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2023 BMW M2 Review

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After skipping the 2022 model year, the BMW M2 roars back for 2023. Based on the second-generation BMW 2 Series Coupe, which was all-new for the 2022 model year, the 2023 M2 offers big performance in a tidy package.

The M2 is the smallest and least expensive offering in BMW’s M sub-brand portfolio, with prices that stretch from the low $60,000s (for the M2) to nearly $150,000 (if your taste turns to the M8 Competition Convertible). The M2 utilizes a sizable amount of go-fast powertrain and chassis hardware from the larger BMW M3 and M4 models.

Please don’t confuse the M2 and its 230i and M240i 2 Series Coupe siblings with the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. The M2, 230i, and M240i are true 2-door coupes with 2+2 seating, longitudinally mounted 4- or 6-cylinder engines shared with the 3 Series and 4 Series BMWs, and rear- or all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations. The 2 Series Gran Coupe, on the other hand, is a 4-door coupe that’s more like a sedan, with seating for five, a transverse-mounted 4-cylinder engine, a front- or AWD powertrain, and a platform shared with the Mini brand.

For 2023, the M2 comes in a single, well-equipped trim priced at $62,200. The destination charge adds another $995.

Standard equipment on the 2023 BMW M2 includes the following:

  • 453-horsepower, twin-turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • M Sport differential with rear-wheel torque vectoring
  • Adaptive M suspension damping
  • 10-position adjustable traction control
  • Brake-by-wire Dynamic Brake Control
  • Staggered-size 275/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR20 rear summer performance tires
  • New-generation iDrive 8 infotainment interface
  • Configurable digital driver display
  • Driver-assistance systems consisting of adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and front and rear park distance control

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe. This review focuses on the new M2 Coupe, the 2 Series Coupe’s updates for 2023, and how they potentially impact its overall consumer appeal.

What Owners Say About the BMW 2 Series

The BMW 2 Series competes in the Small Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2022 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 72 percent of new BMW 2 Series buyers are male (vs. 58 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new 2 Series buyer is 54 years (vs. 50).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the 2 Series in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences, from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Powertrain
  • Driving feel
  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Setting up and starting
  • Interior design
  • Infotainment
  • Driving comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Getting in and out

What Our Independent Expert Says About the BMW M2

In the following sections, our independent expert analyzes a 2023 BMW M2 equipped with the following options:

  • Carbon package (M Carbon roof, M Carbon bucket seats, carbon fiber trim, 19-inch front/20-inch rear M light alloy bi-color wheels, M Driver’s package
  • Adaptive full LED lights
  • Live Cockpit Professional with head-up display
  • Shadowline package (M Shadowline lights, black exhaust tips)
  • BMW M 50-Year emblems

The test vehicle’s price was $75,345, including the $995 destination charge.

Track-ready Engine

The M2’s S58 twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine is a slightly detuned version of the one that powers the BMW M3 and M4. In the M2, it produces 453 hp at 6,250 rpm—48 hp more than offered in the previous-generation 2021 model. Peak torque is a stout 406 pound-feet, developed over a broad engine speed range from 2,650 to 5,870 rpm. The silky six revs to a lofty 7,200 rpm. I never tire of the melodic exhaust note trumpeting from the M2’s quad exhaust, either.

Unlike other 2 Series Coupe models, the M2 Coupe teams with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. An 8-speed automatic is optional.

I found the 6-speed manual shifter to have pleasingly light action and short throws between gates. The clutch pedal effort is moderate. It’s easy to be quick and smooth moving the shifter between gears. A Gear Shift Assistant feature automatically rev matches the engine speed to the ratio selected on downshifts to help prevent upsetting the car’s balance. If desired, you can deactivate this feature in the M Setup menu.

Acceleration is brisk, and the M2 always feels lively regardless of the gear selected. According to BMW, the M2 can squirt from rest to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds if equipped with the 8-speed automatic and 4.2 seconds with the 6-speed manual. In my opinion, the ability to engage more directly with the manual-equipped M2 is preferable to the less-involving automatic, even if the manual car is a few fractions of a second slower to the 60-mph mark. Besides, what car lover doesn’t enjoy the satisfaction and analog simplicity of a well-executed manual shift?

M Carbon Bucket Seats

During my test drive of the new M2, its optional M Carbon bucket seats proved to be iron maiden thrones, akin to HANS devices for your hips that keep your body planted during track use. But their tall, unyielding thigh-support wings are intrusive during ingress and egress, and overall, the rigid seats make anything longer than short hops uncomfortable. Also, keep in mind that the M Carbon front passenger seat has the same stiff bolsters as the driver’s seat. Unlike the performance seats in some other cars, these are heated and power-adjustable.

The M2’s standard heated, power-adjustable, and leather-covered front bucket seats—also well bolstered and with excellent lateral support for hips, thighs, and lower torso—offer more padding for tender parts of your body and are what I’d recommend for an M2 intended for daily use. They offer power-adjustable side bolsters, as well.

As with other sporty coupes with 2+2 seating, the M2’s rear perches aren’t suitable for adult use. Rear-seat legroom is skimpy, and climbing in and out of the back seat is an athletic exercise. The M2’s two rear seats are best used as package shelves for items you don’t want to carry in the reasonably sized 13.8 cubic-foot trunk or, in a pinch, spots to stash pets or kids in safety seats. The rear seatbacks fold down, creating a space for carrying long items in the car that would otherwise not fit in the trunk.

Live Cockpit Plus Curved Dash Display with iDrive 8

The 2023 BMW M2 moves to a new Live Cockpit Plus dash display. Its elements are a 12.3-inch configurable driver display and a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen. The two screens butt end to end on the instrument panel, forming a colorful and dramatic digital wall of information and interaction. The screens are curved ever so slightly to face the driver.

The infotainment system adopts the latest iDrive 8 operating system software. In addition to offering faster response than previous versions, it now includes an updated BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant function, bringing enhanced voice recognition that works with natural speech. During my brief drive in the M2, I used it to adjust the temperature of the standard dual-zone automatic climate control system and first lower, then raise, the driver-side window.

The system quickly and easily paired my Samsung phone and asked if I wanted to activate Android Auto smartphone mirroring, which is wireless, along with access to Apple CarPlay.

Live Cockpit Plus includes the continuously updated BMW Maps cloud navigation with the latest traffic information and fastest route calculation. It also enables 5G connectivity with a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot for up to 10 devices.

Although the iDrive 8 system has increased user interaction via touchscreen and voice control, it retains the console-mounted iDrive controller and physical analog volume and tuning controls on the dash and right steering-wheel spoke. A wireless phone charger is optional, as is a head-up display with M-specific content.

Standard M Drive Professional with Drift Analyzer and Traction Control with 10 Settings

The new BMW M2 reserves some of its most interesting technology for track-day outings. That includes standard M Drive Professional, which features a function that can scale back traction control in 10 stages to allow progressively larger rear-wheel slip angles for controlled drifts. Also in the “don’t try this on the street” category is the M Drift Analyzer, which allows track-day users to relive the glory of tail-out slides and hone the counter steering, angle, and distance of each drift.

For the everyday drive, there’s a lot of dynamic adjustability built into the new M2 as well. Using the Setup button on the center console, the driver can adjust the effort and response of the M Servotronic steering, Adaptive M suspension, and Dynamic Brake Control.

Independent Expert Opinion

The 2023 BMW M2 is arguably the polar opposite of an autonomous driving car. Forgetting its racetrack-friendly hardware and software for a moment, the M2 invites the driver to engage with it in the driving experience, whether that’s the daily commute or a weekend blast down a favorite stretch of twisty road. The M2 comes out of the box loaded with many desirable standard features, and there are some useful options, such as a head-up display and a wireless charger. But unless you’re planning frequent track sessions in the M2, I’d pass on the expensive ($9,900) Carbon package. In addition to nifty-looking carbon-fiber trim accents, a lightweight carbon-fiber roof, and an M Driver’s package that raises the theoretical, chip-limited terminal velocity from 155 to 177 mph, the Carbon package saddles the M2 with unyielding, hard-as-a-rock carbon-fiber front bucket seats that will still be hard as a rock once the novelty wears off.

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