2024 BMW tests the M2—possibly the last M car with a manual transmission

Zoom in / BMW's M2 may be the last M car to be built with three pedals and a stick shift.

Peter Nelson

We're at an interesting crossroads in the high-performance enthusiast car market. Running from east to west is the adoption of electric vehicles and the slow reduction in internal combustion engine car production. The ICE horsepower progression from the factory has been north to south over the years, and it's unclear how far it continues from here. The downside is that the need for manual transmissions weakens – unfortunately that's where they end up.

In the middle of this crossover sits the 2024 BMW M2 six-speed manual, its tail hanging around the edges in a large controlled skid, giving BMW's internal combustion M car one last hurray as the ultimate object of affection.

I recently had the opportunity to drive BMW's latest, compact M car through some of Southern California's most fun mountain roads and the Streets of Willow circuit at Willow Springs International Raceway. When it comes to quickly figuring out the powertrain and chassis of this type of car, I can't think of a better combination of pavement. Here's what makes the latest and last six-speed manual-equipped M2 generation the best enthusiast coupe overall.

BMW has given the M2 a more muscular look than the regular 2 Series Coupe.
Zoom in / BMW has given the M2 a more muscular look than the regular 2 Series Coupe.

Peter Nelson

Focused inside-out

Looks are subjective, especially BMW looks, but I think BMW did a good job on the exterior of the M2. Its kidney grilles, headlights, fender flares, exhaust tips and wide fenders—especially on the rear quarter panels—are attractive. It's a small muscle coupe, and it certainly communicates its intentions to you with its massive intakes cut into the front end. Behind them is a heat exchanger for its engine's air-to-water cooling (more on this later), and multiple forms of water and oil cooling ensure long-term peak performance, all-torque-on-road and track. – The session is long. It's hard to mistake the Basic 2 series.

See also  Biden, McCarthy lead US debt ceiling negotiations.

Inside, it's quite spacious for a coupe and has excellent all-round visibility. My test car had the $9,900 Carbon Package, which gives you comfort, racing-bucket carbon fiber seats and a thin carbon roof. I'm 6ft 3in tall, so the lack of a sliding top mirror was a godsend, and allowed me to wear a helmet on the track without having to lean over, which is a rarity in modern cars. The seats are a bit painful to slide in and out, and the left leg bolster is pushed inwards a bit too much, my slender figure hinders efficient and comfortable clutch action. However, I suspect many people will not have the same problem.

Technically, a sleek 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen take up a lot of real estate. BMW's iDrive 8 software is easy to get the hang of, runs very smoothly and has good haptic feedback. The quality of the products is good overall; All the buttons and dials felt substantial, and the Carbon Package included chic layers of carbon fiber trim instead of the boring old piano black plastic so common in modern performance cars.

Opinions about BMW's carbon bucket seats are mixed.  They hold you in place well, but can be difficult to get in and out of, and the cone between the driver's legs is polarizing.
Zoom in / Opinions about BMW's carbon bucket seats are mixed. They hold you in place well, but can be difficult to get in and out of, and the cone between the driver's legs is polarizing.

Peter Nelson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *