Let's play a little game. How many cool factory accessories can you fit to a BMW M2 Pure, arguably the most authentic vehicle made by the iconic Bavarian marque right now?
The answer is 'quite a few'. About $22,000 worth in the case of the test car you see here, or close to 25 per cent of the car's actual sticker price before on-road costs and taxes take hold. Therefore, this rolling advertisement for its M Performance bit cost $116,000 RRP give or take.
Let's rewind. You're looking at the just-updated manual 2018 BMW M2 Pure, the hardcore entry point to BMW M's smallest coupe range and really the spiritual successor to iconic halos such as the E46 M3.
Be still, beating heart of mine.
You might recall that the company rolled out the LCI 2 Series a few months ago. Additions included the fitment of iDrive 6, bi-LED headlights, slick new instruments including a digital speedo and... indicator stalks that 'snap' into position, because apparently customers demanded it. Okay then.
All this came in return for a cheeky price increase on the 'Pure' amounting to $3090, to $93,300 before on-road costs. The 'regular' (non-Pure) M2 costs $99,900 with either manual or DCT auto transmissions.
Of course, rampant demand from Australian punters and limited supply out of Germany means Bimmer can charge whatever the hell it likes. Which sort of segues to the next point...
BMW Australia has been quite keen to tell us – ergo you – all about the range of BMW M Performance options you can have to make your M2 a little more special than the next person's.
That's why our white-painted tester has the following:
- Carbon-fibre attachments on the car's front ($1658); the side, kicking up near the rear arch (another $1658); the rear spoiler ($748); and mirror caps ($750.20)
- Black gloss grille surround ($440)
- M Performance Exhaust System ($4490) plus 80mm titanium tips on each quad-pipe ($1595.04)
- M Performance steering wheel trimmed in Alcantara (a type of suede) like many track cars ($1088.66)
- Motorsport Foil Set ($45.64) and various old-school BMW stickers ($72.62) that look either brilliant or hideous depending on your persuasion
- 19-inch M Performance Y Spoke 763M light alloy wheels ($8839) fitted with super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres ($449)
I defy any BMW M fan to tell me the M2 Pure specified up like this doesn't look the absolute part, thanks in part to those staggeringly expensive wheels. And I can also tell you it damned-well sounds the part, turning over and roaring into life, settling back into a keening snarl as the engine reverts to idle.
As any BMW fan will know, the 'F87' M2 sports the company's widely used 3.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged inline-six with fully variable valve control and super-precise injection. Here it makes 272kW of power at 6500rpm, and 465Nm of torque between 1400 and 5560rpm – a wide torque spread commingled with top-end power delivery.
Engine torque is sent to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed manual gearbox, though for $6000 more you can have the 'regular' M2 with more spec and a seven-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission).
The 0-100km/h time is 4.5 seconds with the manual or 4.3 seconds with the auto. This means the M2 Pure is actually only 0.1sec faster than the $16,500 less expensive M240i, which has a new-gen six-pot engine with more torque (500Nm) but less power (250kW).
The more important measure, though, is engagement. There's no doubt the engine offers a strong surging torque delivery to give you effortless pulling power, plus a love of nudging the rev limiter more rapidly than you'd expect. But does it make you love it?
Well, the regular M2 is no aural wallflower, but ours gets the dual-mode M Performance exhaust fitted at the dealer (or in our case, BMW Australia HQ). It packages a stainless steel valve silencer with cockpit-switchable two-mode system that ratchets up the burbling and crackling in Sport mode, and adds a further layer of guttural rawness in Track mode.
Given the M Performance system and titanium exhaust tips cost about $5500 combined (another $565 for tips made from carbon-fibre instead) it'd want to sound good. Yet somehow having an Akrapovič system feels less authentic to this writer... even if it'd still sound incredible.
Reflecting its name, the M2 Pure gets a manual ’box, a notchy and mechanical H-pattern 6MT unit with the perfect clutch take-up point and Alcantara surround. The ’box also rev-matches/throttle-blips for you automatically on downshifts, which some real drivers may call sacrilege. Learn it yourselves! Of course, it'll save mechanical wear and strain.
Dynamically, the M2 Pure gets double-joint spring struts up front and a multi-arm rear axle, M Servotronic speed-dependent steering, switchable stability-control parameters, adaptive throttle mapping and shift times, and an Active M differential.
The tricky rear diff transmits engine torque laterally across the rear axle to where it's most needed. The 'Active' part means that the on-board sensors track road conditions, optimum locking degree, yaw rate etc.
The real dynamic trick the M2 pulls is the way it's both liveable and hardcore depending on your mood and surroundings. Day-to-day you can take a lot of resistance out of the steering and numb the throttle/note to the point where the car becomes a relatively comfortable daily – though the lack of a properly softened, active damper mode means it's still a smidgen uncompromising.
Fact is, though, the M2 is vastly easier to live with than something like a Ford Focus RS, Mercedes-AMG A45 or, for that matter, the BMW M4 with its DCT. It's raw, but without ever devolving into being crashy or brittle. Edgy without being barbed.
Put the car in Sport or Sport+, though, and the tail will flick out under heavy mashing of the throttle, on exit or even from the lights if you want it to, despite the super-sticky rubber.
It also holds its line over even sharp mid-corner hits and has chassis balance and razor-like turn-in reminiscent of bugger-all else this side of a RMR Porsche Cayman. 'Confidence inspiring' is the phrase that kept coming to mind – it's hard to go into a corner too hot for the car to handle it.
The suede steering wheel is gorgeous in the hand, and that Servotronic steering is super-direct in any mode, though it's not quite as engaging as the preternaturally good Porsche we just mentioned. And it'll never match a hydraulic set-up like the E46's for pure communication between the front wheels and one ahead of you.
Then there are the super natural-feeling brakes comprising four-piston calipers and 380mm discs up front, with two-piston calipers and 370mm discs at the rear.
So what about the cabin? Forget the name, this Pure is no stripper, even if it's not exactly a paragon of luxury either. Bimmer has deleted features from the 'regular' M2 such as adaptive LED headlights with assistance, electric seats, keyless-go (called Comfort Access) and the bigger Harman/Kardon audio system.
The leather seats with blue stitching have a heap of (manual) adjustment, as does the steering column, meaning damn near anyone will have good ergonomics. The electric lumbar adjust also means you can get a reassuring hug, without being body-strangled by racing buckets. Again, this is a great daily.
The iDrive 6 infotainment remains highly intuitive, with a simple rotary dial operation helped by button shortcuts all over the place, plus there are idiot-proof ventilation controls, mapping software and a clinical no-nonsense audio system. Nothing shouts, nothing drops your jaw, but everything works and sits where it should. Though some alloy pedals might be nice...
There's also that new driver instrument display with M-specific content plus a 300km/h speedometer and 7000rpm redline, as well as a light that comes on when the M Dynamic Mode is engaged. And a digital speedo without a HUD!
The rear seats are for kids only, and there are child-seat attachment points if you can be arsed flipping down the front seats and sliding them forward for access. The boot is a decent 390 litres and ours had neat netting to hold stuff down.
The M2 is included in BMW's Service Inclusive program, which covers servicing costs for five years and 80,000km, costed here. It also comes with a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and 12-monthly service intervals.
You can also stretch your car's limits at a BMW Driving Experience day conducted at some of Australia’s leading tracks, including the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, and supervised by professional instructors.
So here's the thing. Spending $20,000 or more on extra bits for your BWM M2 Pure may seem a little outlandish, but it's not like the car is lacking much without ’em. The M2 remains the true modern iteration of the iconic M Cars I loved growing up in the ’90s, or at least the closest thing to them.
I frankly found it hard to put my passion for the brand aside when driving this thing, but that's okay right? Don't forget we also hammered the hell out of an M2 on track against the four-doored AMG A45 and Audi RS3 recently with some help from rally icon Chris Atkinson, and found it the best of that illustrious pack. So I'm in good company.
If you love performance cars, you'll love this one.
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