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.
BMW has announced a successor to the popular M235i and M240i Racing models in the form of the M2 Competition. While the first cars are slated for delivery in the second quarter of 2020, they will see their first public race test during round 5 of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring on August 3rd, 2019.
The “M235i Racing” customer racing model proved to be highly successful in Europe and the U.S. Introduced to the U.S. in 2016, Toby Grahovec drove his Classic BMW M235iR to the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship that year. Customer orders were fulfilled in the second half of 2016 and I personally raced one in 2017 for Rooster Hall Racing, securing Rookie of the Year honors that season. Now in their 4th year in the U.S., the SRO TC America class is dominated by the M235iR and M240iR models. In the opening round, 14 of the 17 entrants were in the BMWs.
While the current-generation BMW 2 Series isn’t ready for the grave, the company intends to put its next incarnation into assembly by 2021. That’s ages away for a consumer but precious little time for an automaker to make production decisions.
Likely spooked by potential trade issues looming over the horizon, BMW is reportedly considering shifting the America-bound 2 Series to a Mexican plant — specifically, the company’s new San Potosi facility, home of the new 3 Series.
With BMW’s M2 Competition coming aboard to succeed the well-respected M2, shaving a quarter of a second off its 0-to-60 time in the process, we figured the brand would put the model on the back burner for a while. However, earlier this week an M2 test mule was spied on the Nürburgring by Motor1.
The outlet surmised that this was likely a prototype for a high performance CS or CLS variant, but we remained uncertain. For all we knew BMW was simply testing new pieces from its performance parts catalog and felt the need to disguise them with some body-colored tape. Then, a few days later, rumors emerged that a production date had already been set for the M2 CS.
You aren’t going to see a lot of televised commercials for the BMW M2 Competition, as it’s an enthusiast car of the highest magnitude. A thirty-second spot in the middle of a popular sitcom doesn’t provide adequate time to run through a laundry list of performance specs for car nerds, and the blanketed marketing approach wouldn’t really be cost-effective, anyway. BMW needs a surgical strike, something viral that can be passed around the internet between the sort of people that actually might consider owning an M2.
That’s what makes its new marketing campaign for the model so good. Outside of offering the most fun you can have inside a car while wearing pants, the M2 isn’t setting any automotive records. It is, however, taking a stab at world records set by humans. Earlier this month, the automaker hooked up a laser to the front of the vehicle to see how many balloons it could pop in a single minute. A week later, it released another video in which it attempted to cut down 116 straw poles with a samurai sword.
We don’t need to tell you that attaching lasers and swords to a car’s exterior is very awesome. And it’s that feeling — like the whole ad campaign was dreamed up by an eight-year-old — that makes for an appealing gimmick.
While old school BMW enthusiasts love to criticize their favorite brand for spoiling itself with electronic steering and sacrificing fun for technology, proponents of other automakers claim Bavarian Motor Works has flat out ruined itself. However, the truth of the matter is that BMW still offers an array of suburb performance vehicles that many still find highly desirable — especially if their name begins with the letter M.
Even if the brand can’t use “The Ultimate Driving Machine” quite so liberally in 2018, it would be an untruth to suggest the M division is ignoring the well-heeled enthusiast community. But it doesn’t hurt to have a physical reminder, so BMW sent a rolling example of its motorsport catalog to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The “M Performance Parts Concept” is based on the lovely little M2, which was recently replaced by the more hardcore M2 Competition, and serves as a reminder that the German automaker has a genuine interest in building highly competent performers — and will help you take them to the next level for a fee.
For a long time BMW was being accused of losing its touch when it came to building the “ultimate driving machine.” People would gripe that the company’s tech was overshadowing driving enjoyment. That may be true to some degree but you could usually point them to the M division and tell them not to worry.
However, most people don’t have the kind of money required to facilitate the purchase of an M3 — and if they don’t have the cash for that, then they definitely aren’t going to pick up the superb M5. But that’s okay because BMW eventually built the M2 and it’s probably the best car in its lineup.
That’s why we are somewhat surprised to learn BMW will be giving the fun-loving coupe a dirt nap, replacing it with the more hardcore “M2 Competition.” It’s not a new car in the strictest sense, but it is a slightly different mindset.
Tuners and researchers have searched for ways to pull data from cars and modify it ever since the introduction of the first on-board computer in the late 1960s. The advent of fuel injection and computer-controlled engines in the 1990s brought computerized tuning front and center. And while the OBD2 standard — made mandatory in 1996 —standardized the interface and made it easier to read diagnostics and log some parameters, modification and advanced logging was still complicated and expensive.
Professional tools and open source hardware popped up in the past decade to allow deeper access into a car’s electronics, but most ready-made products were still expensive. Open source variants also required knowledge of soldering and programming. Now, Macchina has taken the best of both worlds and packaged it into an inexpensive product that should prove useful for researchers as well as tuners.
For decades BMW worked tirelessly to cultivate a reputation for building performance machines that could hit above their weight classes. Although the 2002 is a well-regarded classic, and the homologation special M1 is a bonafide supercar of its era, it wasn’t until the debut of the E30 M3 in 1986 that BMW’s high-performance road cars really started to find favor with the general public.
In recent years, BMW has sought to recapture some of that E30 magic with cars like the M235i and the 1M before it. While both of those models have their virtues, they fall short of the mark largely by way of an unidentifiable, intangible element. After a stint behind the wheel of the M2, I discovered that “fun” is that elusive character trait, because this car has it in spades.
On paper, the BMW M2 should deliver the full-boat of M-division goodies above the M235 — a car that has plenty of promise and fun, albeit at a price.
The M2, which BMW unveiled Tuesday, sports a fully fledged, electronically controlled rear differential, a modified oil sump, more power, wider stance and six-speed manual as standard. It tickles all the right notes for the well-heeled Munich enthusiast.
But the official announcement left plenty of questions about the car, which will go on sale next spring.
You think U.S. car makers suffer from brand confusion? Come to China! China’s Chery for instance is known for their low-cost cars, especially for their ubiquitous el cheapo QQ. In order to venture into more upscale segments, Chery launched a number of brands, amongst them Rely (for SUVs, get it?), Karry (for minivans and pick-ups, get it?) and Riich (for upscale models, get it?) Now, the confusion starts.
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