IAIN ROBERTSON

Despite the intentional allure introduced by a ‘Competition’ tagged version of BMW’s 2-Series coupe model, Iain Robertson recommends caution, rather than exuberance, because the German car firm is notorious for refusing warranty claims.

Before launching into a technological diatribe about a junior-league supercar that I am sure will entice and generate momentous responses from car enthusiasts everywhere (almost), I have to say that the new BMW ‘signature’ radiator grille plastered across the M2 Competition’s snout is starting to look even closer to Kia’s ‘Tiger’s Nose’ grille outline. Could BMW be worried about the South Korean onslaught?

Regardless, having seldom indulged in on-track antics, thrillingly enjoyable though they might be, even when offered, as a means to test the limits of some motorcars, they do possess a smattering of merits. Yet, as so few of us indulge in track days and their like, my concentration of effort has always been directed to on-road practices. If you want to read what Mr Porter says (he of Top Gear Script-writing infamy), then log onto ‘sniffpetrol.com’…his comments about my erstwhile colleagues in this business are not far from the truth.

However, BMW almost begs for the ridicule, not least because, were you to enrol your car and self on a track day, you might find, quite justifiably, that its warranty would be invalidated, should any element of its almighty techno-fest become corrupted, or damaged, in any way. Yet, the M-car arena is one centred on engineering excellence and exuberance, thus a hope exists that component failure might not be in prospect. If you are not technically-inclined, then I advise that you enjoy the pictures but switch-off now, as I am about to delve into what makes up an M2 Competition.

Powered by BMW’s luscious 3.0-litre bi-turbo-petrol, six-cylinder engine, a virtual transplant of the M4 power unit into the marginally lighter and more agile 2-Series coupe body, it develops a whopping 406bhp between 5,250 and 7,000rpm and a deep well of 405lbs ft of torque, between 2,350 and 5,200rpm. This enough to whisk an M2 Competition (to provide its new model suffix) from 0-60mph in a blistering 3.9s, before scorching on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph (170mph, with M Driver’s Package). Dependent on whether a six-speed manual, or the optional and more efficient 7-speed twin-clutch transmission is deployed, the posted fuel economy could be up to 30.7mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 205g/km, you can check on road tax implications for yourself but they will be steep, for at least the first five years of ownership/operation.

Featuring a ‘closed deck’ design, the crankcase rigidity is optimised, while the cylinder bores incorporate thin metal technology for enhanced efficiency. Maintaining consistent levels of oil supply was a particular challenge for BMW’s engineers, but their solution arrived in the form of an additional oil sump cover that limits the movement of lubricants, when the car changes direction suddenly. Under extreme acceleration and deceleration, an oil extraction pump and a sophisticated oil return system, situated close to the turbocharger, also help to maintain uninterrupted oil circulation.

The M2 Competition features a range of measures designed to deal with increased cooling requirements. An enlarged BMW ‘double-kidney’ grille and a new front skirt with modified air stream improve the flow at the front of the car. It also uses the race-tested cooling system of the BMW M4, consisting of one central radiator, two side radiators and an additional engine oil cooler. Cars using the seven-speed M-DCT gearbox also benefit from a transmission oil cooler.

A completely new, dual-branch exhaust system features four tailpipes, finished in black chrome. Two electronically-controlled ‘flaps’ ensure that the M2 delivers the distinctive BMW M Sound, which the driver can adjust by selecting a driving mode on the M Dynamic Performance Control in the centre console. Agility, driving feel, directional stability, steering precision and controllability, without short-changing the driver in everyday use, are all surgically precise and adjustable. M-cars are truly a bit special in this respect.

Beneath the bonnet is a high-precision cross-brace, made from extremely light, yet resilient carbon fibre that weighs around 1.5 kg. Together with the bulkhead strut from the M4 model, it increases front section rigidity significantly, which further improves steering responses and precision, factors that are highlighted, when you test a regular model back-to-back with the M version. Drawing from the lightweight aluminium construction of the front and rear axles of the BMW M3/M4, to ensure precise wheel location, play-free ball-joints are used to transmit transverse forces. Longitudinal energy passing through the chassis is directed into the torque struts via elastomer bearings.

All the control arms and hubs of the new five-link rear axle are made from forged aluminium. In addition, a race-derived rigid connection, dispensing with rubber bushes, is used to fix the lightweight steel grid-type rear subframe to the body. This further improves wheel location and tracking stability. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) has been completely recalibrated for the M2. The electronics provide delicate control, improved traction in wet and slippery conditions and they assist, rather than arrest, driver enthusiasm, so, if you want to spin-up the rear tyres and flick the tail out on demand, you can. The Active M Differential is a multi-plate limited-slip device that takes traction and directional stability to new levels of precision and speed. The locking effect can be varied between zero and 100 per cent according to the driving situation and reacts to the car’s steering angle, accelerator position, brake pressure, engine torque, wheel speed and, notably, the yaw rate.

High-performance brakes provide maximum stopping power, with brake calipers (6-pot front; 4-pot rear) painted blue metallic and perforated inner-vented brake discs (front: 400mm in diameter; rear: 380mm in diameter), and excellent deceleration in all conditions is guaranteed and they are both fade and heat resistant. Y-Spoke 19-inch forged alloy wheels (front axle: 9J x 19, rear axle: 10J x 19) are also available optionally (and expensively) in Jet Black.

Internally, the dashboard is laid out ergonomically, in typical BMW-style, while a red start-stop button hints at a motorsport heritage and the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel also provide direct access to the range of driving modes. Drivers’ personal configurations can be selected for stability control, engine characteristics and steering at their fingertips. Both M1 and M2 steering wheel buttons are pre-programmed with a Comfort and a Sport program as standard and drivers can return to those settings at any time.

The evolution from M2 Coupé to M2 Competition also sees a few additional upgrades. Park Distance Control (PDC) monitors the car’s surroundings both in front of the car, as well as to the rear. The Professional Navigation offers an ultra-sharp map display and the iDrive Touch Controller ensures the various functions are even easier to use. The high-back, wrap-around seats, based on lightweight competition buckets, are fabulous, providing unerring spinal support and a comfortable seat base for high-mileage comfort and short-mileage handling characteristics They feature an illuminated M-Sport logo for extra ‘bling’.

Conclusion:   Incorporating the now customary plethora of safety and connectivity elements, the stated list price of £49,285 for the M2 Competition looks like a conspicuous bargain in the BMW high-performance stakes. Impeccably well-built and detailed, this intriguing little coupe is sure to become an attention-grabber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).