The new M2 is much more buttoned-down and composed on a less than perfect surface. The car's adaptive suspension dampers — something the old M2 lacked — is the big reason why. Although I couldn't discern a significant difference between the three suspension modes, even the firmest setting allowed the M2 to really dig into the pavement without being so easily distracted by crown, camber and bumps.
Power from the M2's engine is delivered linearly but that doesn't make acceleration any less eye-opening. It feels less wild than the M4 can at wide open throttle but the M2 is still capable of piling on the speed. This is a real gem on an engine, and it makes the M2 feel somehow both burly and refined simultaneously.
I didn't mess with the 10-mode stability control settings during my initial drive but the presets for Sport and Sport Plus modes seem pretty well set up for aggressive driving stints. My one complaint is the usual one for a modern BMW: the steering. It just doesn't provide much feedback, and that makes it tough to gauge how much traction the front tires have.
It's difficult to pinpoint which of the changes to this new generation of M2 has made the biggest difference to the way it goes down the road. The longer wheelbase could certainly help make it a bit more stable, and the new chassis with extra reinforcements above and beyond what the standard 2 Series offers might allow more compliant and sympathetic suspension tuning. The new car weighs about 200 pounds more than the old car, but it also delivers more speed and confidence than its predecessor. I'm all for it.