Home » The BMW M2 Was My First Taste Of Real Adult Horsepower

The BMW M2 Was My First Taste Of Real Adult Horsepower

Bmw M2 Test Drive Ts
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Just picture it. Somebody’s handed you the keys to a twin-turbo sports car, and you’ve got a calendar more open than a 7-Eleven. Find yourself a good road and you’ve got yourself one hell of an afternoon. All you need is a good bit of sunshi—well, you’ll make the best of it. Needs must, and opportunities like this don’t come along every day.

I was lucky enough to find myself behind the wheel of a rather delectable automobile–the 2023 BMW M2. It’s got a spec sheet that inspires shenanigans. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged straight six has a solid 453 horsepower on tap, more than enough to get you into trouble. The steering is quick, the tires sticky, and the engine is plenty generous with the revs. Clothed in this svelte coupe, I belted out into Melbourne’s traffic, a naughty little ribbon of tarmac dialed up on the sat nav. 

I’d waited a long time to drive a car like the M2. Up until this point, I’d never driven a car with more than 270 horsepower. I was champing at the bit to finally mat the pedal in something that could smoke tires on command and rocket me towards the horizon. Even better was the surprise that this car had three pedals, not two. Joy of joys, I was driving a stick. 

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At the same time, this presented a bit more of a risk than I’d bargained for. My first time out with big power, and it’s with three pedals and rear-wheel-drive on a slick rainy day. The visions flashed through my head from thousands of videos of Cars and Coffee past. Over-exuberant acceleration. The shocked look as the tail end goes light. The “OOOOOOHs” from a hundred gawping spectators, smartphones aloft as they capture the crunch of metal and plastic meeting a concrete dividing wall.

That couldn’t be me. Not in someone else’s car, especially. I’d use all my guile and maturity to keep this thing pointed in the right direction, and the right foot would be as well behaved as a studious Labrador at Puppy Pre-School.

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Weirdly, though, there was also one odd flaw that caught me out. The ultra-sporty seats feature a big lump in between your legs to help secure you in tight turns. The only problem was that it was rather misaligned with the clutch pedal. It digs into one’s leg every time one goes to shift. Strange, but not a deal breaker. I adjusted my seat to minimize the problem as much as possible and elected to order my own M2 with the regular seats, should I ever come into real money. 

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Told you it was moist.

With the twisty roads over an hour away, I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with the car on the highway. Prodigious torque, blip assist, and a good clutch made it an easy manual to drive, even in stop-start traffic. Visibility was good too, something most slinky coupes fail to offer. Most of all though, I was enjoying the thrust courtesy of the twin turbos and the fat rear tires. I couldn’t wait to open up on some wide sweepers, before deftly shifting down in a tight braking zone. 

As I drove on, it continued pouring with rain in the best Melbourne tradition. The roads were slick and unforgiving. It would seem a deft touch was the order of the day, then.

I was already feeling confident with the M2 by the time I got to the countryside. I was greeted by Australia’s greatest street sign – the yellow diamond emblazoned with a squiggly black arrow. It seemed to promise a good time, and for once in my life, I had the car to take advantage of it. My driving brain lit up with excitement, even if it had a pin jabbed in it with a strongly-worded note: “IT’S WET, DON’T GO STUPID.”

My run began on a dense forest road. In these tricky conditions, the coupe demonstrated the benefits of its tire package immediately. With the right foot firmly engaged, the revs soared and the car squirmed as it surged forward under boost. I paced my shifts into second, third, wary of pouring on too much speed for the contact patch to deal with. The aim was to be the opposite of a Mustang leaving Cars and Coffee. I was going to feed in the right amount of throttle for the conditions, not spiral off into a ditch. 

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That little red switch disengages the traction control and sets the engine up for full beans. Engage at your peril.

A short stretch of dry tarmac nonetheless offered a tantalizing treat early in the proceedings. I enjoyed the grip by pulling a healthy amount of lateral Gs. The M2 reveled in the tight corners, with the direct, pointy steering being a huge boon. The rack was gloriously quick, with no need to wind on excessive lock. Flicking through switchbacks was a joy. Punching in a little extra power would deftly kick the rear, just a little, and it was easy to hold with the feedback and responsiveness on offer through the wheel.

The engine was really something, too. I dearly wanted to take it not just to the prom, but to the afterparty at 4 a.m. Punch the throttle and the car would just thrust, those giant rubbery meats sticking to the road like glue. Public roads don’t do this level of horsepower justice, and I knew that I’d need a track to really wring the best out of it. It was enjoyable, to be sure, but it also made me appreciate the charms of lighter, lower-powered cars like the Mazda Miata, where you can mat the pedal without risking your license every time. On a circuit, though, it was clear to me that this inline-six would really sing.

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As I was learning the car, fresh rains were blowing in, trying to spoil the party. Restraint was key, because as much as traction and stability control can help, it’s better not to put yourself in harm’s way in the first place. In any case, the M2’s basic mechanical grip handled the conditions with aplomb. At no point was I left plowing on with understeer, or suffering from the tail end suddenly breaking loose. The car remained predictable, and was more than willing to remind me of the state of the road with a firm wiggle when punching it out of a corner. Those little squirms under acceleration were the warning sign. “Okay, you’re having fun. Just know that you’re on the edge here.”

After a good couple of hours and some muddy photography sessions, I called it a day. The M2 happily carried me back to the pleasures of downtown Melbourne, looking sharp as hell all the while. If I learned one thing, it’s that I need to take a car like this out on a dry track to really learn what it can do. A slippery mountain road was a good taste, but was perhaps a challenge best suited to an experienced rally driver rather than a journalist peaking on Red Bull.

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Conditions were poor, but I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to drive the M2.

Fundamentally, the M2 taught me that there’s something intoxicating about having too much power on tap. You’re not a child anymore. You’ve got something just a little dangerous to play with, and it’s up to you to make sure it’s used appropriately. That little taste of responsibility is thrilling, as is pushing the limits to find out just what you can really handle. It’s like the first time you hand a toddler a kitchen mixer and a bowl full of cake mix. Their eyes grow wide with the power they now hold. Their nascent brain knows that one overzealous  pull of the trigger could paint the ceiling in grand fashion, and that control now rests in their tiny little fingers. It’s powerful stuff. 

I may have only gotten to properly enjoy the M2 for an afternoon, but it was an education. Ultimately, it left me wanting more. All I know is I need to get myself behind the wheel of another exquisite and powerful coupe, and this time with more grip to play with. Here’s to the next adventure …

Image credits: Lewin Day

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Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
4 months ago

I dig the colour.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

The only problem was that it was rather misaligned with the clutch pedal. It digs into one’s leg every time one goes to shift.

I hate these seats so much! I’m glad I’m not the only one who wonders what the hell they were thinking.

Is Travis
Is Travis
4 months ago

There’s something to be said about inline sixes after a life of driving engines that didn’t have primary and secondary engine balance for your entire life, and a new BMW one at that.

Steve Balistreri
Steve Balistreri
4 months ago

Great review! Reminds me of when I bought a 2013 Mustang GT. All the cars and coffee videos were fresh on my mind and I didn’t give it the full beans until a month after I bought it and felt like I understood the car. It was exhilarating having too much power on tap, but the slow car fast rule is true. As wild as the rush was from the 400+ Hp V8 I probably had more fun overall in my Fiesta ST, which you could flog anywhere without endangering your license.

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

I wouldn’t be able to drive a car with a gauge cluster that looks like this. Even if I never have to look at it.
Just knowing that it’s there…

Last edited 4 months ago by Goblin
Jon FoRS
Jon FoRS
4 months ago

Drove the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne earlier this year- Some awesome twisty secondary roads in the region. Even driving a rental in the dry at normal speeds required a lot of focus! On the highways however- speeding is an expensive no-no. I learned my lesson for getting caught going just 6kph over the speed limit. Sounds insane to a driver from the US where 80-85 mph in a 65 is just keeping up with traffic. However the strict highway speed enforcement in Australia made for a relaxing and civilized experience where drivers obeyed the passing and travel lane rules etc..

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
4 months ago

My first fast car was a 2006 STI. I was 19. My dad taught me how to drive a stick in the dealership parking lot. I went through the original tires in 2 thousand miles doing AWD donuts in my high school parking lot at night. Then I learned tires are expensive.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago

My first 200+hp experience was driving a drunk date back to his penthouse on Nob Hill from Japantown in his Jaguar XJS Cabriolet. A couple clicks of the whispy chrome gear selector and that aircraft-carrier hood leading the rush uphill with just a brush of the right loafer: intoxicating without the Kirin Ichiban.
Pulling into the garage and the narrow underground parking space between an S Class and a concrete column – Not so much.

Then there was the rental V6 Mustang Convertible I drove for a few weeks when I first moved to LA. 305 hp never felt so cheap and mundane.

Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz CLK350 Cabriolet.
Heavy and smooth yet more tossable and responsive than the Mustang on narrow, curvy mountain roads – in a way that makes the successor A207 E350/E400 feel wooden and numb.
Only 268hp – but more than enough useful power compared to the burly C207 E550 loaner I was issued from the Beverly Hills service department one long weekend.
More than a couple dozen times the traction control has kicked in and kept me on the paved side of a tighter than expected curve – or cliff-face.

As far as I’m concerned – more than 300-ish hp for 95% of driving is superfluous.
Especially when we really drive torque.

More hp than that is about as useful as bragging about the size of your endowment to people who will never see it.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I still don’t understand the transition from C209 to C207. The 209 was such a fun car, and I completely agree the 207 feels wooden and dead. The 550 motor is awesome, but the rest of the car is meh- it’s also not nice to look at. I’m also of the opinion that the W204 and W205 chassis cars are, generally, pretty shit, while the W203 was just awesome, so that’s gotta have something to do with it. I’ve driven maaaany 204/205 300/350/400/43 and tons of C63s and never cared for any of them. I’ve always been an E-Class whore though.

The 213 and it’s brethren is such a shocking platform.. from E300 yawnfest that, honestly, is comfortable… and that’s all the compliments I have on its driving dynamics.. to the lunatic, scalpel weilding, corner murderer with 600hp that is the 63. I’ve never been so shocked by the difference in trim levels. Back when I had my W211S, I could get into a 350 or 550 and think, oh yeah, same car, mine just has an atom bomb under the hood.. the 213 is like an entirely different car from boggo to AMG in every way.

This is to say the C213 E400 is genuinely awesome, but it doesn’t have the same ‘magic’ that all mercs used to have. Pre 2010ish, they were all great, and an AMG was just an extra dose of awesome on top of it, but that feeling just doesn’t exist in the rest of the lineup anymore to me. I’m also mad at Mercedes for not selling an E63 coupe. I think the A205S is the best looking car Mercedes has made in.. a seriously long time, but it drives like hot garbage, the C213 is truly stunning, and the best you can get is (an admitedly very good) AMG-lite 🙁

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
4 months ago

Completely agree w/ your assessment –
I had a W213 E300 loaner – and it was big and comfortable – felt about the size of an old W116 – but the drive was “meh”.
I’ve had my eye on CPO A213s – with a light-colored interior, they’re quite elegant in almost every way, especially in what I call “Grandpa” trim. (sans the superfluous “AMG” drag & 4Matic.)

Gotta sell more houses this year because Daddy needs a newer Mercedes.

But not a CLE – Because did anyone ask for a larger photocopy of last year’s C Class coupe with 1997 Ford Escort ZX2 taillamps?
I sure didn’t.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I worked for MBUSA when the 213s came out.. I don’t know the color names anymore, but there were two interiors on the A/C213.. one burgundy over cream and the other navy blue over cream… genuinely the prettiest place I’ve ever sat in my life. I wish they were available on the W/S213 instead of the meh black, cream and nut brown it got instead. I’m partial to merlot on any Merc (as it seems all the older men driving C213s in my area are), it’s a stunning color irl, especially with the red/tan insides.

Also ZX2 ???? that’s exactly it. It looks cheap and tragic from the rear. Shame.

Myk El
Myk El
4 months ago

That sounds suspiciously similar to the day I took possession of my 2005 Holden Monaro Pontiac GTO. First time driving anything over 270 HP, and it has 400, and 3 pedals (I hadn’t driven a manual regularly in over a year). In the rain in a city I didn’t know well. The car has a way of trying to egg you on. “Come OOONNNN, GO FAAASTEEER!”

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

With great power comes great responsibility. And that is why I drive 100hp cars.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

At the same time, this presented a bit more of a risk than I’d bargained for. My first time out with big power, and it’s with three pedals and rear-wheel-drive on a slick rainy day. The visions flashed through my head from thousands of videos of Cars and Coffee past.

I’d bet money those incidents all have one thing in common: disabled traction control. Unless you do something really stupid, modern traction control is going to bail you out. I speak as someone with experience doing something stupid in a high power manual sports car on a wet road who got away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the TC.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ben
DysLexus
DysLexus
4 months ago

I certainly appreciate all the comments regarding horsepower to weight ratio and the fun driveability of high powered sports cars.

As a current Miata ND owner, the number one factor for me was “fun per dollar factor”.
I’d love a new M2 or old M3, but the purchase cost, maintenance cost, insurance cost, etc would eat me alive.

As old racers will ask you “how fast do you wanna spend?”

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
4 months ago

Seeing the word art in the header graphic, I am disappointed that this article wasn’t written by Mr. Hardigree. I hope that he at least has a “Mattitude” bumper sticker.

Dr. Asteroid
Dr. Asteroid
4 months ago

I used to drive a bright yellow Solstice GXP manual pushing 23lbs of boost. That little car would break the tires loose from a roll. In the rain? Good luck.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Dr. Asteroid

Fine choice.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

A lot of people here will laugh, but I never had even 200 hp until I stumbled into an early wrx in my mid 50s. Then I bought a Z3 M Roadster earlier this year. A sobering ride for the likes of me. I can so relate to what Lewin voiced in this article about constantly being aware that I’m one twitch of my right foot away from consequences. With no traction control & only one airbag in front of me, I am taking my time learning where the limits are.

and that’s only 240hp in a 3300lb (me in it) car. Definitely baby steps here.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Even 50 horsepower can get you into a lot of trouble if you are pushing a vehicle to its limits and don’t know what you’re doing, and/or get spotted by law enforcement hooning it about.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

My stepdad used to rally 800cc Minis through the forests of Sweden back in the ’60s. He felt the 38hp of that engine with those tires on the gravel roads was the perfect amount, more power would have been asking for trouble.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Did you or him ever get to try a Saab Sonnet?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

He’s a car guy so he might have.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Funny you should say that. Back in my air- & water-cooled VWs and crappy 80s Subaru days, I was constantly running under a restricted license/ having it suspended. I got a ticket for going 100mph up a locally notorious mountain in my Subaru XT, even!

Finally grew up some: last moving violation was in 09–and, when I play now, it’s on gravel or remote tight backroads: knowing there could be a farm truck around the next bend tends to slow me down a bit

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I never had 200hp until I purchased an Acura MDX for my wife in 2014, and not for myself personally until I bought a 2007 Suburban in 2017. My XJ6 nominally lists at just over 200, and my Fiesta ST lists at 197.

Then again, given the stupid things I do with the FiST and my propensity for catching up with BMWs on mountain roads in the Suburban it’s probably best that I don’t have excessive horsepower. Slow car fast for the win.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

(Thumbs up)
Honestly, if I were looking for just 1 car to have, the FiST would be very high on the list. I’m more comfortable with small cars I can throw around with abandon. I’ve never been in one, but liked the ergonomics of a friend’s ‘13 Focus*, and they supposedly pull well from 15 to 45 (which is what counts for me). Any downsides to yours? What makes you giggle every time?

*but not that awful lurching excuse for a transmission!

Last edited 4 months ago by TOSSABL
OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

As anyone who has paid attention to my commenting my love for the FiST is both incredibly strong and irrational. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys; it’s like having a little devil on your shoulder constantly urging you to do ridiculous things while having the absolute grandest time doing it.

For all the kvetching about Ford quality mine somehow has been absolutely 100% trouble free since I bought it in mid-2018. The interior doesn’t feel cheap and it has worn exceedingly well. It has the two pieces of tech I want (backup cam and the surprisingly effective Sync3 with Apple CarPlay) and none of the annoying nanny stuff. Even flogging the snot out of it I have averaged about 28mpg over the life of the car – not great compared to B-segment peers, but frankly not bad for a performance car. I got that sucker out the door for $19,500 – an absolute steal if you ask me, especially in this day and age of outrageous new vehicle pricing.

The big flaw in the Focus/Fiesta pair was of course the Powershi(f)t transmission, but in manual guise the Fiesta is a good car.

Pull from 15 to 45 (even a bit more)? That’s right where it lives and begs to be flogged. Low-ish speed antics are a joy. The ride is admittedly a bit buckboard-y, but that’s the price you pay for utterly impeccable handling. The steering is instinctive and responsive, there’s virtually no body roll, and it will predictably go right up to the limit without going wonky. Behavior at the limit amounts to very mild oversteer, which is absolutely perfect in my book (I hate understeering, plowing front-drive pigs with a passion). For those who know the roads up and down Palomar Mountain in the San Diego area I easily kept up with my son-in-law’s GR86, although admittedly that road has a lot of tighter curves and the horsepower deficit didn’t matter as much as outright handling. If I ever meet the Ford engineers who dialed in the FiST I’ll be happy to buy them multiple rounds of drinks.

Downsides? Well, I mentioned the ride for those who want things a little more plush. The biggest downside is practicality. Understand my platonic ideal of the perfect B-segment car would be a Honda Fit Si, but sadly they never saw fit to make one. The Fit is a marvel of interior space and practicality; the Fiesta, not so much. Rear seat and cargo space in the Fiesta is pretty severely compromised. The front seat passengers are very comfortable, but it’s effectively a cramped four-seater with no cargo space or a two-seater with a decent cargo area. I usually drive the Fiesta alone and I have the Suburban for carrying passengers and cargo so I simply don’t care.

I’ve prattled on long enough but if I ever get to do a user rides piece with Stef there will be lots to say about the Fiesta.

Last edited 4 months ago by OrigamiSensei
EXL500
EXL500
4 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

I have a 2015 Fit, and when my Social Security starts at 70 (ack – 1 year), a Fiesta ST is at the top of the list as a second car. It will be a battle with a Miata. A BMW 128i is in the ring too.

Last edited 4 months ago by EXL500
EXL500
EXL500
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

My current baby is the most powerful I’ve ever owned: 130 hp, 114 lb./ft. of torque.

Mike N.
Mike N.
4 months ago

I was very interested in getting one as my “last of the manual BMWs to keep forever” kind of car but now I’m more interested in the upcoming Z4 6MT. Lighter, better looking, and convertible.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike N.

That thing is going to grow up to be a Holy Grail. Just a ridiculously desirable car and I wish I was 5 years older/a little further along financially because I might be able to swing it.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

Get a 2019/2020 M4 convertible or coupe 6spd before the crazies start paying outrageous prices for them. Normal grill and the difference between the S55 & S58 is miniscule.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike N.

But sadly the Z4 will never get the S58, they say the car would be too difficult to control. Hogwash, sure the average Joe would struggle but OMG it would be amazing, with a 6spd it could possibly be the best BMW ever made. Call it the Z4M CS, only make 500, who cares just do it. Unfortunately BMW abandoned it’s enthusiast focus long ago, else they would do it as the last great thing before EVs only.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

As you know my BMW requirements are simple. RWD platform, straight 6. Manual would be nice too but it’s not like the autobox is a damn CVT or something….they’re essentially ZF8s or DCTs. A lot of journalists claim the S58 actually pairs better with the ZF8 than the manual but I would need to do my own research 😉

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

Go try to drive a DCT, Auto, and 6spd in the same visit, while that might be tough to accomplish at one location in one day LOL. I just can’t accept the ZF8 yet, I hooned a F90 one day and hated it, if it was DCT I would already gotten one. Sure the ZF8 is fine in my X7. I traded my 6spd M4 spring 22 for a DCT one so the wife could possibly drive it. After a few months I regretted and now looking to go back to the 6spd. But yeah that might just be me, I will not have the ZF8 in one of my cars until there are no other options, so I will stay in F8X and avoid the entire G8X gen.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I’ve daily’d DCTs for a while now. I live in DC and have to commute through some of the worst traffic in the entire country 3 days a week. For me/my non manual driving wife it’s a good compromise. I’ve driven my Kona N on the track and with everything in its craziest setting the dual clutch is a ton of fun/is really engaging between the shifts you can feel physically, the farts coming out of the exhaust, and the fact that Hyundai actually lets you smash it against the rev limiter whenever you want.

But if we move out to the country/burbs and/or I get a car that’s just for fun I’ll be going stick for sure. I just really don’t want to deal with one in rush hour. I know that’s lame, but whatever. I’m a grown ass man and I want to daily a DCT I will lol.

Last edited 4 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
4 months ago

You’re among friends here so you don’t have to apologize for the “heresy” of feeling that sitting in traffic getting a left leg workout on the clutch can get old real quick.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago

This thing is CHONKY at roughly 3,800 lbs. It weighs as much as a Mercedes 300 SDL I used to own, and that thing drove like a rolling bank vault.

I’d rather have a car with half the horsepower that also had half the mass and half the CdA value. It would end up with roughly the same acceleration performance, roughly half the fuel consumption, reduced materials cost, and greatly reduced operating expenses, while probably being able to corner much faster.

Last edited 4 months ago by Toecutter
Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Instead of save the manuals perhaps the effort should be focused on save the lightweight sports coupe. Especially when it’s the most compact model for a manufacturer, why can’t it be 3200-3400lbs instead of approaching 4000. I have a 340hp 3200lb car and a 450hp 3800lb one, I agree with you the difference and preference is to the less hp & lb one.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Even 3,200 lbs is too heavy. The modern Miata ND, built of conventional materials, passes FMVSS, and is slightly wider/taller than it needs to be to accommodate more rotund people, not only costs less than the average new car on the market, but is at 2,300-ish lbs.

Why can’t we have inexpensive sport coupes of similar weight and more powerful engines, but with a CdA value less than that of a 1st gen Honda Insight? Why does EVERYTHING have to have way too much road loading and mass for its application? Why does EVERYTHING have to look like everything else with oversized grilles, oversized wheels, massive creases everywhere, useless baroque styling cues, and all of this frivolous tech crap?

With current technology and in spite of modern safety standards, an inexpensive sub-2,500 lb RWD V8 sports coupe with good streamlining delivering 40+ mpg highway or a 200+ mile range EV equivalent is well within feasibility, but no one does it. The industry is that bereft of imagination, and those within it who possess it don’t even get to use it.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yeah, but I was being a little more realistic for a 4 seater coupe vs a roadster. I didn’t realize the Miata was still so light. Two buddies of mine; one just bought a new Z4 M40 and another a new Miata, the power of the BMW is double but 1000 lbs heavier. I am going to tell them to swap cars for a day and compare…. we’ll once next spring rolls around.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

The Alfa Romeo 4C is even lighter than the Miata since it extensively uses carbon fiber and cuts out all of the unnecessary crap most modern cars are slathered with, and also passed FMVSS when it was sold. Roughly 1,900 lbs. It could also accelerate similarly to the BMW M2, on about HALF the horsepower, thanks to having half the mass.

If I had the space to keep one, I’d buy me a 4C while they’re still “affordable”. I think they are only going to go up in value, because nothing like them is built today. It’s sort of like a modern equivalent to a classic Alfa Romeo TZ. I love them to death, regardless of the fact that it’s a car that wants to kill me.

Last edited 4 months ago by Toecutter
Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Hmmm… if only BMW had put money into carbon fiber frame technology 10+ years ago that they could of evolved into the base for the last non-EV M2 or Z4 for one last great coupe…..

Can you please go back into time and suggest this to them when they built the i3.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I would not be surprised if their own engineers suggested exactly that, only to be ignored. Were it not built in secret, we’d have never been gifted with the Clown Shoe.

The same could possibly be said for DeLorean’s Pontiac GTO at GM.

These companies love to stamp out any signs of creativity when they get the chance, often out of a desire to maximize short-term profits for the next quarterly report. The sickness is endemic across the entire auto industry, and every time it backfires with negative consequences, they get bailed out at taxpayer expense.

The i3 should NOT be the most innovative product produced by BMW in the last decade. But it is. They are capable of far greater things.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

4C values are what they are due to rarity only. The rate in which people initially turned them over is very high. Virtually NO ONE kept them. I’ve talked to so many people who tell me it’s for them, I smile and nod, and months later they’re done with it.

If you’ve driven enough stuff, you realize every last cent was spent on the monocoque and not much else. It sounds alright, but the shifter is meh and the suspension is super meh. On the plus side they are actually quite reliable, but compared to its peers it feels half-finished.

At least the Elise/Exige are mostly just known for frustrating packaging (DIY can be a challenge) and and being a bit delicate.

What is starting to happen with the 4C is there’s less turn now because they’re getting into the hands of the people who actually want them. So market churn is decreasing over time as “final owners” buy them.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

The shifter would have been better selected as a manual, IMO, although this becomes meaningless if it becomes an EV conversion with a 300-ish horsepower Tesla drive system swap and the car ends up at roughly original ICE mass with a 40 kWh pack in it. Not so concerned about suspension or operator/passenger comfort. A good sports car is supposed to beat its occupants to shit when going 10/10ths, otherwise that bit of comfort is unnecessary mass slowing you down.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I’m not talking about suspension in terms of comfort.

Go drive any Lotus or Porsche after the 4C, back to back, and tell me the 4C’s handling is in the same class. It’s not. Not even close.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

The Nurburgring lap times do tell that story. The M2 is nearly half a minute ahead of the 4C, in spite of being twice the mass with a similar power to weight ratio.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Because “EVERYTHING” is everything else on the road and nobody wants to be a bloody, mangled mess inside the tangled mess that used to be an “inexpensive sport coupe of similar weight of a 1st gen Honda Insight” while oversized “everything” gets to walk away.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

There’s a push to have zero fatalities in automobile accidents, but it isn’t really feasible. Stupid drivers will always find a way, and the amount of kinetic energy in a crash goes up with mass. I think the safety standards of 1990s were “good enough”. Accident deaths were greatly reduced over the pre-safety era of the 1960s, and we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns 20 years ago.

The biggest safety risk is all of these overly-subsidized massive road hippos on the road, making things less safe for everyone(especially cyclists and pedestrians) necessitating even tougher standards.

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

and we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns 20 years ago.

That simply isn’t true, as I laid out in comments on an article here a few days ago. Cars 20 years ago lacked multistage and supplemental airbags, advanced crumple zone design, and electronic crash avoidance features. My wife is not a cripple today because her crash took place in a MY2016 vehicle that had these things.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Around 1991, fatalities per mile travelled reached a relative low in rate of change. The fatality rate per unit of distance travelled has gone down roughly 25% between then and today, whereas from 1981 to 1991, it roughly halved, and similarly dramatic drop occurred between 1971 and 1981.

https://imgur.com/y5hvlyp

That said, everything helps. But we we’ve certainly been at a point of diminishing returns over the last 30 years, looking at the above graph.

Last edited 4 months ago by Toecutter
V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Fatalities should not be the only measure of safety benefits IMO.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I tried to find statistics on serious injuries/VMT vs year, but couldn’t find the data.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Without even reading the article, I will say that this issue is multifaceted.

Distracted drivers staring at their ironically-named smart devices, which are on average increasingly older(reduced reaction time), which are increasingly drugged up on prescription medications, and in vehicles that keep becoming both heavier and larger in volume with increasing ride height.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Among other things:

“The report claims that many factors contribute to annual changes in pedestrian fatality figures with economic conditions, population growth, demographic changes, weather conditions and fuel prices all playing a role. Darkness is also a factor and in 2017, 75% of all pedestrian fatalities occurred at nighttime. The steady growth of pedestrian deaths in recent years might also be attributable to a shift in U.S. vehicle sales away from passenger cars to light trucks that prove far more dangerous for people on foot. Another contributing factor could be the large growth in cellphone use over the past decade which can prove a significant source of distraction for all road users.”

Mr E
Mr E
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

How bizarre that this car weighs around 200 pounds more than my Mustang GT.*

*I’ve never hit a pedestrian.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

It weighs as much as my S4, which has 4 doors and AWD.

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago

I submit that most “slow car fast” people have never actually driven a fast car fast, because there is no substitute.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah and props to Lewin for taking it easy slowly learning the car and not pushing it too much too soon. It’s not just the power specs, but the S58/55 turbos can be tricky and get you in trouble real fast.

Put your local Altima demon in this and they would prolly be dead within 5 mins, at a minimum the car would be.

Mocamino
Mocamino
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’ve owned and enjoyed an MG Midget, I’ve driven (but not owned) a Ferrari 458, and many iterations in-between. While I agree that the 458 was the most fun I’ve ever had on wheels, I have to say I’d want something in-between for my daily. The Ferrari was clearly capable of more than my driving skills could claim, but it was obvious to me that if I owned one, I’d follow in the tracks of Joe Walsh singing “My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive.”

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Mocamino

The MG Midget needs an LS swap. THAT would make for a fun and surprisingly fuel efficient daily.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I liked the Roadkill Garage one with the Mustang 5.0 in it!

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Thank you for the mention. I’m going to have to look that one up.

Turd Ferguson
Turd Ferguson
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Hotrod garage. Season 5 , episode 8

Mocamino
Mocamino
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Honestly I’d love to have one with a five speed and a Chevy 4.3. Plenty of power there for a lightweight, tossable car.

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago
Reply to  Mocamino

I think there is middle ground between spouting clichés about Miatas and MGs and daily driving a Ferrari.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

But consider this, the M2 in this article is on the level of a Ferrari F40…..

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Because the F40 has a lower CdA value and slightly more power than the M2, it can also top 201 mph, vs the 180 mph of the M2. The F40 does have a superior power-to-weight ratio, but the M2 has a broader torque curve thanks to improved engine technology, so their 0-60 mph times are close.

I bet on a curvy mountain road with lots of inclines, the F40’s lower mass would make it the victor there in a road race between the two.

Last edited 4 months ago by Toecutter
Mocamino
Mocamino
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

That’s fair, there absolutely is. For a lot of most people, though, the reality is they’re never going to have the opportunity to drive a car at the level of a Ferrari or a McLaren. (I am blessed to have a wife that bought me an afternoon at an exotic car experience.) So for the cost difference between “slow car fast” and “fastest car I could possibly afford to buy” (say between a cheap-ish Miata and used C6 Vette”), the level of additional fun they experience with the faster, more expensive car may well not be incrementally greater enough to make it worth the extra expense for them. There is a great deal of joy to be had on either side of that equation, IMO.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Interesting take.. I think it’s contextual though.. I agree there’s no real substitute for actual, genuine speed but if it’s a choice between driving, say, your Viper around town knowing it’s capable of much more than laws and space allow or driving a stick-shift economy hatch at 100% throttle between every stoplight I think I’d take the economy car. Now a track or empty backroad? Forget that low horsepower sh-t!

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

I agree that everything is context dependent to an extent.

That said, some people seem to genuinely believe that an NA Miata or similar is the most fun that exists on four wheels. I can certainly appreciate the appeal of those small, light cars, but those people are wrong.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

The Miata needs more power and stouter mechanicals. Its horsepower could likely be doubled without much weigh penalty or added cost to accommodate the extra grunt, and by doing so, it would be able to punch well above its weight.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

The Miata’s bigger “issue” is its designed ethos. It’s not trying to be super quick or super precise. It’s trying to be a riot you can daily.

Out of the box, the Miata is a 4/10ths car. The suspension is deliberately soft because of, “jinba attai.” The joke is you turn the wheel, wait for the car to fall over and to settle, then make your mid-corner adjustment. It can be very fun, because of those exaggerated movements. It can be rewarding when you minimize them by being completely focused and precise. It’s what makes it fun as a commuter, because you can be foot to the floor, it feels slightly ridiculous, slightly unsettling, yet has good controls.

They’re much more serious with coilovers, brakes, wheels and tires … granted most cars are more serious with those things. What the Miata has going for it is it’s cheap to buy (compared to other options), cheap to run, cheap to insure, and has cheap consumables. For a lot of people, it’s enough fun to do the job, at the right price. It’s why I drove one for nearly 9 years while I figured out what I actually wanted long term.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
3 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

A Miata w/ a LS engine is pretty entertaining. Needs bigger brakes and a stouter suspension. Gets decent but not better than a Corvette due to the aerodynamics. Tire size is limited w/o cartoonish sized flares. Too bad California will not allow an NC to be so swapped.

Toecutter
Toecutter
3 months ago
Reply to  Hondaimpbmw 12

Even given that it would lose 400+ lbs over a C5 Corvette, it is no surprise that a Miata would get similar or even worse fuel economy than a C5 Corvette with the same engine because its aerodynamics are worse than the C5. Cartoonish fender flares will hurt economy and potential top speed, and really should be avoided, IMO.

A Miata-sized streamliner with a VW XL1 Cd value and an LS1 engine could probably exceed 50 mpg highway. With an NA V8.

If automakers really wanted to save V8 ICE cars and/or make affordable EVs that provide long range on small battery packs, this is one way they could do it. But they’d rather maintain the same tired paradigm of planned obsolescence they’ve forced on everyone for over a century.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

As an NA Miata owner and apologist, this is the right take. I enjoy the hell out of my Miata, but I would never say no to something with 4X the power-to-weight ratio. There’s no right way to have fun with a car, and at some point the “slow car fast” ethos turns into this kind of insecure MY FUN IS BEST FUN thing.

Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago

We need a car with “slow car” horsepower that uses mass reduction and drag reduction to have “fast car” performance.

The Opel Eco Speedster concept could top out at 160 mph on only 112 horsepower, thanks to its aerodynamic streamlining. It also got 94 mpg US on the European highway cycle. It weighed about 1,600 lbs using carbon fiber, and used a 1.2L CDTI turbodiesel.

Now imagine such an efficient platform but instead made with conventional materials and with a Corvette engine. You’d have a sub-2,500 lb hypercar that was ALSO a halo car for fuel economy, and it could be made out of standard GM parts-bin components to keep cost down.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
4 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

As an engineer who’s done road load simulations, I always love your proposals. There’s nothing technically unachievable about them. I think the biggest compromise with them is creature comfort. Once you start adding sound deadening to the chassis, hydraulic mounts to the engine, power seats, etc, the chassis and suspension starts adding weight to accommodate, and what you end up with is essentially an eco-modded V8 Mustang.

If someone offered something like a streetable, aero-optimized Exocet kit though? They can take my internet money yesterday.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sensual Bugling Elk
Toecutter
Toecutter
4 months ago

An Exocet streamliner with a 1.9L TDI engine chip tuned to like 300 horsepower would be lunacy! AND it could approach 100 mpg highway. It should also be possible to build a sub-2,000 lb EV that uses under 100 Wh/mile to hold 70 mph on flat ground. Using a single Koenigsegg Dark Matter motor/control system at 800 horsepower with some LoneStar Sleepercell batteries would be more than a bit nuts!

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

I’ve taken an NA Miata on a backroad blast and I’ve taken a 6th Camaro SS on a backroad blast. I’m honestly not even sure if I necessarily preferred one over the other. They’re both a great time. Unfortunately the Camaro was an automatic but what can you do, rental fleets only buy autos.

And I’m biased but I actually think the 300ish horsepower/low 3,000s is a sweet spot in modern cars. That’s where the CTR/Integra Type S and all of the N cars are and it makes for very usable power. They’re on the slow end of fast/fast end of quick and lithe enough that you can really throw them around.

It’s also not quite enough power that you’ll wind up accidentally going 120 on a public road either. I’ve hit a speed camera or two since getting mine but I seem to be able to beat the shit out of it without going too far. As much as I’d love a 400+ horsepower I’m not sure if I trust myself to be able to handle it responsibly every single day.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
4 months ago

This is where I bring up my annual grievance that horsepower per ton is a far more useful metric than just horsepower and ought to be listed front and center in every car review. 200 HP/ton is about double my Miata, and my butt dyno tells me that would be my happy place too. Enough power to create trouble but still low enough to keep an approachable limit.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

“Fast car fast” may have no substitute, however it also has no place on most public roads.

Save that for the track. Or the Autobahn.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

I definitely agree with the overall premise of this article. It is, in fact, pretty intoxicating to get your hands on serious power for the first time…and I think a lot of folks will agree with me when I say that it’s more entertaining to have a car that adds a little bit of danger to the experience. At the end of the day it asks more of you, it demands respect, and it means you have to work on learning it before you go HAM.

This is why a lot of AWD luxury performance cars and EVs don’t necessarily appeal to me as much. There’s only so much joy to be gleaned from blasting in a straight line. Yeah, it’s cool the first couple of times, but it’s not an experience that’s hard to find or replicate.

I’d much rather go dancing on a curvy backroad or track with a car that asks more of me. It’s one of the reasons why I traded in my GTI for my Kona N. All the electronic safety nannies in that car basically locked out the last 25% of fun. The N not only provides them, but goads you into reaching them. That last 25% is what makes or breaks a lot of cars for me personally and I appreciate vehicles that make me work for it and don’t tug on your collar telling you “this is a bad idea, we shouldn’t do this” the entire time.

Anyway I really like the current M2. The weight is definitely a bit of a bummer but if you think of it like a German pony car it starts to make a lot more sense. It’s meant to be more of a brute. Embrace it and have fun. I’d love to have a go in it but I don’t think I could test drive one without leaving with it and my pregnant wife would not be pleased with me rolling up in a $60,000 manual, RWD coupe that gets 16 MPG in the city.

Last edited 4 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
4 months ago

I remember Fancy Kristen writing that driving a 700HP Mustang was the equivalent of “automotive blue balls” because you can’t really use that power on the street. Lewin captures the other side of that coin really nicely in this piece: yeah it’s too much power but that’s sometimes the point. There’s genuine excitement in the danger of being able to unleash chaos with your right foot, and satisfaction in riding that limit with a willing car.

I’m also enjoying journalists coming back around to the idea that BMW has been making fantastic enthusiast cars this whole time. It’s easy to point and laugh at the grille, but it turns out there’s a lot of ass-kicking being done under those derpy front and rear fascias.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

I’m a bit of a Bimmer fanboy so I’m not exactly unbiased but I’ve been saying this for years. Yeah, the grilles are getting ridiculous, some of their super gaudy high end stuff is just fuel for the conspicuous consumption crowd, and I too would love if they still made a bunch of 3,000 pound, RWD, straight 6 cars.

But the pervasive idea that they completely lost the plot is silly to me. The M2, M3, and M4 are all manual, rear wheel drive cars in their base form. Hell they’re putting a manual in the Z4 M40i now and offering two exclusive greens for it. How cool is that? Is that not enthusiast friendly?

My ideal roadster is some variation of BRG, a tan interior, two seats, rear wheel drive, and a stick. If I had 60 grand to drop on a toy I’d be ordering one as soon as the books open…speaking of which, BMW actually lets you do that. You can walk into a dealership and order a car with whatever specifications you want…and if it’s made in Spartanburg or Mexico you can do a whole weekend event in SC where you can pick it up that I believe includes track driving and instruction.

Suffice to say I don’t think BMW ever lost the plot. They just evolved and decided to offer stuff for normies too. And that’s fine! It pays the bills. Everyone bitched about the Porsche Cayenne and the Macan when they first came out but they’ve been retconned as desirable already and they allow them to build crazy shit like the Cayman GT4 RS, 911 ST, etc.

If BMW needs to move a bunch of X7s and iXs to give us a green or purple manual roadster with a straight 6 that shares the platform with the Supra then so be it.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago

The Cayenne is one of the most impressive pieces of foresight I can think of.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

The German cars have become such pigs, I really do not understand why, they focused on it a little with the F90 but never again. Though an M2 with 450hp and only says 3400lbs could be terrifying. Consider this, the new M2 is only 200lbs lighter than the E60 M5, 1 inch wider ?!? and 10 inches shorter, I don’t understand why it is so large.

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
4 months ago

Regarding the weight – lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth over that curb weight, but as Chris Harris said in his review, it’s just a number on a piece of paper. It really doesn’t FEEL as heavy as it is. There are some occasions when you notice a bit of heft, but for the most part, it feels much lighter on its feet than you’d think by just reading the specs.

In my personal opinion, the G87 is a much better overall car than the F87 that everyone loves so much. The F87 was (is) a lot of fun, but the G87 feels much more composed and a bit more mature, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

Everyone rants and raves about how the Camaro SS is an amazing track car/driving experience (because it is) and it weighs almost the exact same amount, is a full 8 inches longer, and has less usable interior and trunk space. I genuinely do not understand why so many people are still bitching about its size and weight incessantly.

Think of it as a German pony car and it all makes perfect sense.

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
4 months ago

I wouldn’t draw a direct comparison between the G87 and cars like the Mustang or Camaro, but it’s definitely more comparable to those cars than say, a Miata or a Toyobaru.

In any case, it’s fun to read all the hate from people who have never even driven the damn thing. It’s ugly. It’s chonky. The manual gearbox sucks. All I can say is that it’s a much better package in real life than it appears to be on paper.

Spaghetti
Spaghetti
4 months ago

Chevy doesn’t also build a sedan and a bigger coupe on the Camaro platform.

The M2, M3 and M4 all weigh about the same. If the coupe is going to weigh just as much as the sedan, what’s the point?

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago

Would agree with M2 pony/muscle comparison. The Germans have basically been making contemporary pony/muscle cars since the early 2000s. RS4/M4/M3/M2/C AMG are just “small” cars with massive engines. M5 especially is the extremely expensive version of a Hellcat.

As far as the big AWD bois go I can see their merits. At our local AutoX/RallyX there are Tesla Model 3s that show up all of the time. Although I am a total hater I gotta give it to them: those things scoot. Seems like they handle incredibly well, and one of the Model 3s usually beats everyone except maybe a caged racecar and a fire-spitting Evo.

I don’t think weight actually matters as much as we wish it did. Seems like the big cars with the power-to-weight of a Miata end up going about as fast as the Miatas.

On backroads the way to use that power and traction is slow in, fast out.

Last edited 4 months ago by PL71 Enthusiast
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