Price (as tested) 💲: $75,346
Powertrain ⚙️: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6
Output 💪: 453 hp/406 lb-ft of torque
Transmission 🕹: 6-speed manual
0-60 MPH 🚦: 4.1 seconds
Top Speed 💥: 177 mph
MPG (as tested) ⛽️: 16 city/24 hwy/19 combined
Curb weight ⚖️: 3,814 lbs

When photos of the new BMW M2 first cropped up online, I was convinced I was looking at partial downloads.

Surely this pixelated form was still rendering…

Yet there were the files – completed and concerning.

Like with the M3/M4, BMW’s designers went wild – just in a new direction. They’d backed off the tall kidney grille (whew), instead embracing the “body kit” aesthetic that hit its peak in the early 2000s (think Fast and Furious Civics).

I held out hope for an in-person diagnosis to be less dire. It was, but only just. Some angles were mega (that profile is beefcake brilliance), and the interior is everything cool out of the M4, shrink wrapped. The rough angles bothered me less, but the rounded upper portion of the rear sat awkwardly on the edgy bumper.

While stewing on the style, I let the driving dynamics talk.

My manual-equipped M2 didn’t find its groove immediately. With a phantom clutch release point and elastic shift throws, it delivered a tepid first impression. Tall gearing robbed some urgency from the S58T’s 453 horsepower (48 more than the predecessor), but there’s still plenty of punch to hide the extra 250 pounds…in a straight line

In a corner, the M2 leverages its longer wheelbase for stable, fluid handling – with a small penalty to playfulness. Steering loads up with reasonable transparency, but the car’s added heft is felt in quick changes of direction.

Let’s be clear: the new BMW M2 is a very good car. Some people are going to love the look, and I, at least, don’t loathe it. The interior is a solid upgrade. It drives like an M4 lite, for the better of its daily drivability, and for the worse of its engagement.

The only thing left to download is M’s real replacement for a small, light sports car.