The BMW M2 debuts: Could it be an Audi killer?

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BMW’s M Division has always been the bane to Audi and its RS models. Audi has made some spectacular cars over the years, the RS4, RS5 and RS6 have always been fantastic automobiles. They had gobs of power, loads of grip and tons of style. But BMW’s M models have always been just one step ahead, in terms of performance. Audi has been catching up lately, as the upcoming B9 Audi S4 and RS4 could become a serious contender to BMW. But BMW’s newly announced M2 could spell bad news for the Four Rings.

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The BMW M2 is based off of the, already class-leading, 2 Series. With a turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-six engine, the BMW M2 produces 370 hp, which is around the same as the 367 hp in the competing Audi RS3. However, the M2 is considerably lighter, weighing in at only 3,196 lbs, whereas the RS3 weighs around 3,400 lbs. Thank the all-wheel drive system of the RS3 for much of that added weight. Both cars put out similar performance, though. The Audi RS3 can get from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds while the BMW M2 can do the same sprint in a claimed 4.3 seconds. Expect the M2 to be closer to the RS3 in the real world, however, as BMW so very often underrates its performance figures.

But the BMW M2 isn’t just about raw performance numbers. The M2 has a heavily revised chassis and suspension setup. Much of the suspension, including control arms, shocks, struts, springs and subframes, are all made from aluminum. The balljoints in the suspension are all play-free as well and BMW has removed many of the rubber bushings that connect many of the components to provide better feedback. The M2 also comes with what BMW calls an Active M rear differential to provide better grip and directional stability.

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In terms of design, the M2 looks very much like a current M car. It’s front air dams, brake cooling ducts, built-in deckled spoiler, wheels and rear diffuser are all pretty standard M fair. The wheel arches are pretty aggressively flared out and give the M2 a very muscular an powerful look to it. In comparison to many of Audi’s S or RS models, it looks downright aggressive. Audi’s performance models are often sleepers, as they typically don’t have the look of high-performance cars.

The interior of the BMW M2 is a bit less dramatic. It looks like the interior of an M235i with some different trim. The steering wheel is even the same as in the M235i. The exterior of the M2 is very good looking, but the interior is a bit austere boring, especially in comparison to Audi’s recent performance models.

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Overall, the BMW M2 looks like it could take down the RS3 in terms of fun and performance. It’s rear-wheel drive layout, available six-speed manual and light weight make the M2 the more appealing package for many enthusiasts. Audi has some amazing performance cars, but the BMW M2 could be more exciting than any of them. The M2 may have just set the bar for the segment.