm) wide, and 55.2 inches (1,402 mm) tall. It’s about 2 inches (50mm) wider than the standard 2-Series Coupe and 4.1 inches (104 mm) longer than its predecessor, 1.3 inches (33 mm) wider, and 0.3 inches (7.6 mm) lower. The sports coupe tips the scales at 3,814 lbs (1,730 kg) in manual guise or 3,867 lbs (1,754 kg) with an automatic.
Sneaking in under the arches are staggered M light-alloy wheels —19 inches at the front shod in 275/35 ZR19 tires and 20 inches with 285/30 ZR20 at the rear. The double-spoke design is finished in jet black as standard or can be offered in bi-color at no added cost.
BMW Sticks To A Six
In a world that is rapidly moving towards electrification and reducing the number of cylinders in their remaining ICE products, the 2023 BMW M2 retains a 3.0-liter inline-six – no downsizing here, and no hybrid assistance either.
The S58 TwinPower turbo engine develops a healthy 453 hp (343 kW / 459 PS) at 6,250 rpm, and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque is delivered between 2,650–5,870 rpm, while redline is at 7,200 rpm. That’s a big gain on the outgoing car’s output, which stood at 410 hp (310 kW / 416 PS) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm).
More good news for the purists will be that the M2 remains a driver-oriented platform. That means there’s no all-wheel drive to be found — power is sent to the rear axle. A six-speed manual box with switchable rev-matching will come as standard for the U.S. market. Meanwhile, an 8-speed slushbox will also be an option, with variable shift modes.
M2s fitted with the manual box will accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 4.1 seconds, while the eight-speed auto is marginally quicker, making the same sprint in 3.9 seconds. The M2 will go on to a limited top speed of 155 mph (248 km/h) or — if optioned with the M Driver’s Package — 177 mph (283 km/h).
Change Your Brake Feel On The Go
The second-generation M2 prioritizes the customization of the driving experience as standard. The automatic gearbox offers three different modes, while the standard Servotronic steering (BMW-speak for speed-variable) can be switched between Comfort and Sport.
Electromagnetically controlled adaptive suspension is standard, with the suspension being yet another parameter that can be changed in the settings, while the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) can be set to “M Dynamic Mode,” which allows for greater wheel slip.
The DSC function has been integrated within the engine management itself rather than being a separate unit. In layman’s terms, this means quicker and more precise responses – up to ten times faster, says BMW.
Meanwhile, users can tweak the brake feel to what they want, all within the M Setup menu. It sounds complicated, but the broad strokes are that two modes can be selected; one for comfort-oriented driving and another for a more direct application, ideal for trackdays.
Designed For The Track
While whether a car is designed for track use or not can get tricky for some manufacturers (just ask Toyota how that one can backfire), but the 2023 BMW M2 offers drivers a range of goodies designed to be unleashed on a closed circuit — and goes further than just the lap timer.
M Drive Professional is fitted to the 2023 M2 as standard. What that gets you is an incredibly addictive drift analyzer and 10-position M Traction Control, allowing you to dial back the digital nannies and get the tail out as and when needed. To simplify matters further, the control panel features an M Mode button. While Sport scales things back, Track mode fully deactivates the assistance systems.
There’s an Active M Differential that can send lock up to 100 percent, and the S58 lump under the hood also features some extreme-use-friendly additions. Those large aprons up front feed it fresh air, while the cooling and oil supply systems are said to be track-spec. The oil sump features two separate chambers and an additional suction stage that allows the map-controlled oil pump to keep lubricant flowing reliably even under high lateral and longitudinal acceleration loads.
Carbon Seats Meet iDrive 8
The M2 has two options for the front seats. The first is electrically-adjustable leather M Sport seats. But for those who want something more track-ready (or for those extra brownie points when you show it off to a mate), the M Carbon bucket seats will likely tickle your fancy.
While the M Carbon seats are described by BMW as track-ready and do shave 24 lbs off the M Sport chairs, don’t think they’re as light as they could be. Perhaps understanding the consumer, the M Carbon seats retain electric adjustability, are heated, and even go so far as to include illuminated M2 badges on them.
The carbon theme can be extended further with the interior trim, steering wheel, and shift paddles (on the automatics), all spec-able in the material.
The M2’s cabin features BMW’s latest iDrive 8 software, featuring a 12.3-inch information display and a 14.9-inch curved control display. BMW Maps navigation is included as standard, but if you want the M-specific head-up display, you’ll have to spring extra. Other options include wireless charging, Personal eSIM 5G, and a heated steering wheel, among others.
Pricing, Availability, And Competition
The 2023MY M2 will be produced exclusively at BMW’s San Luis Potosí plant in Mexico, with a global launch confirmed for April 2023. In the United States, pricing will start at an MSRP of $62,200 plus $995 destination and handling.
That puts it close to a base-spec Porsche 718 Cayman, which starts from $63,400 — albeit with a punier 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with about 150 fewer horses under the hood.
Closer in terms of performance is Audi’s RS3 Sedan, which pumps out 401 HP (299 kW) and 359 lb-ft (500 Nm) from a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, features all-wheel drive, and gets to 60 mph (96 km/h) 0.3 seconds quicker. It undercuts the M2, too, starting at an MSRP of $60,095, and that includes the destination charge.
Even more surprising is that despite the additional Quattro gubbins, the RS3 is actually lighter than the M2, with a curb weight of 3,649 lbs (1,655 kg) vs the BMW’s 3,814 lbs (1,730 kg) in manual guise.
So, while the second-generation M2 continues to remain a driver-oriented creation, would you want one? Is the styling your cup of tea, or would you look past that to sample what is likely the last non-electrified M2? Let us know in the comments.