During April, FMM was the host venue to the South African launch of the new BMW M2 Coupé. This was the first time that the museum, and specifically Die Plaas Pad test track, was opened up to the motoring media and the week-long activities were enjoyed by all who attended, especially the first-time visitors to FMM, all of whom expressed admiration for the whole facility. A fresh group of journalists were invited each day and following a media briefing, had the opportunity to drive the new car as well as various other examples of BMW’s current M model range. And a couple of thrilling laps in an M3 being chauffeured by BMW factory driver (and 2012 DTM champion) Bruno Spengler, who displayed some simply amazing car control…

Chatting to chief development engineer Frank Isenberg at the launch, he said that once the company realised there was an opportunity in the corporate model line-up for a high-performance coupé between the M235i and M4, it was all systems go. The M2 is fitted with a turbocharged 3,0-litre six-cylinder engine developing 272 kW at 6 500 r/min and 465 N.m of torque from 1 400-5 560 r/min (500 N.m with overboost). Claimed performance figures for the seven-speed M-DCT model are 0-100 km/h in 4,3 seconds, a top speed limited to 250 km/h (270 with optional performance package) and a combined cycle fuel economy of 7,9 litres/100 km. The six-speed manual’s acceleration and economy figures are 4,5 and 8,5 respectively.

Isenberg stressed that the major concern with putting such a powerful engine in a relatively small car was cooling, and many hours and test kilometres – in ambient temperatures of 40degC – were carried out before sign-off. Handling was also a major consideration due to the car’s relatively short wheelbase, and a near-perfect 52/48% front/rear weight distribution was achieved. An Active M Differential and M Dynamic Mode are standard features, along with M compound brakes.

Die Plaas Pad is a challenging circuit but the M2 proved an entertaining drive irrespective of which drive mode was selected. The car provided high levels of grip through the faster sweeps, while in the twistier sections it responded predictably to steering and accelerator input, providing a thoroughly entertaining drive. Base price is R791 000 for the manual and R841 000 for the M-DCT. As usual, a plethora of optional extras is available to increase BMW’s famed ‘sheer driving pleasure’. MM

BMW-M2_075 bmw-m2-launch-and-fmm-display-009 bmw-m2-launch-and-fmm-display-022