Why the G87 M2 is the Most M Important Car BMW is Making Today

Photography: Dan Levins

  • The new BMW G87 M2 produces 453hp and 406lb-ft courtesy of the S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six from the M3/M4.
  • This is the second-generation M2 and while its exterior has become more boy racer than the first, the interior has gone well upscale from the inaugural effort.
  • The G87 is purportedly the last purely internal combustion engine in an M car and perhaps the last to offer a manual transmission option, too.
  • Journalist reviews have been largely mixed since the car’s launch in April of 2023, but we’re here to set the record straight on BMW’s baby M.

If someone quickly gave you two quick stats: 3,800lbs, twin-turbo, which car would immediately come to mind? Chances are, it’d surprise you to think that these characteristics would be attributes of the new G87 M2. It’s not what you’d call a traditionally sporty ethos then but to be fair, it’s not the only vehicle that has adopted a similar formula due to ever-tightening emission and safety standards. 

Frankly, there’s just more to pack inside a car nowadays. It’s mandatory for a sportscar in 2023 to have equal measures of grunt and infotainment, an odd mix between a formidable track weapon and an economical utility car. That’s partly the reason why new cars almost instantly need aftermarket mods to improve the recipe. Indeed, what we’re asking a modern sportscar to be is a mixtape, not a single. And admittedly, asking a car to be a one-person band (and even in some cases do the driving too), is a tall order. So, while journalists have ripped the car apart based on singularities — weight, steering, looks, price — I maintain that M2 cannot be measured by one thing or another but instead on the totality of its intent.

TRACK ONE, SIDE ONE

I confess that the M2’s mixtape didn’t start with a smash hit. In stock form, virtually anyone, save for the most hardcore BMW fan, would swipe left without a moment’s hesitation. Indeed, its appearance has attracted more attention than anything else — mostly for worse — but I’d be willing to bet that if it looked faintly reminiscent of its predecessor, the same journalists would be waving their fingers at it for being too conservative.

THE SINGLE

Because of that risk, nobody is making comparisons to anything within BMW’s archive like they did with the previous generation. The G87 M2 stands alone, like an oddly proportioned adolescent whose parents are chaperoning the school dance. Yet, despite that isolation, you get a sense that if you could negate the acne and poor fashion choices (pulsing tri-color door cards, really?), there’s an unconventional beauty underneath it all.

THE REMIX

The car that you see in front of you is not a stock example. It’s been modified by Precision Sport Industries (PSI) in a way that expertly reshapes the M2’s caricature features into a more digestible form. Even though its exterior enhancements are subtle — it wears an Akrapovič carbon fiber rear diffuser and CSL-style boot lid — it’s enough makeup to elicit a second look from the peanut gallery where I happen to be sitting.

A level closer to the main stage and you’ll pick out the octagonal-tipped Akrapovič titanium exhaust — the first of its kind — and a set of Vorsteiner wheels. The combination looks vastly sportier thanks to the AST 5100 Series coilovers that squat the car toward the pavement. You’re able to appreciate the M2’s boxed fender treatment once it’s sitting on its haunches; the only other time you’ll get a sense of the G87’s hourglass figure is from directly overhead, which is kind of a shame.

PSI’s work on the M2 is an exercise in restraint. At this stage, it may not be the wildest example, but I’d wager that in a decade’s time, this treatment will earn more approving nods than more extreme show cars that have been gutted and built for internet likes.

THE HIDDEN TRACK

Up until now, we haven’t addressed the title of the article whatsoever. The high praise of the F87’s lineup has shone a spotlight on the G87 M2 and largely, BMW has responded in a way that most didn’t expect. Honestly, Porsche is the only brand that can get away with styling continuity because they’ve done it for 75 years now. They are the iPhone of the automotive world, a rounded corner here and a better camera there and people buy them up like wildfire. The rest of the industry must take risks. And this styling exercise is exactly that for BMW — the F87 successor is indeed a bold car.

I think the isolation from BMW’s lineage that I mentioned earlier is a good thing for the newest M; it can earn its merit with no pretenses. Already, the base car is being benchmarked against cars that cost 40% more (cue the 718 Cayman GT4). The previous generation didn’t truly earn that right until the M2CS came out, so that’s incredibly high praise.

Are there gimmicks? Of course. But like I said before, BMW took ample risks with this car. However polarizing it may be inside and out, the G87 M2 is the most important M car because it aims to unapologetically supplant the brand’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” credo into uncharted territory. It’s not trying to be a homage and it’s not just trying to give enthusiasts what they want. The consumers and tuners — like PSI — who can see into that reality can appreciate the car for what it has become and use the burgeoning aftermarket to bring out the M2’s best. And the ones who can’t bark about the horizontal slat grilles on the forums.

Ultimately, we are on the verge of a new dawn in the automotive industry. There likely will never be a G87 M2 in my garage, but I can respect that BMW is able to use an M car platform to transition enthusiasts into that new world. It may seem jarring to some now, but the car is forcing consumers and the aftermarket component manufacturers who support the platform to think differently and innovate new solutions.


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