2023 BMW M2 new car reviews

Photography Courtesy BMW

By J.A. Ackley

The 2023 BMW M2 retails for $12,100 less than an M3. Plus, it has a faster zero to 60 time by two-tenths. And, with a wheelbase 4.4 inches shorter, the M2 should be much nimbler.

That seems good on paper, but how does the all-new 2023 BMW M2 actually perform?

Thankfully, we had the opportunity to find that out. We got to drive a BMW M2 from the old cowboy town of Prescott, Arizona, down curvy, mountain roads, through desert lands and into the urban sprawl of Phoenix. This provided the perfect opportunity to see if this M2 lives up to its expectations.

Youthful, Energetic Exterior

Before we even get into the car, let’s talk about how it looks. No, it doesn’t sport those big kidneys like the M3 and M4 do. But, that front fascia isn’t exactly the classic BMW that you’ve known and (probably) loved. So, what is BMW thinking?

The automaker seems to have two goals in mind.

First, BMW M execs stressed how they want to make their new models stand out among the rest of their line, contrary to some of the cars they produced in the past. You should be able to readily pick out an M2 among a crowd of M cars.

Mission accomplished. That’s certainly no problem.

Second, based on our conversations with BMW folks, we’re under the impression that they want this car to appeal to the first-time BMW M driver–one that is perhaps a bit younger than the average M driver. That could explain the body-kit-esque look of the vehicle, with the frameless grille and wheel flares.

Regardless of their reasons, the exterior design of BMW M2 attempts to strike a balance between the traditionalists and those looking for progressively different styling.

Surprisingly Spacious Interior

For a small car, it’s got plenty of room up front, even for this lanky six-foot-four-tall driver, both in headspace and legroom. The seats are firm, yet comfortable, even for the nearly four-hour-long trek we did in Arizona. As you haul the car through turns, the seats provide plenty of support.

In the back, you have rear seats for those who didn’t call shotgun quick enough. The M2 also has a fairly spacious trunk. Although it probably couldn’t fit multiple tires in there, it definitely has room enough for a spare tire and a toolbox, or groceries for a family of four.

While some long for the days of analog gauges, those days are gone. Sorry. The good news is BMW typically has one of the better driver-oriented interiors among manufacturers. From the driver’s seat, everything feels intuitive–the curved display, the button placement and the head-up display. In an age where there’s an overabundance of options presented to a driver, the M2 organizes them well.

As far as the manual version, we only got to spend 10 minutes with it. For the most part, the interior is exactly the same as its automatic counterpart. I did find that with my size 15 shoes, I had trouble pressing the clutch as the front of shoe kept hitting an interior piece before hitting the pedal.

In addition, the manual model we had also sported the optional M Carbon bucket seats. These are essentially lightweight racing seats, so expect the comfort to match their purpose, as they’re not built for cruising, but instead for throwing it into corners.

Does it Drive Like an M Car?

With the way today’s M3 and M4 drive and sound, they often remind me of a muscle car, albeit one with German engineering and without a forced, sentimental nod to a baby boomer’s formative years. The M2 aims to be more of a modern-day hot compact.

Power-wise, the M2 simply excels. The turbocharged inline-six puts out 453 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. It delivers plenty of go on demand, with a super-satisfying throaty exhaust note. The eight-speed Steptronic automatic readily finds the right gear to deliver that power, too. It’s exactly what you would expect from an M car. Yet, the powertrain seems just as fit for daily driving as for the track.

Handling-wise, the M2 felt quite different than the M3 and M4. Some of that is to be expected. It’s certainly a tad nimbler than the longer M3, but the way the car moves its weight around turns isn’t the same either. The automatic M2 weighs just 23 pounds less than the automatic M3 (i.e. M3 Competition).

However, the M2 sports stiffer suspension up front and softer in the rear. On highway roads we never felt the front dive into a corner–the car kept its horizontal posture. Some drivers might prefer that go-kart-esque type of feel. With a stiffer setup, it also might be better for cornering at higher speeds, where the suspension experiences greater loads. Regardless, it’s certainly a different feel for those accustomed to BMW’s other M cars.

Is this the M car for You?

BMW’s M department offers a little of something for everyone, so who does the M2 appeal to? It’s the lowest-priced M car at $62,200. And, it packs an incredible amount of performance in a compact package, offering a great value.

If you’re looking for a comfortable car to drive daily and track once in a while, you might want to consider the M2 as one of your options. Based on what we experienced on our drive, it should serve both those needs well.

One of our forum members recently asked how the M2 compares to a Toyota GR Supra. This may be more of a fair comparison than you might think. Let me explain.

The powertrain in the Supra comes from BMW, yet, the inline-six in the Toyota only offers 382 horsepower–71 horses less than an M2.

For a big guy like this reviewer, it takes a bit of gymnastics to get in and out of the Supra, but once you’re in, it’s quite spacious. You can get into an M2 without much ado.

We won’t touch on styling, as both the Supra and M2 have generated polarizing opinions.

The top-of-the-line GR Supra 3.0 Premium retails for $56,150, $6000 less than the M2.

But, the real question is how would the Supra compare with an M2 on the track?

Good question.

Comparing automatic to automatic versions, the Supra weighs 467 pounds less than the M2. That’s a big number.

Yet, they boast the same zero to 60 numbers of 3.9 seconds.

The jury may be out on this one until we can get the BMW M2 to our test track, the FIRM, to find out. The GR Supra currently ranks in our all-time top five for lap times. The M2 might give it a run for its money. Consider this story “to be continued.”

[The Grassroots Motorsports ultimate guide to track car lap times]

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Comments
Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/2/23 9:43 p.m.

Do box flares make this look better?

And why does it look like it is missing the lower grill?

eastsideTim
eastsideTim UltimaDork
4/2/23 10:11 p.m.

I think this is the first sub-3 series BMW that I've liked the looks of (excepting Z models).  It helps that they toned down the kidney grill a bit from their recent ridiculousness.  I actually found myself looking to see if any local dealers had an allocation and what options they'd have, and at least one does. Not sure they'd sell it at MSRP, though.
 

I am wondering if this will be like the 1M, and just not depreciate, especially if it ends up being one of the last manual transmission M cars.

SupraFiend
SupraFiend New Reader
4/3/23 1:47 a.m.

The Supra should clobber it on a racetrack. I can't belive a 2 series weighs over 3800lbs! This thing is supposed to be small, but weighs about the same as recent v8 mustangs.

The new car bloat continues. They already had to come up with the 1 series when the 3 got too fat, guess its time for a -1 Series?

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/3/23 8:39 a.m.

Another fat heavy turd German-engineered to almost 3,900 lbs. At least this one's styling isn't quite as bad as the M3/M4.

TGMF
TGMF HalfDork
4/3/23 8:47 a.m.

I really dig the look. The box flares do it for me, as does the far more restrained grille size up front. 

To me, from the side it looks kind of like a shortened R34 GTR? Am I crazy? 

dps214
dps214 SuperDork
4/3/23 9:48 a.m.
eastsideTim said:

I am wondering if this will be like the 1M, and just not depreciate, especially if it ends up being one of the last manual transmission M cars.

Not unless they also only build 700 M2s.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
4/3/23 9:55 a.m.

Doesn't look as hideous as the M3/4 but I still wouldn't call it a good looking car.  While it might be the best of the M bunch currently, I can't see putting that thing in my garage.  Still too ugly.

The_Lost_Miata
The_Lost_Miata
4/3/23 10:56 a.m.

You’d think something that heavy and with that many herspowers it would have brakes!

Brakes:

None (front)
None (rear)

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/3/23 11:09 a.m.

In reply to The_Lost_Miata :

No wonder we had a hard time in the corners! wink

Thank you for catching that.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/3/23 11:14 a.m.

I love that "less ugly" is the best we can say for BMW models these days. 

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