“We think to get the right feeling for the car, and the right BMW M feeling, you need a very good balance of lateral and longitudinal performance … so we take a look at the weight-to-power ratio to get overall the best performance.” – Dirk Hacker, Head of BMW M Division
Constructed in 1929, and winding through the protected San Gabriel Mounts, the Angeles Crest Highway is 66 miles of driving enthusiast playground. Most sections are marked with a 55 mph speed limit.
That, combined with hairpin curves, decreasing radius turns and swooping elevation changes makes for a challenging yet scenic drive. There are plenty of drive off areas with marked signs instructing slower drivers to yield.
This is a relief for me, as my rearview mirror was quickly filled with a roving pack of 8-10 Volkswagen Golf GTIs, treachorously close to my back bumper.
I’m in the 405 horsepower, twin-turbocharged BMW M2 Competition. For this version, the M Division dropped in the slightly detuned S55 engine from the M3/M4 (a 40 horsepower bump from the standard kit), and revised suspension and brakes. The M Division also claims the new changes allow more precise steering and a more confidence on the track, by way of the new CFRP strut in the engine compartment which increases chassis rigidity. Boy is it a pretty piece too:
What’s it like to drive?
Very direct and confidence inspiring, unsurprisingly. Switching the modes to Sport Plus engulfs the driver in a rousing soundtrack of “brwahhp”, “pop!”, burbles from the exhaust.
The driving dynamics remind me of the Lancer Evolution VII I used to own while living in the Netherlands. The steering instantly changes directions with a short turn ratio and the suspension displays minimal roll through the turns. The turn-in is super sharp – and it feels agile. The grip was limitless.
BMW allows several different modes which adjusts the character of the electronically adjustable dampers, with three settings, Efficient, Sport and Sport Plus. It’s capable of being a quiet steady cruiser yet wakes up with a loud crackle from the exhaust.
The 405hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged-six produces a violent push of acceleration from 3500rpm onwards, delivering the power with a spectacular roar and a pop between shifts to punctuate the point.
The DCT gearbox shifts incredible quick, on upshifts and downshifts. On the winding Angeles Crest Highway, I mostly kept the car in third and fourth which kept the car right in the powerband.
How does it compare?
With an as tested price of $64,145, the M2 Competition faces tough competition from the likes of the Shelby GT350, Camaro ZL1, and the new Toyota Supra. This is a crowded space, but the M2 more than holds its own when it comes to the performance + comfort equation.
What’s the Verdict?
Juvenile as it may seem, one of my favorite things to do was cruise around my parking garage in Sport Plus and hearing the loud crackles and pops from the exhaust. It put such a huge smile on my face. The other was the turbo rush in combination with the lightning quick gearchanges. The whole package is so well put together and there really is no weak spot – it drives, looks, and sounds beautiful and the soundtrack is off-the-scale. The BMW M2 Competition delivers stunning performance and I’ll miss it terribly.
– Joseph Tseng