- Great base engine
- Smart looks
- Available manual transmission
- Optional turbo-6 is stupefying
- Pricey optional extras
- Cramped back seat
- Coupe look is a little gangly
- Difficult rear quarters
features & specs
The 2018 BMW 2-Series is a competent coupe with plenty of power—even in base trim.
The 2018 BMW M2 sports car is a return to form for the automaker. It's light, powerful, and a true driver's car.
In this case, less is more. The M2 is offered as just one model, with one engine, two transmissions, few options, and a minimum of electronics settings. It’s the type of car that enthusiasts expect from BMW but many have missed in recent years.
It earns a 7.2 on our ratings scale thanks to its strong set of base equipment, fun character, and outstanding performance. Fuel economy and ride quality aren’t always great, but that’s often what you get with a sports car. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Changes for 2018 are minor. Adaptive xenon headlights give way to adaptive LEDs and a rearview camera becomes standard.
To create the M2, BMW took a standard 2-Series coupe, and stuffed a bunch of M3/M4 parts underneath it. That meant the fenders had to get wider and the front end had to make more room for cooling. Inside, however, it received sport seats and a bit of trim, but little more.
The hardware is really what makes the M2 such a performer. The lightweight front and rear axle systems are all M3/M4 parts. At the rear, BMW installed an Active M Differential to help the car hook up out of a turn. All four corners get Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires mounted on lightweight forged aluminum 19-inch wheels, as well as M compound perforated and vented disc brakes.
The M3/M4’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 resides under the hood, though here it is detuned to produce 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. That's 60 fewer horses and 37 less lb-ft of torque than the M3, but this is a smaller, lighter car.
All that hardware makes the M2 a joy to drive. Zero to 60 mph arrives in as little as 4.2 seconds. The driving experience includes nicely weighted steering, precise body control, strong brakes, and a sweet engine note.
The 2-Series doesn't have much in the way of a rear seat, and the cabin's cramped even in front. All versions have good standard equipment which includes navigation, leather, heated front seats, and automatic climate control–but you'll have to pay extra for forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings, even a rearview camera.
Fuel economy is decent for a sports car at a best of 23 mpg in the combined cycle. Get into the turbo too often, though, and you will watch that figure come down.
2018 BMW 2-Series
The 2018 BMW M2 is a 2-Series on steroids, with flared fenders, big wheels and tires, and lots of large cooling ducts to announce its intentions.
The 2018 BMW M2 gives the sports car treatment to the standard 2-Series coupe. Prominent cooling ducts, wide fenders, and big wheels and tires make it clear that this car is something special. We like it and give it a 7 for styling, adding points for its macho aura and overall aggression without being gaudy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The front fenders are flared to deal with the M axles and wide tires underneath. Up front, BMW’s signature twin-inlet grille sits above a large air intake that rests between a pair of big, angular air ducts. That’s a lot of area for cooling, but then again, this turbocharged coupe has a considerable performance envelope.
At the sides, a character line resolves into a gill in the front fender and a haunch at the rear fender. The roofline drops quickly into the trunk, where it is cut off by a short rear spoiler. The overall effect is a somewhat stubby coupe that looks like it means business.
Inside, the M2 is simple. The materials lack flair, and impart a stark ambiance that’s more about getting the job done than impressing with luxury. There are, however, a few special M surfaces, including the look of raw carbon fiber, as well as M logos for the gauge cluster, shift lever, door sills, and steering wheel.
2018 BMW 2-Series
The M2 represents a return to form for BMW, offering driver engagement to go with its outstanding performance.
The 2018 BMW M2 is the kind of BMW that made enthusiasts fall in love with the brand. It offers great power—though not too much of it—and great sensation from behind the wheel. Its small size and active differential make it very agile, the wide tires give it lots of grip, and the M brakes provide plenty of stopping power. For these reasons, we rate it a 9 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The M2 is the result of stuffing M3/M4 equipment under a smaller car, where it can create an even more agile package. The idea is pure performance while keeping the price under control and bringing back those coveted driver’s seat sensations that some of the M cars have lost in recent years.
Using the M3/M4 axles means the strut assemblies and tubular anti-roll bar are aluminum, as are the control arms, axle subframes, wheel carriers, and stiffening plate of the double-joint spring-strut front axle. BMW also added a stiffening plate to the underbody to provide another bolted connection between the axle subframe and the body sills.
The electronically controlled Active M Differential, a multi-plate limited-slip diff, can fully lock in just 150 milliseconds, helping prevent excess wheelspin for an inside wheel in a turn or when one wheel is on a slicker surface.
All four corners get Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 245/35s up front and 265/35s at the rear, mounted on lightweight forged aluminum 19-inch wheels. M compound perforated and vented disc brakes are also found all around. The front 15-inch rotors feature four-piston fixed calipers, while the rear 14.5-inch discs have two-piston fixed calipers.
All the performance equipment creates a car that is perfectly at ease in everyday traffic but is at its best when being driven hard. Well-weighted steering, precise body control, strong brakes, and a smooth and slick 6-speed manual gearbox bring a smile to the enthusiast’s face, as do the right performance-car sounds.
The M2 doesn’t need adaptive dampers for its suspension to allow the right amount of predictable weight transfer in tight corners. The Active M Differential is also at work in turns, helping to precisely control the torque allocation and prevent the inside wheel from spinning too freely, thus staving off understeer. This helps make the car more predictable near the limits of adhesion in a way that a car with an open diff or a brake-based “torque vectoring” system never could. When the road straightens out, the M diff also puts more power down, letting the M2 drive harder out of the turn.
Not everyone will love the M2. To the uninitiated in the ways of performance, the ride may feel too jittery on broken surfaces, even though it absorbs hard impacts nicely. Road noise is also a constant companion, with a whooshing sound on the highway and a booming sound on coarse pavement.
The M2’s direct-injected, twin-scroll turbo-6 produces 365 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque between 1,400 and 5,560 rpm. An overboost function raises torque to 369 lb-ft between 1,450 and 4,750 rpm.
The 3.0-liter winds out up to 7,000 rpm, and BMW makes sure the sound is part of the experience with an exhaust-flap system and some piped-in induction noise. The M2 rockets from 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds with the M DCT (dual-clutch) transmission, or 4.4 seconds with the 6-speed manual. It can reach a top speed of 155 mph, but buyers who choose the M Drivers package get a 168-mph top speed (as well as a day at a BMW track school).
BMW's M DCT shifts seamlessly in fractions of a second without upsetting body control or the tire grip. We prefer the slick-shifting manual; it has great clutch coordination and a linkage that reminds us of past M3 models. However, it comes with a rev-matching feature that can't be turned off unless you turn off the stability control as well. Purists won't like that, but it makes better drivers of most of us amateurs.
While there is a Sport+ mode that creates sharper settings for the throttle, M DCT (if equipped), steering, and stability control, it doesn’t create the somewhat artificial feel that has plagued cars like the M3 and M4. That’s another reason to love the M2.
2018 BMW 2-Series
Comfort & Quality
The M2’s cockpit may be tight and spartan, but it gets the job done thanks in part to outstanding sport seats.
Like the 2-Series upon which it is based, the M2’s cockpit is tight. The materials are somewhat stark in their appearance, but the front seats are great for performance driving. All in all, it gets the job done for the car’s sporty intentions. We rate the M2 a 6 for comfort and quality, adding a point for those fantastic front seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The materials are solid but not special. The fit and finish are typical BMW quality, which is to say high-end, but BMW makes no effort to give the cabin a luxurious look and feel.
The seats do come with standard leather upholstery, and they offer great side support to keep occupants upright and in control in the twisties. Not only that, but they are quite pleasant on the back when driving on pockmarked city streets and two-lane country roads.
Front seat occupants have good space, but the rear seat will be tight for anyone other than small children.
The trunk has a decent 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space, which is as much as some mid-size sedans.
2018 BMW 2-Series
BMW makes most of its safety features optional in the 2018 M2, and it hasn't been safety tested.
The 2018 BMW M2 makes most of its safety features optional. It also hasn’t received complete crash test results and therefore we can’t give it a safety rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The M2 has not been tested by either of the agencies that crash test cars and it likely won’t ever be tested. However, the structurally similar 2018 2-Series coupe was tested by the IIHS and it received top "Good" in all of the crash tests, as well as an "Advanced" rating for its front crash prevention system.
The M2 has the usual six airbags (dual front, front side, and curtain side), plus adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera is newly standard this year. A nice set of safety features is available in the Executive package. It includes lane-departure warnings, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, as well as rear parking sensors.
2018 BMW 2-Series
The 2018 BMW M2 is offered as one well-equipped model with a very limited options list.
The 2018 BMW M2 is available in the U.S. in just one trim configuration that starts around $54,000. Options are limited, but the car comes with most of the features you would want for using the M2 as both a performance car and a daily driver. We give it an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The list of comfort and convenience features is impressive. It includes 14-way adjustable heated leather front seats, automatic climate control, navigation, adaptive cruise control, a Harman Kardon sound system, satellite radio, and ambient interior lighting. Hardware and performance features include M-compound ventilated disc brakes, an M Dynamic mode for the stability control, an Active M Differential, a rear spoiler, and 19-inch alloy wheels. For 2018, adaptive xenon headlights give way to adaptive LEDs and a rearview camera is standard.
The inclusion of navigation as standard means BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is standard. It includes a rotary controller and a screen that rises from the center stack. The controller can recognize written fingertip inputs, and the system is one of the easier to use on the market after years of refinement.
The M2 doesn't offer a carbon fiber roof like the M4, and the options list is quite short. The major option is an Executive package that adds a heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, wireless charging and a wi-fi hotspot, and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant, which includes lane-departure warnings and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.
Also available are Apple CarPlay and the M Driver’s package which consists of a 168-mph top speed and a one-day high-performance driving class in either South Carolina or California.
2018 BMW 2-Series
The 2018 BMW M2 balances its ready power with decent fuel economy, though efficiency goes down as you tap into the turbo.
At 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined with the dual-clutch automatic and 18/26/21 mpg with the manual, the 2018 BMW M2’s fuel economy is merely decent for a compact car. Those numbers earn it a 6 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The M2 won’t break the bank at the pump, but it will start to drink fuel if you drive it hard, thanks to the turbo.