Driven | BMW M2 Competition

We got behind the wheel of the regular BMW M2 back in 2016 and we concluded that the Audi RS3 would be the choice between the two but things no longer stand like this thanks to the updates in the M2 Competition.

Look there was nothing wrong with the ‘old’ M2 but this M2 Competition is the real baby Bavarian brawler. We like to think of it as a M2 with more M goodness.

Under the bulging bonnet of the M2 Competition lies a different engine to what hides under the regular M2 bonnet. It is still a 3.0-litre inline-six but now it is twin-turbocharged and has in fact been lifted out of its bigger M3 and M4 siblings. Yes it is slightly down on power developing 302 kW and 550 Nm of torque but that is a considerable increase from the old M2 that made 272 kW and 465 Nm of torque.

This unit is connected to BMW’s seven-speed DCT transmission sending all that grunt just to the rear wheels. This is enough to run to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds giving it a 0.1 second improvement over the older model. If you opt for the six-speed manual, your 100 km/h sprint time does increase slightly to 4.4 seconds but you will probably enjoy it a lot more (at least the purists will). That is not enough to justify the jump to the Competition we know but what makes this car better is a host of other things.

The first thing that slaps you in the face about the M2 Competition is how tough and muscular it looks thanks to the wide haunches and low-to-the-ground stance. This immediately promises performance and turns a lot of heads. The front bumper sports some rather prominent intakes (under which lurk bigger radiators for 20 percent more cooling) presents a menacing face and a reminder this is no ordinary 2 Series.

The sportiness continues inside the Bimmer. As standard, the sports seats finished in black Dakota leather with contrast blue stitching and are very comfortable and supportive. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, contrast stitched (red and blue) and chunky which feels brilliant when being gripped.

That back row is best reserved for people not much bigger than a four-year-old. Yes this is not a family car and we all know that but, if your daily needs to accommodate all shapes and sizes at the back then you will need to look elsewhere.

Right, so you hop in and push the bright red start-stop button which fires the M2 Competition to life with a fairly nasty bark when you start it in Sport Plus.

Driving around town is effortless but just like the old M2 you are not riding in comfort (even if you are in Comfort setting). There are no active dampers, instead a single suspension tune that must try to be all things for all occasions, and around town the ride is on the firm side of comfortable. It’s a compromise worth living with, though, because when the opportunity is there to really stretch the legs, the rewards are instant.

That firm ride in the city is pretty much perfect when pushing into a high-speed corner after high-speed corner and it feels properly planted. Yes, the rear is occasionally playful to remind you there is a lot of torque being sent to the rear wheels but it is not snap-happy. It is just playful-happy that is rather easily and safely countered.

Power delivery is glorious and the sound is rather infectious at high revs. It could be a little louder considering it is a boy racer but that can easily be fixed with an aftermarket exhaust system of sorts.

Exploring the limits of the M2 on a public road is not only illegal but also a bit dangerous so it is best left for the track if you ever get the opportunity. That does not mean you cannot have fun on the roads because a car this light with this much power is an absolute hoot to drive if you know what you are doing.

My test version of this pocket rocket was finished in a stunning colour exclusive to the M2 Competition, that BMW calls Hockenheim Silver Metallic. In spite of the name, it is actually more like a white-grey which is a rather popular colour trend in performance cars these days. The test car was fitted with the M double-clutch transmission which commands an R56,600 premium over the no-cost six-speed manual option and it is certainly the right choice if you plan to try set your fastest time around a circuit.

There are plenty of highlights in the list of standard equipment: adaptive LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch alloys specific to the Competition, an 8.8-inch iDrive 6 infotainment system with Navigation Pro, a premium 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and the Driving Assistance package that incorporates autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection.

The M2 Competition is a massive success for the BMW M Sport badge and what it means. It takes everything that was good and great about the original M2, and makes it better. If you don’t need to cart your family around, then this might just be the best M-car currently on offer.

PRO’s

  • Power and power delivery
  • Better dynamics from chassis and suspension tweaks
  • Styling and presence
  • Good standard specs

CON’s

  • Small back seats
  • A rather firm city ride
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