While electric power is taking the world of auto by storm, the charm of a manual car remains high. BMW gives a tribute to the classic power-engine technology through M2.
By: Somnath Chatterjee
Posted on July 11, 2023
The motor car is going through its most radical transition and has finally started to embrace electrification with open arms. However, the performance car industry remains in a quandary on how to approach the thorny issue of replacing engines with batteries. While emissions are forcing car-makers to change performance cars, the lure of a pure combustion engine sports car remains one of the highlights of today’s performance car landscape.
The BMW M division has been one such flag bearer with its line-up of iconic cars like the M3 and M5, but the onslaught of technology has meant that performance cars these days are filled with technologies, and are not as ‘pure’ as they once were. The need to be faster spurs one to add weight and complication.
However, sometimes, it is just right to declutter and make things simpler. For BMW M, it is the M2 which is a refreshing step back and a lesson on why less is indeed more. It is a classic rear wheel drive sports car with a manual gearbox as an option. Not many sports cars offer a manual gearbox as not many buy them and they are not as efficient or as fast as an automatic.
That said, sports cars go beyond the conventional boundaries and bare statistics. It is about emotion and driver involvement. In that sense, the BMW M2 is their last pure combustion engined sports car offered with a manual gearbox while being a fitting end to an era.
The engine lets out a rumble when awakened and you shift the manual gearbox with a silly grin.
It is compact, light, and fitted with sense of purity which is drawn from its powertrain. You get a straight six motor with 420 horses and with no electrification in sight. The engine lets out a rumble when awakened and you shift the manual gearbox with a silly grin. When driven hard the M2 feels alive and its strict rear wheel drive architecture enables you to play with finer nuances while the heavy steering is alert and provides you with the minute details.
The engine is fettled with turbos and that means it has a muscular nature in terms of its spirited performance from the word go, however, you are also coaxed to rev it. The six-speed manual is probably one of the last before it goes all digital and the joy of shuffling through the gears at high speed is something one needs to savour.
It is less about the emotion and more about the numbers. The M2, then, is a last blast...
Yes, the clutch is heavy due to the prodigious power it must cope with and the manual has a weighty shift action – but that is all part of the sports car process of giving you a workout while driving. The M2 is gloriously old school and proud about it but it does get a myriad of driver technologies which only mildly helps the driver but does not influence it. It is wilfully compact as well and teaches much more expensive supercars a thing or two in terms of agility. It is playful but not intrusive and simply immerses you in its driving experience.
It is a very different way of looking at a sports car in today's age, but the M2 does a convincing job at reminding us how things were simple back in the day. However, modern day performance cars need to have electrification and all-wheel drive to carry a higher speed in order to win the power wars. It is less about the emotion and more about the numbers. The M2, then, is a last blast, and with BMW India giving the option of a manual gearbox to M2 buyers is indeed a very good thing as it is a rare chance to drive something very special and raw. Long live the manual sports car!