The first two words in my review notes about the new M2 were; “it’s big”. Compared to its predecessor the new M2 has grown noticeably in every direction. In fact it’s so much larger that you’d mistake it for an M4 if you haven’t been paying attention. So how can this new M2 possibly live up to the rich heritage of small two door coupes BMW M is famous for? We headed to the hills of South Carolina to get some answers.

Let’s start with a look at the data. The 2024 BMW M2 has a base price of $63,195. That includes a no-cost manual transmission and a fair amount of standard equipment. Its S58 twin-turbo inline-six (taken directly from the M3/M4 has an output of 453 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. You’ll notice that those numbers are detuned with the torque limited due to what the manual transmission is rated to handle.

With all the output going to the rear wheels (as God intended) it can do 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds with Motor Trend getting 3.8 seconds with the manual and 3.6 with the auto. Those numbers are impressive given that the 1M could only manage 4.2 seconds and the outgoing M2 Competition was around 3.9 seconds. Keep in mind that these are the best times we’ve seen published and so your mileage might vary.

Seeing Driving Dynamics in The Data – The G87 M2 vs the F87 M2

Let’s get back to the size of the M2 because this is where things start to differ noticeably from the previous generation. This new G87 generation M2 is 4.1 inches longer than its predecessor, 1.3 inches wider, and 0.3 inch lower. That substantial growth is because BMW finally had to move on from it’s 1 Series based platform that both the 1M and the original M2 had used for well over a decade. BMW turned to its CLAAR platform which underpins everything from the 3 Series couple to the X7. While it’s a modular platform apparently it can only get so small. So what you see here is essentially a modified version of the platform that BMW uses to underpin the 3 Series and thus the M3 and M4.

Perhaps the biggest change that has resulted in this growth isn’t the exterior dimensions of the M2 itself but where the tires sit. The new G87 M2 has a wheelbase that’s 2.1 inches longer, and track that’s 1.5 inches wider at the front and 0.2 inch at the rear. If you could zero in on the most critical differences on paper this would be the first.

The second is weight. With the manual, the M2’s curb weight is 3,814 lbs. That’s almost 200 pounds heavier than the outgoing M2 Competition and a staggering 518 lbs heavier than the BMW 1M.

The results of these changes are many. But the top-line is that the new M2 feels more planted and poised while being less nimble and immediate. This was immediately obvious as we drove our 1M and the new M2 back to back in testing.

The original BMW 1M and the G87 M2

While there’s no surprise that there’s a difference in experience, we were shocked at just how different the driving experience was between the two cars. From the throttle response to the tactile quality of the steering, the 1M feels more immediate and delivers feedback into your brain in a way that feels much more intuitive. The biggest surprise was how the N54 powered 1M responded to throttle inputs. With the lightened flywheel in the 1M allowing for quicker revs, the difference was stark. Again it seems like an extension of the brain. On the other hand the throttle response in the M2 felt as if the it was decoding what you wanted and then delivering performance after crunching data.

The manuals, while similar Getrag units were also different in action. The clutch on the 1M was more to our liking with better weighting that resulted in more precision. And the manual itself, while a touch more notchy, had more consistent gear change. The M2’s 1st to 2nd shift felt going in comparison.

But the new M2 has plenty of party tricks that keep its head held high. Namely a combination of performance and everyday comfort that the 1M can’t quite touch.

The original BMW 1M and the G87 M2

On Road Performance

Diving into the corners of Paris Mountain in South Carolina the M2 felt completely at home. Yes there is a touch less immediacy and ability to rotate compared to the small F87 M2. But the level of performance is clearly higher. The grip has gone up considerably allowing you to push harder in every aspect. Yet this car will still play. With MDM mode on the M2 gives you plenty of slip angle to play with. The downside is that the speeds required are now much higher due to its increased capabilities. Where the 1M would famously drift at almost any speed and the F87 M2’s could be easily coaxed to into tail-out fun, the new G87 M2 needs more deliberate prodding.

None of this is a bad thing mind you. But the lasting impression you have is that this new M2 feels like a slightly different kind of car.

Day to Day Driving

Which is why it’s so superior as a daily driver. Once back from our trip to South Carolina we had a chance to live with the M2 manual for a week in Chicago and found it to be one of the best manual daily drivers we’ve ever experienced. While the clutch is a touch light for my tastes, the overall experience marries comfort and convenance with connectivity and feedback. The result is an engaging experience that never feels taxing and continuously rewarding.

Inside the M2 is miles ahead of the G87 M2 in terms of functionality but perhaps not in driver centricity. The massive screens help make it easier to navigate the endless digital settings available but we miss the simpler version of iDrive found in the previous F87 M2.

We’re also not entirely sold on the carbon bucket seats are test cars came with. While some have complained about the seat design not being compatible with the process of shifting the manual, we didn’t have any issues there. Our issue with more with the design of the seat and more specifically the large and completely unnecessary carbon fiber protrusion between your legs as you drive. We’d take the excellent standard seats any day over the buckets.

G87 BMW M2

The BMW M2 Manual – Conclusions

The new G87 M2 represents a new equation for the M2. Gone are the days of it being an unruly beast (the 1M) or a little canyon carver (the F87 M2). What we have in this new generation of M2 is a car that quite simply does what most people want better. It’s the best daily driver we’ve ever experience in small BMW M car. While it may not technically be as capable on most tracks as an M4, it’s a more rewarding an engaging experience that seemingly gives up nothing in return. The interior dimensions aren’t much different and even the trunk is surpassingly large. In short this is the best M car that BMW makes today if you don’t count the astonishing M3 CS.

The days of small and lively M cars like the 1M or the F87 M2 are likely over. But that shouldn’t take anything away from this excellent new M2. This is a driver focused, manually equipped car that rewards like few do these days. And it may just be our favorite BMW product in showrooms today.

The BMW M2 Manual – Video Review

The G87 BMW M2 Manual – Photo Gallery