The BMW M2 Competition is, by its size and power, the baby of the BMW M family but that’s not to say it should be underestimated.
It may be the smallest, least powerful M car on the market but the M2 Competition is still a 404bhp, rear-wheel-drive monster with the kind of performance that will make a grown adult giggle like a child.
At its heart lies a twin-turbocharged straight six engine that can push the relatively small M2 to 62mph in just 4.2 seconds. It’s a torquey, flexible engine that is happy loping along at mid-revs or being strung out right to the 7,500rpm red line. Either way, the pull is relentless and it makes a wonderfully angry metallic roar as it piles on speed, shifting gaplessly via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Supporting that spectacular engine is a chassis that’s every bit a match for it. The Competition features more structural bracing and uprated suspension, steering and brakes than the original M2 and is an absolute joy to throw around.
The whole package is responsive, nimble and completely involving. Turn-in is immediate from razor sharp steering and there’s a glorious poise, balance and engagement that shames some sports cars costing twice as much.
On the road it’s communicative and thrilling, on the track it’s absolutely phenomenal. With the freedom to properly explore its abilities, you can dial steering and angle in with the throttle precisely and even a leaden-footed amateur like me can prompt it into controlled, graceful drifts that just for a moment make you feel like a driving god.
And yet, while it is a full-on high-performance machine it’s not overly harsh. In calmer situations it’s refined enough that you wouldn’t dread longer motorway journeys, which is pretty impressive given how raucous and sharp it feels away from big roads.
All that performance is clear from the way the M2 Competition looks without going overboard. Everything - arches, wheels, bodykit, quad exhausts - is swollen, muscular, full of intent but it’s not over-the-top attention seeking. Like a professional rugby player in a sharply cut suit, it’s clearly something more powerful than the norm but doesn’t feel the need to shout about it.
Inside, it’s pleasingly simple. There’s very little digital nonsense here, just two big dials for revs and speed with a little info screen telling you that you’ve broken the 15mpg barrier (or not).
Likewise, the rest of the cabin feels relatively simple compared with the flashy, over-endowed interiors of some other BMWs. If you’re feeling generous you can ascribe this to BMW wanting you to focus on the driving, if you’re feeling more cynical you could argue it’s because it’s a car nearing the end of its life.
Either way, in everything from its looks to its compelling performance it epitomises what an M car is all about. It’s at turns utterly ferocious and yet completely manageable. If you can live with the firm ride and some tyre/wind noise (plus a prodigious thirst) you could use it every day. And every day you’d end up with a smile on your face.
BMW M2 Competition
Price: £51,640; Engine: 3.0-litre, straight-six, twin-turbo, petrol; Power: 404bhp; Torque: 406lb/ft; Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic; Top speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds; Economy: 28.8-29.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 220-223g/km