The 2023 BMW M2 is the latest and greatest iteration of the compact sports coupe that has earned the reputation of being the ultimate driving machine. The new M2 ZA version is based on the second-generation 2 Series, but it gets a host of upgrades from the larger and more powerful BMW M3 and BMW M4 models. The result is a car that delivers exhilarating performance, agile handling, and stunning looks while also offering a comfortable and refined ride for everyday use.
A Beast Under the Hood
The heart of the 2023 BMW M2 ZA version is the S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine that also powers the BMW M3 and BMW M4. In the M2, it produces 453 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful M2 ever. Compared to the previous-generation BMW M2 CS, which had 444 horsepower and 406 pound-feet, the new M2 has 9 more horses and the same amount of twist.
The engine is paired with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Both transmissions feature launch control and a rev-matching function for smooth downshifts. The power is sent to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential that can vary the locking effect from 0 to 100 percent depending on the driving situation.
According to BMW, the 2023 BMW M2 can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds with the automatic transmission or 4.1 seconds with the manual transmission. The top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but it can be increased to 174 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package. The fuel economy ratings are estimated at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined for the automatic transmission and 18 mpg, 25 mpg, and 21 mpg, respectively, for the manual transmission.
A Sharp and Sophisticated Design
The 2023 BMW M2 ZA version has a distinctive and aggressive appearance that sets it apart from the regular 2 Series. The front end features a large kidney grille with black vertical slats flanked by sleek LED headlights with hexagonal daytime running lights. The bumper has large air intakes with horizontal bars and an integrated front splitter. The hood has a power dome that hints at the potent engine underneath.
The side profile reveals the muscular fenders that accommodate the wider track and the larger wheels. The M2 rides on 19-inch forged alloy wheels with a Y-spoke design and a Jet Black finish. The tires are high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, measuring 245/35 R19 at the front and 265/35 R19 at the rear. The side mirrors have a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) casing and an aerodynamic shape. The side skirts have a black finish and an M logo.
The rear end showcases the sporty character of the 2023 BMW M2 with a trunk lid spoiler, LED taillights, a rear diffuser, and four exhaust tips with an electric flap control system that adjusts the sound of the exhaust depending on the driving mode. The rear bumper also has air outlets that help reduce lift at high speeds. The M2 is available in six exterior colors: Alpine White, Black Sapphire Metallic, Brooklyn Grey Metallic, Hockenheim Silver Metallic, Portimao Blue Metallic, and Zandvoort Blue Metallic.
A Driver-Focused Cockpit
The interior of the 2023 BMW M2 ZA version is designed to provide a driver-focused and comfortable environment for both spirited driving and daily commuting. The dashboard has a horizontal layout with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The instrument cluster can display various information such as speed, rpm, gear indicator, navigation, driver assistance systems, and lap times. The infotainment system runs on BMW’s Operating System 7 software and supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and over-the-air updates.
The center console has a leather-wrapped gear lever with an illuminated M logo, an iDrive controller, and buttons for selecting the driving modes and activating various functions such as stability control, exhaust sound, start/stop system, parking sensors, and engine start/stop. The steering wheel is also leather-wrapped and has an M badge, paddle shifters (for automatic models), multifunction buttons, and two red buttons labeled M1 and M2 that can store personalized settings for engine response, transmission behavior, steering feel, suspension stiffness, differential lockup, stability control intervention, and head-up display content.
The seats are sporty and supportive, upholstered in black Dakota leather with blue contrast stitching and perforations. The front seats are electrically adjustable and have integrated headrests with an illuminated M2 logo. The rear seats can accommodate two passengers and have a fold-down center armrest with cupholders. The trunk has a capacity of 13.8 cubic feet, which can be expanded by folding the rear seatbacks.
The 2023 BMW M2 comes with a generous list of standard features, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, ambient lighting, a Harman Kardon surround sound system, a wireless charging pad, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a head-up display, a sunroof, and a carbon-fiber roof (for manual models). The M2 also offers a range of driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and automatic emergency braking.
A Dynamic and Delightful Drive
The 2023 BMW M2 is fast, powerful, and fun and engaging to drive. The chassis is stiffened and lowered by 0.4 inches compared to the regular 2 Series and features adaptive dampers that can adjust the suspension firmness according to the road conditions and the selected driving mode. The steering is precise and responsive, with variable assistance and ratio depending on the speed and steering angle. The brakes are strong and fade-resistant, with six-piston fixed calipers at the front and four-piston fixed calipers at the rear, painted in blue with an M logo.
The new BMW M2 offers four driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Track. Each mode alters the engine's characteristics, transmission, steering, suspension, differential, stability control, and exhaust sound to suit different driving scenarios. Comfort mode is ideal for everyday driving, providing a smooth and quiet ride with moderate engine response and gear shifts. Sport mode enhances the performance and agility of the M2, with sharper throttle response, faster gear changes, firmer suspension damping, heavier steering feel, more locking effect from the differential, less intervention from the stability control, and louder exhaust sound. Sport Plus mode takes it up a notch by further increasing the engine response, gear shifts, suspension stiffness, steering weight, differential lockup, stability control threshold, and exhaust volume. Track mode is designed for driving on closed circuits, where it turns off the stability control completely and activates the M Traction Control system that allows the driver to adjust the level of wheel slip from 0 to 10.
The 2023 BMW M2 is a car that delivers on its promise of being the ultimate driving machine. It combines a potent engine, a refined transmission, a balanced chassis, a sharp design, and a driver-focused cockpit to create a thrilling and satisfying driving experience. The new M2 is faster and more capable than its predecessors and more comfortable and versatile for everyday use. The new BMW M2 is expected to go on sale in early 2024 with a starting price of around $60,000.