By on August 8, 2019

2019 BMW M2 Competition front quarter

2019 BMW M2 Competition Coupe

3.0-liter turbocharged inline six (405 hp @ 5230 rpm, 406 lb-ft @ 2,350 rpm)

Six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive

18 city / 25 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

13.4 city / 9.6 highway / 11.7 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

19.7 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $59,895 US / $73,854 CAD

As Tested: $64,145 US/ $75,099 CAD

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,604 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Water always finds a way. Our land masses are shaped by the movement of glaciers over millennia. Our geopolitical lines are often defined by bodies of water, be it a lake, river, or ocean. Importantly to this audience, many of our greatest roads owe little to a civil engineer and all to the meander of a mountain stream.

Water finds a way, trickling from the hillside to create a damp path across one of those roadways, just over a blind ridge beyond which a sextet of motorcyclists have stopped in the middle of a narrow roadway to discuss something most certainly of incredible importance.

Turns out other liquids find a way, too, as a wee bit of wee might have leaked as I engaged any number of acronym-laden safety mechanisms designed in Bavaria to prevent headlines such as “Journalist Slaughters Six.” With the slightest sideways step, the 2019 BMW M2 Competition heeled and heeded my commands upon the two leftmost pedals, and after a few minutes to reset my blood pressure and mutter contempt for the idiot bikers, I proceeded to enjoy the rest of my drive with a massive grin.

2019 BMW M2 Competition profile

I do wish I had some legitimate competition with which I could test the M2 Competition, but a day in the Hocking Hills will have to do. Here, the perfectly balanced rear-drive chassis shines. While the ride is firm in daily driving, it’s by no means punishing. On the back roads, however, this BMW is a jewel, turning with ease via both the wheel and the throttle.

2019 BMW M2 Competition center stack

The six-speed manual transmission is one of the best-shifting ‘boxes I’ve ever encountered. It’s not as light and carefree as that in a Miata, but I always found the right gear without a single mis-shift or catching between gates. The three pedals have clearly been placed with care – heel-toe maneuvers while downshifting are cake, even though the engine will automatically match revs.

2019 BMW M2 Competition front seat

I was able to manage – with a struggle – to use the M2 Competition as a family car. Once the kids got into the rear seats, they were reasonably comfortable, though the eldest did cant her head to the side to keep her noggin from the headliner. Rear legroom, too, was at a premium.

2019 BMW M2 Competition rear seat

No matter – this isn’t the family crossover. The M2 Competition is for the driver who might occasionally have to pick the kids up after returning from work, but normally would drive solo or two-up. For comfortable daily duty with weekend jaunts to the hills or the racetrack, there are few better cars.

2019 BMW M2 Competition interior

The front seats, after all, feel perfectly formed to my body. While the drive to the best roads from my home is a bit over an hour of freeway, I felt as if I could stay in the seat all day. Subtle orange accents and stitching that match the marvelous Sunset Orange Metallic exterior is a wonderful touch.

2019 BMW M2 Competition front

The proportions of the M2 Competition are a bit jarring to some – the short overall length and wide fenders seem at odds with the tall greenhouse. All that glass means it’s easy to see all four corners when placing the sticky Michelins. But every line seems purposeful, with vents and inlets everywhere to feed and cool the beast.

2019 BMW M2 Competition rear

There have been precious few times in the several years I’ve been testing cars where, given my own money, I’d choose to buy basically the exact car I’d sourced from the press fleet. Indeed, this may be the first instance. The only options fitted to this car are the $1,200 executive package (wireless charging, WiFi hotspot, heated steering wheel, and adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams), the $2,500 M Driver’s Package, which raises the speed limiter and admits the owner to a high-performance driving class, and the $550 Sunset Orange Metallic paint. That paint is incredible, catching the light differently depending on the time of day.

2019 BMW M2 Competition rear quarter

I’ve never been a wide-eyed BMW fanatic, unlike those who add tricolor slashes in their email signatures anywhere the letter M appears. I can’t overlook the serious flaws that persisted for years, such as the papier-mâché cooling systems on the E36-chassis 3 Series, or the Nikasil-plagued V8. Conversely, I can’t ignore the decades of success various BMW platforms have experienced across many motorsports disciplines.

2019 BMW M2 Competition grille

Recall that much of the “BMW as archetypical sports sedan” myth was written by a copywriter-turned-journalist in 1968. While indeed the early compact sedans from Bavaria were properly fun cars, they weren’t the first, nor were they miles better than the competition.

2019 BMW M2 Competition wheels

I must applaud BMW for (mostly) maintaining a rear-drive layout throughout its sedan lineup. That alone has converted enthusiasts looking for the traditional package for fun. And what fun! This BMW M2 Competition has seemingly been built strictly to induce smiles from the driver’s chair. Click the engine over to Sport Plus mode, and the exhaust baffles open to unleash pops and grumbles that delight the driver’s ear. I can’t help but think that the rear tires, at 265mm wide and mounted on 10-inch wide rims, could have been wider – but that would spare the driver from a bit of tail-wagging on corner exit.

2019 BMW M2 Competition tailgate badge

Plus, wider tires are a bit more prone to hydroplaning. I’m happy with the grip I have in the M2 Competition when water finds its own way.

2019 BMW M2 Competition badge

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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34 Comments on “2019 BMW M2 Competition Review – Still Waters Run Deep...”

  • avatar

    Glad you got to drive a 6 speed. I found the DCT in this car unbearable in traffic. Was ready to give it back to the dealership after 5 minutes. That was the first performance oriented DCT I ever drove and it did not give me a lot of confidence that I would enjoy them as a manual or torque convertor auto alternative (worried about you C8)

    I’m also not the one who usually complains about cars getting too expensive, but $65k really seems like a lot for what you get here. Didn’t these start at $49,995 just a couple of years ago?

    • 0 avatar

      @jack4x: Do you mean the DCT in this M2 Comp version specifically, and what about it was unbearable to you? Because the DCT in the regular M2 is perfectly fine, in traffic or otherwise.

      • 0 avatar

        The car I drove was a Competition, but I’ve never driven a standard M2 to compare.

        My complaint is no different than what I’ve read about performance oriented DCTs in general, that they are jerky at slow speeds, almost as if a beginner is driving a stick shift. And yes, I’ve heard that if you modulate the gas when creeping along, that you can smooth that out. But if I’m willing to put in that effort, why not just spring for the manual in the first place? If I’m driving an auto car, I want it to do the shifting for me.

  • avatar

    Here it is – the one, last holdout, real BMW. Three pedals, manual transmission, real analog gauges, two doors, and an undiluted M badge front and back. And it isn’t white or a shade of grey! The M3/4/5 models have gotten too large, overloaded with tech, and really expensive!
    Have to give BMW props for doing this as the rest of their lineup doesn’t seem to stir the soul like it used to.

  • avatar

    So, in May you reviewed a GT350. The Shelby and the M2 are almost lockstep in price for 2019.
    Which one did you like more?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      I’m torn.

      The GT350 certainly feels more “special.” Louder, more raucous, more (to use an outdated metaphor from the old rags) “hairy chested.”

      It’s more work to drive daily, while the M2 Comp drives like a 3-series in traffic.

      I’d like time on track with both back to back, but it’s a tough question – one that I might answer differently depending on the day.

      • 0 avatar

        Chris, how about the M2 compared to the ATS-v you reviewed recently? Specifically in terms of ride, handling and design.

        I have an ATS-v on an expiring lease and have considered an M2 as a replacement. Technically the M4 would be comparable but in real world prices, the M2 is what you can get from BMW for the same price as the ATS-v OTD

  • avatar

    So its base price is roughly the same as the new C8 Corvette.

    Just sayin’…

  • avatar

    “The proportions of the M2 Competition are a bit jarring”

    I find the opposite – this is the BEST looking BMW available today. Plus its right sized as the 3 series has become bloated.

    Good call on the rear tires, they should be 285-295 for track work. As a daily the 265 are likely fine but even my 350Z with much less power had no trouble breaking the same size lose. Now my C7 Z51 rides on 285 from the factory but I’ve gone to 305 out back now, given its got 55 more HP/TQ from the V8 then BMWs boosted 6. Seems no matter how much tire you have you always want more… at least on track.

    • 0 avatar

      Best looking BMW hasn’t been a compliment in decades. This has the proportions of the old 318Ti, even if the dimensions are in the ballpark of 3-series past.

    • 0 avatar

      + a lot.

      Far and away the best looking BMW in a long time. Long and low works for Astons and V12 Ferraris, but German cars should have more upright, rallyish proportions. As well as decently tall greenhouses and low beltlines.

      Any wider tires, and you’d likely need exotic rims and light, or sillysoft, tires to prevent unsprung weight from overwhelming the suspension and chassis on anything bumpier than a smooth track. Anything wider also tend to tramline badly on normal roads.

      I really like the way BMW designed and specced this one. It’s a proper, usable car, that’s still fast and furious enough even for occasional track days. Not some silly track toy to drive around looking like a clown in.

  • avatar

    Yes, I think that this is what I think of when I think BMW 3-series. It looks good, sporty, a little aggressive, and the right size. I don’t like the screen on the dash, though. Corvette price range ? That’s OK, some people will still prefer a good-looking sedan.

  • avatar

    Long-time (well-documented) Bimmer aficionado here, and the 2 Series is probably the only new BMW model I’d even consider, assuming I had the financial means to buy a new BMW, of course. Maybe when the kid is off to college and we’re empty-nesters in five years…sigh. Small (ish), two-door, rear drive AND a manual trans. As the Bavarian gods intended before BMW went all “lifestyle and lease” mode.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I enjoyed my m3 competition but this could be more fun. The 3 was kind of big but was well laid out for the driver, even Though BMW made it feel heavy for no reason. So many cars don’t let you pull the steering wheel out far enough.

    Chris, if you remember driving the last gen 3 series, was the driver’s space comparable? Some BMWs have tough ergonomics for tall people (looking at you, e39). I wonder if it comes in cloth like the 3’s did…

  • avatar

    I had more fun in M2 than in any other car.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife test drove one (out of our price range new, but considered CPO) and she reported the experience was incredible. She needed to drive one as a point of comparison for other sporty 2 door coupes we were looking at. We got an Infiniti Q60.

      • 0 avatar

        Am I the only one who’d have VERY serious reservations about buying any BMW M, AMG, Cadillac V or Audi S/RS model used?

        In a few years, I’ll probably want to ditch my A3 in favor of something like an S3 or S4, but then I wonder: what kind of abuse did the first owner inflict on it? Lord only knows.

        (Good move on the Q60, BTW…VERY underrated car, far as I’m concerned.)

        • 0 avatar

          “what kind of abuse did the first owner inflict on it?”

          A used high-dollar European vehicle is going to be a temperamental thing no matter what, but I would not be too worried about prior abuse on a 1-owner example. The majority of first owners of $60K+ performance cars are usually rich and old. Mostly putzing around between golf courses and client lunches. An occasional on-ramp blast isn’t going to hurt anything.

          If anything you’ll see problems because these cars *didn’t* get the workout they were designed for (see below).

          • 0 avatar

            Good point. While I was looking at my car, I was (briefly) entertaining stuff like lightly used WRXs, and invariably, they smelled like Eau de Juul inside. Not a good sign.

            Maybe the higher dollar stuff is better in this regard.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not convinced there’s such a thing as a “lightly used” WRX. I can hardly think of any vehicle I would less like to be the second owner of.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a “lightly used” WRX. Hard to think of any vehicle I’d rather not be the second owner of.

          • 0 avatar

            Depends on the European vehicle and the place. Around here, the S3 and S4 are THE vehicles of choice for those douchebros (and there are many) who fancy themselves too successful for a WRX. Honorable mention to the C63 for the really rich ones.

            Be extra sensitive to mechanical and acoustic warning signs when test driving a used one of these.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I’m far more likely to take that plunge in a manual equipped car vs. a dual clutch auto.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        We’re in the same boat and Q60 is in contention, but it’s a little bit too long (it’s longer than our family SUV that I get to drive).

    • 0 avatar

      I had more fun in either a Volvo 940 wagon or a Mini Cooper. Girl was the same.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a ’16 M235i for a couple of years. I liked it a lot but didn’t really love it. Was great for the month I had it in Europe, but frustrating in the US where you can’t use the power. I tried the M2 when it first came out and really didn’t care for it – cranked up to “11” is not how I want my car to be all the time. Too harsh, too nervous. Yes, I am getting old.

      I traded the M235i for a ’17 GTI Sport and infinitely prefer the VW. More practical by far, and just more me. Though my ’11 328! wagon is still by far my favorite car.

  • avatar

    It’s a fun car but I think the M240i is the better buy. Basically just as good in everyday use while saving you a ton of money.

  • avatar

    Love the reference to the David E. Davis 2002 article – say what you will about the guy, but he could f**king write.

  • avatar

    I like how the infotainment screen is integrated into the dash in the new 3s and 5s, instead of this.

    The rest of it sure looks like how these used to be, before they dumbed these down for badge snobs.

    But the CarPlay sub would still give me pause! (Well, I’d do the 20-year deal as a closer, or have the dealer throw in floor mats and a hat.)

  • avatar

    I want to retrofit those seats into my E90 M3.

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