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BMW M2 review: The most exciting M car in years?

The wait is over. Ben Griffin gets his mitts on the latest M in his BMW M2 review and finds it to be the sports car it should be.

The BMW M4 never really did it for me. There, I said it. Sure, it was fast, turned heads and had absurd levels of power but I could never love it, especially when it cost £60,000. It was good, just not M good.

In fact, a four-star rating had become the norm for a lot of recent Bimmers. Bar the M135i, which is still the most fun you can have in a hot-hatch (yes, I’ve driven the Focus RS), and the M235i, which has character in abundance, they all needed a character transplant.

So when BMW announced the M2, a spiritual successor to the 1M – a car Jeremy Clarkson absolutely loved when he drove it for Top Gear – I was a bit worried. How sad would it be if the 1M became the last M car to instill fear in Audi and Mercedes?

Thankfully, there was no need to worry. Not only does the M2 have most of what made the 1M such a blast to drive, it’s faster, better on fuel, more memorable to look and similarly priced.

You even get navigation free but that is actually a bad thing, because arriving at your destination on time means there’s less time to drive it. For such a fast car, you will find yourself remarkably late almost all of the time. Just one more B-road, you’ll say. And then it’s midnight.

Is the BMW M2 a ‘proper M car’? To say it isn’t because it lacks an M engine and a temperature gauge is a bit like saying you wouldn’t sleep with Jennifer Lawrence / Zac Efron [delete as appropriate] because their hair was messy. You shouldn’t and wouldn’t.

There are bad bits (I swear the steering wheel is made from polystyrene), but it put a smile on my face every time. Come rain or shine, it rewards you with a memorable drive. In fact, I almost wanted it to rain so I could slide the back out like the hooligan the M2 begs you to be.

The M2 is an expensive car and the lacklustre interior adds salt to the gaping value for money wound, but it feels like BMW went back to the drawing board to make a lovable car, one with an uncompromising and aggressive edge. And that it did.

Elements of refinement and electrical hand-holding can still be found in places (auto throttle blip being one example), but it sounds better than the M4, feels more involving than the M4, looks better than the M4 and is more agile than the M4. In short, it’s better than the M4. And £18,000 cheaper. Ask yourself, do you really need the extra space?

Anyone who opts for the optional automatic will see a couple of benefits, mainly it’s more livable in traffic jams, stop/start kicks in more often and it’s faster on paper, but doing so defeats the point of the M2. It takes you back to a time of analogue fun – embrace it and forget the £42,800 asking price.

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Video: BMW M2 review: The most exciting M car in years?

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