The formula for making a muscle car is simple and brilliant. You take a relatively affordable vehicle — almost any hunk of metal with four wheels will do — and shoehorn in the biggest, baddest, gnarliest motor you can find. Then, you hang on for dear life.
Historically, this has been a uniquely American phenomenon. And, frankly, we thought the Americans were pretty good at it. But then we drove this tiny BMW. Holy sweet mother of speed!
This miniature muscle car hails from Bavaria, courtesy of the elite engineers working in BMW’s M Division, who followed the classic formula. The car started life as BMW’s 2 Series, the company’s most affordable coupe. Then M Division put a more powerful motor into it, turning it into the M2, a car we liked a lot. But these power-crazed Bavarians didn’t stop there — they wanted more. The brief for the M2 Competition was to make it “more fun.” To accomplish that, they took the exotic twin-turbo straight-six motor out of the bigger, racier M3 and stuffed it into the engine bay. They had to change most of the car — from the windshield forwards — to make it work, but behold: the M2 Competition.
This car wants to burn rubber. The tires have no chance against 405 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The latter kicks in seemingly all at once, at 2,350 rpm. You’ve got to be mindful of the torque because — if the electronic safety systems are switched off — it could kick the car sideways without warning. It’s a motor that deserves respect.
The M2 Competition is more than just a blunt instrument, though. At the Ascari racetrack and resort in southern Spain, it handled lap after lap of abuse. The chassis was perfectly balanced, able to walk that fine line between gripping and slipping with ease. The controls are so transparent, you can steer the car with the throttle after initial turn-in, controlling its attitude simply by flexing your right foot.
There are no racing stripes or flame graphics. It won’t draw undue attention. You could even call it practical, with rear seats and a ride that’s comfortable enough for everyday use.
We drive a lot of fast cars on a lot of racetracks, but the M2 Competition is, dollar for dollar, the most fun in recent memory. It’s a muscle car with finesse. The Americans could learn a thing or two.