It’s been about three years since BMW discontinued the 1 Series M Coupe, the performance car that many described as the most exciting product the brand launched since the original E30 M3, and Munich has finally rolled out a successor to the compact coupe. It’s called the M2 and it generated a lot of hype among BMW purists.

There are plenty of reasons to get excited over the M2. It’s not only lighter and more affordable than the M4, it’s also more compact, which should make it that much more fun to drive at the track. In essence, it’s everything the 1M Coupe was and then some. In short, it’s a modern-day incarnation of the original E30 M3 – the vehicle regarded as the best road-going M car BMW ever produced.

But how does the M2 measure up against its three-year-old predecessor? Does it have what it takes to make us forget about the 1M Coupe? At first glance, the M2 is both quicker and more powerful, but there’s more to a sports car than just horsepower figures and lap times. The 1M Coupe is already an icon to BMW enthusiasts and because Munich built very few of them. Well-maintained examples are as expensive as a 2016 model year performance Bimmer.

The M2 has a big pair of shoes to fill, not to mention the fact that BMW went as far as to promote it as a spiritual successor to the E30 M3 and the 2002 Turbo. Now that’s a bold statement. With the M4 having received a lot of heat for being too big and heavy, the M2 needs to step up and take over from where the 1M Coupe left as the lightest and most nimble modern-day M car. That’s lot of pressure for both BMW and the M2.

Sure, a real-world test will settle this debate, but that’s unlikely to occur until 2016, when the M2 is scheduled to hit showrooms. However, with the new coupe out in the open now, it’s time to have a closer look at both the M2 and 1M to find out which one looks better on paper.

Continue reading for the full story.

Exterior

BMW M2 Vs. 1M Coupe
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When BMW decided to rename the 3 Series/M3 Coupe as the 4 Series/M4 in 2013, it also ruled that the 1 Series Coupe should continue as the 2 Series. So while the M2 and 1M Coupe have different names, they’re about the same size and, to some extent, still share a few components. However, like many design evolutions, the M2 is a tad chunkier than the 1M Coupe. Specifically, it’s 4.2 inches longer and two inches wider, while its wheelbase is an inch longer. At the same time, the M2 is about as wide as the M4, which gives it a more aggressive stance. On the flip side, the 1M Coupe bears a closer resemblance to the original E30 M3 due to its more compact dimensions, which BMW failed to achieve with the M2 in its pursuit of aggressiveness over form.

It’s the 1M Coupe that loses points here, simply because early 2010s Bimmers weren’t exactly pretty.

Sure, having an aggressive design counts, but it’s the more compact, E30-like dimensions that made the 1M Coupe a big hit with BMW aficionados.

Moving over to styling, the M2 is definitely the better looking of the two. But not for the obvious reasons. While newer cars usually look better than their predecessors, the M2 wins not because it just rolled off the assembly line, but because the 1M isn’t as striking. It’s the 1M Coupe that loses points here, simply because early 2010s Bimmers weren’t exactly pretty. As much as I like the 1M’s simple rear end, I’m not a fan of its headlamps and the way the engine hood extends into the twin-kidney grille.

All told, it’s a tie, as the perfect vehicle here would have to combine the M2’s styling with the 1M’s narrower and shorter body.

Exterior Dimensions Comparison

BMW M2 BMW 1M
Vehicle Length 176.2 Inches 172 Inches
Vehicle Width 73 Inches 71 Inches
Vehicle Height 55.5 Inches 56 Inches
Wheelbase 106 Inches 105 Inches

Interior

BMW M2 Vs. 1M Coupe
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The differences between the two are significantly bigger on the inside and three years seem like a lot once you compare these cockpits. That’s especially true when you notice the amount of carbon-fiber found in the M2. Naturally, the 1M Coupe looks dated compared to the M2, but that’s not to say its interior is offensive. It’s pretty spartan and some plastics look cheap, but that didn’t stop owners from having fun behind the steering wheel. I actually like it, especially its clean dashboard and the Alcantara door panels.

The 1M Coupe came with BMW’s latest in 2012, the M2 has an array of cool features that weren’t available back then.

Moving over to the M2, it takes just a quick glance to notice what makes it so attractive. Sure, the massive amounts of carbon-fiber and aluminum help, but the M2 is also about a fresh design, the multi-layered dashboard, and lots of gadgets. It looks sharp and sporty, whereas the 1M’s is... well... too mundane.

Then there’s the tech. While the 1M Coupe came with BMW’s latest in 2012, the M2 has an array of cool features that weren’t available back then. The infotainment system not only works better, but it has a lot more functions too. I has apps like the GoPro and the M Laptimer, enabling the driver to record their experience at the track without having to purchase and connect all sorts of gadgets. Everything you need is in there and all you have to do is activate them using the iDrive touch controller.

I’m sure you can have the same amount of fun in both vehicles, but the M2 is the better choice if you’re a tech geek or you want to get serious about analyzing and improving your lap times.

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 BMW M2
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2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe High Resolution Drivetrain
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Though both coupes are powered by turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six engines, these units have nothing in common. The M2 features a revised version of the M235i’s six-cylinder powerplant with Twin-Scroll turbo technology, high-precision direct injection, Valvetronic, and pistons and crank bearings borrowed from the M4’s newer S55 unit.

Things were quite different in the 1M Coupe. Unlike the M2, the 1M didn’t get the M3’s powerplant. You see, the 1M wasn’t exactly a full-fledged M car, but more of a parts-bin vehicle. While the rear subframe, suspension components, aluminum dampers, limited-slip differential, and the brakes came directly from the M3, the engine was borrowed from the Z4. So instead of a naturally aspirated V-8, the 1M got the same N54B30TO BMW offered in the range-topping Z4 sDrive35is. By not dropping a high-revving, naturally aspirated engine in the 1M, BMW gave M purists plenty of reason to dislike the coupe. Some did at first, but quickly learned to love it for its back-road prowess.

As far as numbers go, it’s no surprise that the M2 is the quicker and most powerful of the two. Its newly developed turbo-six cranks out 365 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque from 1,400 revs. The 1M Coupe, on the other hand, came with 335 horses delivered at 5,900 rpm and 332 pound-feet from 1,500. Simple mathematics make the M2 brawnier by 30 horsepower and 11 pound-feet. That’s nice, but not exactly impressive.

I do have to give BMW credit for shaving 14 seconds off the 1M Coupe’s Nurburgring lap with the M2.

The M2’s 0-to-60 mph sprint isn’t impressive either compared to the 1M. Sure, a DCT-equipped M2 will take you to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, which is nothing to sneeze at, but the 1M Coupe didn’t have an automatic and a comparison is out of the question here. When equipped with a manual, the M2 needs 4.4 seconds for the same benchmark, which makes it 0.3 second quicker than the 1M’s official 0-to-60 sprint of 4.7 ticks. I say "official," because many magazines, including Car and Driver, experienced 4.5-second sprints, only a tenth-second slower than the M2. But let’s say the M2 is indeed three tenths quicker than the 1M. That’s far from stunning coming for a vehicle that benefits from four extra years of fast-paced development and a more advanced transmission.

I do have to give BMW credit for shaving 14 seconds off the 1M Coupe’s Nürburgring lap with the M2, though.

But despite not being a lot faster than the 1M, the M2 also wins the horsepower and performance battle because it’s the figures that matter at the end of the day. Enthusiasts want faster and more potent cars and the M2 is here to deliver, even though it needs an automatic gearbox to make a significant statement.

Drivetrain Specifications Comparison

BMW M2 BMW 1M
Engine type inline-6 inline-6
Displacement 3.0 liters 3.0 liters
Engine power 365 HP @ 6,500 RPM 335 HP @ 5,900 RPM
Engine Torque 343 LB-FT @ 1,400-5,560 RPM 332 LB-FT @ 1,500-4,500 RPM
Top speed 155 MPH 155 MPH
0-60 mph 4.4 seconds manual/4.2 seconds DCT 4.7 seconds
Nurburgring time 7:58 8:12

Power-To-Weight Ratio

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
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2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Now let’s have a look at the power-to-weight ratios, as these figures will explain why the M2 isn’t much quicker than the 1M Coupe.

Though it’s lighter than the M235i it is based on, the M2 is actually significantly heavier than the 1M. The manual version tips the scales at 3,450 pounds, which makes it 154 pounds fatter than its predecessor. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for newer Bimmers to be heavier, as all that extra weight comes from the the assistance system and tech gadgets the Germans keep adding to their cars in order to keep the bulk of customers happy (and M purists annoyed).

Just for reference, the lightest E30 M3 tipped the scales at only 2,568 pounds, while the heaviest weighed no more than 3,000 pounds. The M4 weighs in at more than 3,600 pounds. See what I mean?

The M2’s power-to-weight ratio sits at 233.3 horsepower per tonne, while the 1M’s is 224 horses per tonne.

So while the M2 benefits from an extra 30 horses and 11 pound-feet, its edge over the 1M Coupe is actually less significant due to the added weight it has to push around. Specifically, the M2’s power-to-weight ratio sits at 233.3 horsepower per tonne for the manual version and 229.7 horsepower per tonne for the automatic model, while the 1M’s is 224 horses per tonne.

To put it in a nutshell, the added weight reduces the M2’s power advantage over the 1M Coupe from 30 to about 15 horsepower.

Of course, this doesn’t change much overall, as the M2 still has the better power-to-weight ratio, but I just wanted to point out that the four-year-old 1M Coupe is not far behind.

Prices

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
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2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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In most cases, used previous-gen models are significantly cheaper than brand-new versions, mostly because a car’s value plummets the moment if leaves the dealership and decreases even more with ownership. Things are a bit different here, as the 1M Coupe is no regular production car.

While the M2 is rumored to go on sale from $51,000 (BMW has yet to release official pricing), a well-maintained, low-mileage 1M will fetch more than that. That’s because the 1M was produced for only a couple of years and only 6,309 units were built. Originally BMW wanted to produce a scantily 2,700 examples, but demand was so high that the Germans decided to lift the cap. Prices for second-hand 1Ms are especially high in the U.S., where BMW sold only 740 coupes.

It’s safe to assume that a mint condition 1M Coupe is at least as expensive as an M2.

A quick eBay search took me to a Valencia Orange-painted model (only 240 were sold in the U.S.) with only 13,000 miles on the odometer that costs no less than $64,500. Sure, it doesn’t mean that the seller will get that kind of dough for it, but it’s not the only 1M listed at more than $50K. A white model with only 8,764 miles costs $59,995, while another one with 42,319 miles is listed at $52,850. I also found a fourth model priced at $48,900. This one has 32,250 miles on the odo and it’s also painted Valencia Orange, a popular color among U.S. 1M drivers. It’s probably a good time to mention that the 1M Coupe was priced from around $46,000 when it debuted in the States.

All told, it’s safe to assume that a mint condition 1M Coupe is at least as expensive as an M2. And this raises an important question: should you buy a brand-new M2 or go for a used 1M Coupe? While the latter will bring you a more old-school proposition to the current M2 and a rare vehicle at the same time, it might not be such a good idea to pay up to $60K for a three- or four-year-old car just to park a mild collectible in your garage. Unless you’re nuts about the 1M Coupe or you need one to complete your M car collection, that is.

Opting for the M2 will not only bring you all the advantages that come with a brand-new car, including a warranty and not having to worry about what kind of treatment it received under previous ownership, but also a lot of new technology, carbon-fiber trim, improved fuel economy, and likely a better daily driver.

Prices for the used 1M Coupes are also likely to drop once the M2 hits the streets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean well-maintained models will fetch less than $40K. The big mystery here is whether the M2’s value will appreciate over time, but it really depends on how many units will BMW roll off the assembly line.

Conclusion

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Performance-wise, the M2 isn’t significantly more potent than the 1M Coupe, but it makes up for that by ways of a more aggressive design, latest-generation in-car technology, enhanced dynamics, carbon-fiber trim, and broader availability. The M2 is obviously the better choice here for most drivers looking for a track-ready compact, but I’m sure most purists would consider the 1M simply because it’s that kind of special M car BMW doesn’t build too often. It might not seem like it with so many M cars around these days, but the 1M is indeed a unique vehicle that will go into the history books as the true spiritual successor of the E30 M3. The M2, on the other hand, still has to prove itself as a worthy successor of the 1M Coupe and it will take more than a sub-eight-minute Nürburgring lap to do it.

What do you think?
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