The wraps are off the BMW M2 Competition, which promises to be the most exciting BMW 2 Series yet. It"s priced at £49,285 and will be available to order from May, with deliveries beginning in August.
The Competition represents a comprehensive reworking of the BMW M2 package, boosting the power of its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine to 404bhp. The extra power is tamed by redesigned steering, brakes and suspension, while reshaped bodywork with enhanced aerodynamics is claimed to make the very most of the long list of changes.
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The BMW M2 – now on sale for two years – rivals the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, as well as the Porshche Cayman. The M2 Competition promises to add extra bite to the most compact "M" car you can buy, distancing it from increasingly capable hot hatchbacks like the SEAT Cupra R and Honda Civic Type R that snap at the M2"s heels.
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Subtle, understated looks are not high on the Competition"s agenda. Instead, it takes the already musclebound BMW M2 and gives it a race-inspired makeover, every part of which – from the enlarged kidney grille to the quad black chrome exhaust outlets – has been designed for enhanced performance.
The larger grille admits more air to the engine and is joined by a front skirt whose contours are designed to direct air around the front of the car for engine cooling and improved aerodynamics. The latter is also the goal of the Competition"s double-arm door mirrors, which also pay homage to celebrated BMW M models of the past.
Although the M2"s structure is unaltered, a carbon-fibre-stiffened strut brace dominates the under-bonnet view. Shared with the BMW M3 saloon and M4 coupe, It"s claimed to dramatically improve front-end stiffness for a more precise feel to the steering. Also drawn from the M3 and M4 are aluminium front and rear axles for greater stiffness and reduced weight.
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Hockenheim Silver is a new paint shade exclusive to the M2 Competition and Metallic Sunset Orange has been added to the range. Either colour contrasts dramatically with the car"s gloss-black kidney grille and side-exit "gills" on the front wings. A set of 19-inch "Y-spoke" alloy wheels is fitted, finished in silver as standard or jet black as an option.BMW M2 Competition engine
The biggest news with any new BMW "M" model is its performance and BMW promises the Competition will be even more exciting to drive than the M2, even if its 4.2-second 0-62mph time is no big improvement on the regular car"s.
The 3.0-litre engine is closely related to that used by the M3 and M4, using twin turbocharging to deliver 404bhp through a broad sweep at the top of the rev counter, with peak power from 5,250 to 7,000rpm. That"s great news for those who revel in the rev-happy nature of BMWs sportiest cars and the brand also promises an even more distinctive straight-six soundtrack for the Competition, aided by electronic exhaust flaps.
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Only cars with the optional M DCT double-clutch gearbox are claimed to hit 62mph from rest in 4.2, seconds; those with the standard six-speed manual take 4.4 seconds. Both are electronically limited to a top speed of 155mph, but the optional M Driver"s Package increases that to 170mph. Quoted fuel economy is less of a strong point – BMW claims 30.7mpg for M DCT cars and just 28.5mpg for manual, while both versions" CO2 emissions put them in the top 37% bracket for Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax.
The six-speed manual gearbox will be the traditionalists" choice, but with rev-matching to blip the accelerator on downshifts and reduce engine revs when changing up through the gears, technology makes gearshifts smoother and faster. If you like to tinker with your car"s settings, though, the M DCT will be for you.
Changing gear automatically or allowing manual changes via paddles, the M DCT offers comfort, sport and sport+ "Drivelogic" modes to suit the road and your mood, and the same settings also apply to the power-steering – increasing steering effort automatically as speed increases, or according to your preference. The modes can be controlled by switches on the centre console or buttons on the steering wheel.
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The Competition"s stability control has been recalibrated to allow greater driver freedom than before – M Dynamic mode allows more wheelspin for drifting and powersliding on track. But BMW adds that the Competition"s performance on wet or slippery roads is also improved, thanks in part to an Active M Differential.
Shedding speed should be no harder than gaining it – huge 400mm brake discs with six-piston grey-painted calipers are fitted up front and there"s a 380mm, four-piston setup at the rear.Interior and equipment
The first things that M2 Competition drivers will spot are the red start button and steering wheel controls that allow direct access to your favourite driving mode. The seats are solid-backed race-style buckets with integrated headrests and incorporate an illuminated M2 logo at shoulder height. They"re trimmed in perforated black leather, enlivened by blue or orange highlights.
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Despite its performance focus, the M2 Competition isn"t short of bells and whistles inside, offering BMW"s ConnectedDrive digital services that include concierge, real-time traffic information and emergency call features when you need them. There"s also an array of driver-assistance systems including autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and parking sensors with a rear-view camera for extra help reversing.Price and availability
Order books for the BMW M2 Competition open in mid-May, ahead of deliveries starting in August. Prices start at £49,285 for manual cars, or £51,930 for the M DCT gearbox.