For decades, BMW's M cars have defined luxury sports cars. The formula was simple. Take an already strong vehicle platform and give it more power and better handling. It could be argued that over time some M cars have gotten a little soft. With the introduction of the M2 last year, however, the edge has been sharpened.
The 2017 BMW M2 packs 365 horsepower, compared to the base 228i's 240 hp and the already impressive M235i's 320 hp. Cornering prowess has been improved thanks to a wider footprint that accommodates fatter tires and more performance-oriented suspension tuning. The end result is one of the most engaging and entertaining cars you can buy.
All of this newfound athleticism does affect comfort somewhat, though. The ride is rather stiff and the road noise emanating from the sticky sport tires can sometimes be intrusive. None of these drawbacks are what we'd consider deal breakers, though, and for those special shoppers who place a greater emphasis on agility over luxury, it's a perfect match.
Naturally, the 2017 BMW M2 isn't the only choice in the class, and some of its closest competitors come from within BMW's own ranks. The similar M235i and more upmarket M4 both deliver potent performance with fewer sacrifices to comfort. The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 has an abundance of power, but it leans a bit more toward the luxury spectrum. Then there's the Audi TTS that combines agility with a more intriguing and modern design.
Standard safety features for the 2017 BMW M2 include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags for the front seats and full-length side curtain airbags. Optional equipment includes a rearview camera, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking.
Crash test results are not available for the M2, but the 2016 BMW 2 Series on which it is based received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest score of Good in the small-overlap and moderate-overlap front-impact crash tests as well as a Good score in the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
The 2017 BMW M2 is a four-passenger, two-door coupe that comes in a single, well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming driver and interior mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar), heated seats, driver memory settings, BMW's iDrive infotainment system, an 8.8-inch display screen, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio and a USB port.
The optional Executive package adds a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlight control, forward collision warning and mitigation, a lane departure warning system, a wireless charging pad, a Wi-Fi hot spot and speed limit information. The M Driver's package increases top speed from 155 mph to 168 mph and gives new owners a day of driving instruction at one of the BMW Performance Centers. Apple CarPlay is available as a stand-alone option.
Under the hood of the 2017 BMW M2 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that produces 365 hp and 343 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission that includes an automatic rev-matching feature for downshifts. Alternately, you can choose the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). BMW estimates the M2 will reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds with the DCT.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) for the manual and 22 mpg combined (20 city/26 highway) for the DCT.
Performance cars typically force drivers to sacrifice comfort and everyday drivability in the name of handling and engagement. The 2017 BMW M2 is no different. The suspension is on the stiff side, and road noise is ever-present, especially on coarse asphalt. Unlike on some other rival models, you can't get the M2 with an adaptive suspension.
None of these drawbacks should deter the core M2 audience, though. There's a torrent of power from just off idle all the way to redline, and the transmission ratios are well spaced to keep that power on tap. The engine and exhaust emit a burly growl at idle that grows to a mechanical howl as revs climb. It sounds great, and it's all real (some other M cars enhance it with synthesized noise through the speakers). The manual transmission isn't the easiest to operate smoothly, but you can always go with the excellent dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Handling is very responsive yet forgiving when pushed to (or just past) the limit. It's an excellent car for drivers who want to sharpen their skills and poses enough of a challenge for them to grow into it. Drivers of any skill level, however, will be able to appreciate how undeniably entertaining it is to drive on a racetrack or a winding mountain road.
Using BMW's 2 Series as a starting point, the M2's interior gets several upgrades. Materials quality is respectable for the entry-level luxury class, with appropriate padding for passenger comfort and well-grained but hard plastics everywhere else. The M2 dresses things up slightly with racy faux-suede inserts, blue contrasting stitching and the subtle use of "M" badges.
It takes a little effort to familiarize yourself with BMW's iDrive infotainment system, but overall it's pretty easy to use, and the large 8.8-inch display is notable for its crisp graphics. The addition of Apple CarPlay capability this year further enhances usability.
The front seats feature aggressive side bolstering for excellent support when cornering hard, but they remain fairly comfortable after several hours behind the wheel. As with the regular 2 Series, the rear seats are best for smaller passengers due to the low-mounted cushions and lack of headroom.
The M2's 13.8-cubic-foot cargo capacity is generous for the class, and the low, wide opening makes loading heavier objects easier. Remote seatback releases further simplify the loading of bulkier cargo. Interior storage is adequate, with moderately sized bins, pockets and cupholders.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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