I must admit, begrudgingly perhaps, that I had sort of grown accustomed to all the changes in the automotive world, hybrids, plugins, electric. And most recently self-driving cars. The latter happened when I had a fully electric F-150 for a recent week. It had a self-driving feature and after some nervousness on my part on the highway I tried it. To my surprise I sort of liked it.
Fast forward a week, and I thought: ‘What the hell has happened to me.’
It wasn’t all that long ago that if it didn’t have a full on V8 under the hood I wasn’t about to even consider driving it. And there I was driving something that had to be plugged into the wall to charge like a cellphone. I didn’t even need to drive the thing, it did that for me. I could read a book, get lost in thought, or heck, even though not recommended, I could take a nap.
I realized I’d lost my way; strayed from the straight and narrow path once lit by ICEs. But BMW made me realize that despite the battery powered, electric engine single geared ‘machines’ that dominate the roads today there are still a few that harken back to the days of old. Real machines. Like the BMW M2 they delivered to my driveway for a recent week.
In my world this is an automotive masterpiece of the 21st century. The 2023 BMW M2 Coupe delivered to me is a symphony of power and precision that nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes when I first saw it. For this isn’t just a BMW; this is the new for 2023 M model. It’s like Hugh Jackmans Wolverine dressed in a tailored suit ready to bare its claws and pounce; Danial Craig as James Bond in a tuxedo taking down a group of international thugs without breaking a sweat or wrinkling his jacket.
BMW introduced the next generation of the M series in 2022, but they made the world wait a year for the M version.
It was well worth the wait. During the extra year they took an entry level rear wheel drive sports coupe, already pretty high performance in its own right, and stiffened the chassis, stuffed the engine from an M4 under the hood, then sent it to the engineers in Bavaria who I think live in sort of high performance monastery in secret and said ‘here, have at it.’
What I, and the world, ended up with is a 2 series with a muscular and purposeful stance. With flared wheel arches, aggressive front grille, and subtle M badges that look like battle scars. With the optional Carbon package there’s carbon fiber trim inside and out, and the sport seats are replaced by body-hugging buckets that save almost 25 pounds. And as if to add a cherry on top, the M2 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission.
Inside there’s an aura of sophistication combined with a hint of excitement. Excitement knowing you will soon be on the road in something extraordinary. It’s something I knew would be special even before pushing the start button. Something I hadn’t experienced in a very long time: you don’t really get into this car, you put it on; it wraps around you and become one with it.
From the driver’s seat, below are three pedals and next to you a stick shift. It’s an endangered species in this world of paddle-shifted automatics, and anemic CVTs.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six roars to life gifting you with 453 horsepower and 406 pound-ft of torque. No self-driving mode here kids. You have to work for it; shift your way through the gears in concert with your feet on the clutch. And with BMW’s famous tech, on the road you can adjust the M2 to play any sort of concert you want. With all the available modes and adjustments, it’s like an orchestra playing Beethoven with Slash in the wings ready to plug in and blow up the speakers. A sedate drive can become a 0-60 in 3.8 seconds with a push of one of the red M buttons conveniently located on the steering wheel.
On the road the chassis dances with grace and precision, responding to every input with the telepathy only a true driver’s car can offer. The steering, hydraulic I might add, is communicative and gives you an intimate connection to the pavement. You no longer are taking a trip to the grocery store, the corner to leave the neighborhood becomes the Carraciola-Karussell at the Nürburgring. A gentle bend on the main road becomes the Parabolica curve at Monza, or Eau Rouge at Spa.
Sure, the back seats are useless for much more than carrying extra groceries, and the fuel mileage, well you don’t buy such a thing to save gas. But with the M2 it’s no longer a drive, it’s an experience, one you always hope will never end. And considering the pricing for the 2023 M2 it may not have to. My tester for the week came out to $75,695 which is much more affordable than some other sports cars that can match it.
And my god I hated to see it go. When it was picked up the following week, I watched it drive away leaving me with a tear rolling down my cheek but with fond memories of a great week in a great car. Memories that will remain for quite some time, which is something I can’t say about many of the cars I get to spend a week with.
If you’ll excuse me now, I have to go plug in my cellphone, it needs charging.
The 2023 BMW M2
Engine: 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder with two mono-scroll turbochargers, indirect charge air cooling, 453 hp @ 6,250 rpm, 406 lb-ft torque @ 2,650 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel mileage (EPA): 24 highway, 16 city, 19 combined
Fuel mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 22 mpg
MSRP (as tested): $75,695
Base curb weight: 3,814 lbs.
Overall width with mirrors:81.4 in.
Overall width without mirrors:74.3 in.
Height: 55.2 in.
Wheelbase: 108.1 in.
Cargo capacity, all seats in place 13.8 cu.ft.
Ground clearance: 4.8 in.
Front head room: 38.1 in.
Front leg room: 41.8 in.
Front shoulder room: 55.9 in.
Rear headroom : 34.7 in.
Rear leg room: 32.2 in.
Rear shoulder room: 51.7 in.
Basic: 4 yr./ 50,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 4 yr./ 50,000 mi.
Rust: 12 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 4 yr./ unlimited mi.
Free maintenance: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
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