When BMW decided to do a name revamp back in 2013, the 3 Series became the 4 Series, and the 1 Series Coupe became the 2 Series. This, of course, meant the 1M Coupe would be replaced the M2. All good things eventually come to an end, and as sad as we were to see the iconic 1M fall victim to a death warrant, it didn’t die in vain. The M2 so far has proved to be everything you would expect from a predecessor, and then some.

A couple months ago, we did a comparison between the new M2 and the late 1M. That comparison made us realize that we have sadly neglected another M model that is noteworthy – the BMW M4. That said, we’ve decided to compare the M2 and M4 to see how they stack against each other.

When the M4 came to be, it took on a new inline, six-cylinder engine as opposed to the V-8 that the previous M3 Coupe used. The new powerplant was more efficient and more powerful, which was a huge deal for the M4. Naturally, the M4 is based on the larger 4 Series, so it is larger than the M2 and carries more power on tap. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the M4 is better than the M2; it just means that they both bring their own uniqueness to the table.

The biggest downfall I found with the M4 is that it was heavy and, despite having more than 400 horses under the hood, it doesn’t come off as being as fun to drive on the track as it could have been. The M2, on the other hand, is more compact and lightweight, which should make it a joy to drive on the track. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at the two and see how they stack up against one another.

Keep reading for the full story.

Exterior

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 650569
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 535670
2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 650570
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 535670

BMW M2 VS. BMW M4

Size-wise, the differences between the M2 and the M4 are minimal. Overall, the M4 is only 7.69 inches longer than the M2. The M4 is wider by less than an inch, and taller by just over a half inch. The M4 takes the M2 on wheelbase by 4.70 inches. These aren’t the figures that really matter, though. What really matters is the exterior design of the two sports cars.

The corner air vents on the M2 also look to provide more aerodynamic downforce, when compared to those of the M4

I was happy to see that the M2 has a different headlight design compared to the M4. The M4’s headlights essentially faded into the twin-kidney grille, which at a glance made each grille and headlamp look like one piece. On the M2, the headlights actually look like eyes, with both ends coming to a sharp point – allowing for a clear separation between them and the grille. The corner air vents on the M2 also look to provide more aerodynamic downforce, when compared to those of the M4. The upper “eyelids” of the vents extend outward more and vents look more apt to channel air toward the wheels.

To the rear, the M4 has a more stylish look to it. The rear deck lid is more curved than that of the M2, and the rear fascia certainly provides a more stylish appearance. The reflectors on the M4 are mounted horizontally and further inward on the M4, while they are mounted toward vertically and closer to the corners on the M2. I don’t particularly like how the one-piece taillights on the M2 bubble out of the body more as opposed to those on the M4. The rear diffuser on the M2 has more character to it, but I prefer the body-colored diffuser on the M4.

Overall, both the M2 and M4 have bodies that are styled aggressively – something we’ve come to expect from BMW’s M cars. It should be noted that the M2 looks to have more spacing between the wheels and the body – a design queue that I’m not entirely fond of. It would look better to me, and may perform better on the track if the body of the M2 was dropped by about an inch, lowering the center of gravity and getting rid of that space between the wheels and wheel wells.

Exterior Dimensions Comparison

BMW M2 BMW M4 Coupe
Vehicle Length 176.2 Inches 183.89 Inches
Vehicle Width 73 Inches 73.89 Inches
Vehicle Height 55.5 Inches 56.06 Inches
Wheelbase 106 Inches 110.70 Inches

Interior

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Interior
- image 650526
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Interior
- image 535673

BMW M2 VS. BMW M4

At a quick glance, you might not notice all that much difference between the interior of the M4 and the new M2. They both receive that fine leather treatment, and both have carbon-fiber inserts on the door panels and dashboard. The air conditioning vents are even located in the same place, and carry the same rectangular shape – with the exception of the defrost vents atop the dash, which are more elongated on the M2. On the M4, the carbon-fiber insert of the dash wraps around from the instrument cluster and infotainment screen, and comes to a point just before the right-most A/C vent. On the M2, there is a carbon fiber-insert around the left A/C vent, and a larger carbon-fiber panel is inserted on the dash, just above the glove box.

The M4 has four gauges, while the M2 only has two – one for the speedo and one for the tach.

The disc changer, audio controls, A/C controls and infotainment screen are virtually identical, as is the center console. Even the steering wheel is nearly identical. As far as the instrument cluster goes, the M2 is noticeably different. The M4 has four gauges, while the M2 only has two – one for the speedo and one for the tach. The temperature and fuel gauges on the M2 are integrated into these two gauges. It’s safe to say that when designing the interior of the M2, Bimmer looked to the M4 for inspiration. It might be a bit smaller on the inside, but it looks to be just as comfortable and luxurious.

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 650571
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 535669

There is a real difference between the powertrains of the M2 and M4. The M4 cranks out 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque from its twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six. So, why doesn’t the M2 make the same power from its 3.0-liter? Well, that answer is in the forced induction. The M2 has a single turbo, which is the major restriction between it and the M4. It clocks in at 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. The difference of 60 ponies may seem like a lot, but the M2 is also lighter, which means it is nearly as capable as the M4 when it comes to track day.

When stacked against one another on the Nurburgring, the M4 only beats out the M2 by 0.6 seconds.

As the two stand from the factory line, top speed for both is limited at 155 mph. Sprinting from 0 to 60 mph takes 4.4 seconds for the M2 (4.2 with the dual-clutch transmission) and 4.1 seconds for the M4 (this drops to 3.9 seconds with the automated, manual DCT). When stacked against one another on the Nurburgring, the M4 only beats out the M2 by 0.6 seconds. That is thanks to the difference in weight and the fact that the M2 is a bit more compact than its bigger brother.

Even though the powertrain of the M2 puts out less than the M4, 365 ponies and 343 pound-feet is still a lot of oomph to send to the rear wheels of a smaller car. Because of this, and just like the M4, the M2 was fitted with an Active M differential. With an electronically controlled differential, traction is optimized, and directional stability comes much easier. When equipped with the seven-speed manual DCT, the cars have automatic throttle control, which helps to keep the engine speed where it should be for optimal shifting.

Drivetrain Specifications Comparison

BMW M2 BMW M4 Coupe
Engine type inline-6 inline-6
Displacement 3.0 liters 3.0 liters
Engine power 365 HP @ 6,500 RPM 425 HP @ 5,500–7,300 RPM
Engine Torque 343 LB-FT @ 1,400-5,560 RPM 406 LB-FT @ 1,850–5,500 RPM
Top speed 155 MPH 155 MPH
0-60 mph 4.4 seconds manual/4.2 seconds DCT 4.1 Sec (W/ Manual) / 3.9 Sec. (W/ M-DCT)
Nurburgring time 7:58 7:52
Curb Weight - Automatic transmission 3,505 LBS 3,585 LBS
Curb Weight - Manual transmission 3,450 LBS 3,530 LBS

Power-To-Weight Ratio

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 650546
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 535652

With sixty less horsepower, it might make you wonder how the M2 can run a lap on the Nurburgring within 0.6 seconds, or how it can hit a 60 mph sprint in two tenths of a second slower. Well, it really comes down to the power-to-weight ratio. The M2 comes in 3,505 pounds when equipped with an automatic transmission, or 3,450 pounds when equipped with the manual. The M4, on the other hand, comes in a 3,585 pounds when equipped with an automatic transmission or 3,530 pounds when equipped with a manual transmission. That is an 80-pound and 70-pound difference in the M2’s favor, respectively. It might not seem like much, but those few pounds can make all of the difference.

When equipped with the automatic, the M2 has 208.27 horsepower per ton, while the M4 has 237.10 horsepower per ton.

With that said, let’s look at horsepower per ton. When equipped with the automatic, the M2 has 208.27 horsepower per ton, while the M4 has 237.10 horsepower per ton. Stepping down to the manual brings those numbers to 211.59 per ton and 240.79 per ton, respectively. When you look at it that way, the M4 only has an advantage of 28.83 horsepower with an automatic, or 29.2 horsepower with a manual.

Of course, the M4 still has the advantage on power, but the small difference in horsepower per ton is why the M2 can compete so closely with its bigger brother. Just think about how evenly matched the M2 and M4 would be, with some minor upgrades and weight reduction to the M2. Even something as simple as an ECU remap and an exhaust system could nearly equal out that power-to-weight ratio.

It should be noted that the M2 is actually significantly lighter in Europe. On that side of the world, the M2 tips the scale at 3,295 pounds. That means when equipped with an automatic transmission, the M2 is 210 pounds lighter than its American counterpart. With the manual transmission, it comes in at 155 pounds lighter. The M4 also takes on a little weight coming to the U.S., but according to figures from BMW’s global website, the M4 is only 28 to 30 pounds heavier. Why the difference in weight between markets? Well, our safety standards are quite strict, so more often than not, cars in the American market have additional safety equipment. Cars built for the American market sometimes come with additional technology too, which also helps to weigh down our rides. In the case of the M2, coming to America adds on the weight of an additional passenger.

Prices

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 650536
2015 BMW M4 Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 535663

BMW M2 VS. BMW M4

We have no official figure on starting price for the M2, but some sources have indicated that $51,000 is where BMW is aiming. That word has supposedly come from the head of BMW’s M Division here in North America, but we’ll hear more official numbers once the car hits showrooms in the coming months. It should be noted that at $51,000, the M2 will be highly desirable for those looking into the 2 Series – the M235i coupe has an asking price of $44,150, and the M235i xDrive comes in at $46,150. At $51,000, the M2 will be well within the price range of those looking to pick up a high-end 2 Series.

At the time of this publication, the M4 fetches $65,400 before options, which is a pretty hefty jump over the expected $51,000 price point of the M2. When you consider how close the M4 is to the M2 performance-wise, the M2 certainly comes off as being more ideal. Think about it this way. Buy an M2, do some weight reduction to drop a few hundred pounds, throw in a bigger turbo and some ECU tuning, and I bet the M2 will walk all over the M4 in 0 to 60 times, 0 to 100 times, and even on a trip around the Nurburgring. Chances are, those upgrades can probably be had at a much cheaper price than the expected $14,000 difference between the M2 and the M4.

Conclusion

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 650555
I think BMW is going to find that consumers will look more toward the M2 than the M4.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to describe the pair of M cars. You could take a quick glance and see twins, while a deeper look exposes the true differences between the two. If the two were humans, you might say that little brother is more buff, considering its slightly smaller size and similar muscle. Like a little brother, the M2 will likely be nimbler on the track than the M4, and I for one think that – with the right driver – the M2 will probably outperform the M4 on some of the more technical tracks out there.

I think there is a lot more to come when the M2 finally makes its spot in the market, and I think BMW is going to find that consumers will look more toward the M2 than the M4. It’s not just about the much lower price point, though. It’s about the heart and soul that the smaller M2 has when compared to the M4. The weight and agility of the M2 will make it a blast to drive, and while I do like the M4, I think I like the M2 a little better. I can’t wait to see what tuning programs are in the works for the M2 as well. The M2 could very well be a weapon of mass destruction on the tracks and the street when properly tuned and upgraded.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: