BMW M2 1st Generation F87 2016-2021 Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used M2 1st Gen

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1st Gen BMW M2: What Owners Say

  • Punchy turbo engines in a compact coupe body provide plenty of performance.
  • Exceptional driving dynamics prove that BMW M can still satisfy driving purists.
  • Comparatively inexpensive, considering the performance and stellar handling on offer.
  • Very sporty suspension demands a compromise on ride comfort.
  • Rear seat is extremely cramped for adults.
  • Misses out on some modern driver aids, although that is understandable in such a focused driver's car.

First Generation BMW M2 Facelift

The F87 BMW M2 first arrived in 2016 and followed in the tracks of the E82 BMW 1M Coupe as the entry point into BMW's M-car line-up. It was a success from the outset, thanks to its combination of a potent engine and very well-tuned RWD handling, wrapped in a compact body at a comparatively affordable purchase price. Most enthusiastic drivers were elated by this development.

Some purists disagreed, however, because the first M2 wasn't endowed with a "real" BMW M engine, and some cosmetic details also didn't fit with the then-current M-car styling philosophy. These are but a few of the motivations behind BMW giving the M2 a comprehensive overhaul for its mid-life update in 2019, from which it emerged as a much-enhanced sports car with a new name: The BMW M2 Competition.

2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Front Changes CarBuzz
2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Front Changes

To uninitiated eyes, there isn't much of a change between the pre- and post-facelift M2's front ends, but the changes are in fact more significant than they might appear. The most obvious changes involve the bumper1 and grille designs, with the new model exchanging the outgoing M2's slim, chromed grille surround, for a wider, gloss-black grille with BMW's trademark 'kidneys' connected by a matching black insert between them2.

Further investigation will also reveal a different bumper, with three air intake slots added to the bumper's lower lip, and a shallower mounting area for the number plate3, due to an enlarged lower air intake. The headlights also get some attention, with angular semi-hexagonal DRLs replacing the older model's more-rounded items4.

2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Rear Changes CarBuzz
2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Rear Changes

It is slightly more difficult to spot the facelifted M2's rear-end changes, but the key differentiator is again the light clusters. Pre-facelift cars employed a rather busy tail lamp design, with the DRLs and indicator lamps in the shape of a hockey stick, and the backup lights in the top half of the cluster. In contrast, the facelift BMW M2 has a simplified tail light design, with a larger DRL element and indicators, and the backup lights are moved to the lamps' lower edges1.

Model identification is also revised, with pre-facelift cars showing off a chromed M2 badge, and later models proclaiming their identity with a black 'M2 Competition' badge instead2. The rear bumper with its integrated diffuser element and bold creases for the reflectors remains unchanged, so it really comes down to the badge and lights to tell pre- and post-facelift models apart.

2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Side Changes CarBuzz
2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Side Changes

This is likely the view where the differences between the original M2 and the updated model are the most obvious. While the side skirt design and sheet metal weren't changed at all, there are four major differences that set them apart.

The first clue as to an M2 Competition's identity can be found in the front fenders, where the older model's chromed air vents make way for a gloss-black trim piece, in keeping with the general theme of Competition-badged M-cars1. BMW M aficionados will also zero in on the exterior rearview mirrors, which receive proper M-style wing mirror caps, rather than the larger and blockier ordinary BMW mirror caps which were used before the facelift2.

The M2's wheels are changed from a five-double-spoke design to Y-spoke alloys with polished faces on the M2 Competition, which add a pleasing measure of solidity to the M2 Competition's profile view3. Lastly, you could also look at the head-4 and taillamp clusters5, but those are not as easy to spot from the side as is the case with other facelift BMWs.

2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Interior Changes CarBuzz
2019-2021 M2 F87 Facelift Interior Changes

Stepping inside the M2 Competition reveals a tastefully-refreshed cabin, which manages to look more upmarket and creates a visual impression of enhanced cabin space. This change is mostly due to a new dash top design, which exchanges the gigantic lump of plastic surrounding the center console in pre-facelift cars for a sleeker design, with a strong horizontal styling emphasis and carbon fiber detailing1. The perceived material quality takes a step up, as shown by the air vents2 and cupholders3, which are now garnished in satin chrome.

There are other notable refinements too, such as a snazzy new Black Panel digital instrument cluster4, an uprated iDrive infotainment system5, and much more attractive-looking sports seats with deeper side bolsters and illuminated M2 badges embedded in their backrests6.

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

The 1st-Generation BMW M2 employed two engines over its production run, with the pre-facelift model using a mildly-modified version of the N55 single-turbo unit, with improved lubrication- and cooling systems and reprogrammed engine management to realize new peak outputs of 363 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque. An overboost function lifted the torque peak to 369 lb-ft for a maximum of five seconds, allowing for easier overtaking performance and more mid-range punch as needed. It may have been smooth and punchy, but M-car enthusiasts were less than thrilled with the N55 engine's presence. They firmly believed that a real M-car must have an M-exclusive engine, so a modified M235i power unit just wouldn't do in their eyes.

There was some internal competition coming up soon as well, because the M235i was due for an update with the B58-series engine (to become the M240i), which came with a higher baseline torque output and top-end power that approached that of the M2's N55 unit. Upcoming European emissions standard changes added even more complexity to this problem, because the N55 engine couldn't be made to conform to the new requirements. In the end, BMW M took a pragmatic approach and simply slotted a detuned version of the M3/M4's twin-turbo S55 engine into the M2 Competition - presumably detuned to avoid dancing on its big brother's toes. For M2 Competition duty, the S55 was rated at 405 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, eventually increased to 444 hp (as used in the M4 Competition) for the M2 CS.

Both M2 and M2 Competition models were available with either a six-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching, or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with launch control, christened M-DCT in BMW-speak. Power was, however, sent to the rear wheels only, with the M2 using a mechanical limited-slip differential and the M2 Competition employing the electronically-controlled differential from the M4.

3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas DOHC N55B30T0 (2016-2018)
363 hp | 343 lb-ft
363 hp
343 lb-ft, 369 lb-ft on overboost
Six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

The N55 engine was developed in response to the litany of reliability problems experienced by its N54 predecessor, and in the process, earned a reputation that was the exact opposite of the N54's - as is evident by the very small number of reported 2016-2018 BMW M2 engine problems. This means that the N55-engined M2 became one of the few M-car engines with few notable flaws, and has developed a devoted following in the aftermarket tuning scene.

3.0L Twin-Turbo Inline-6 Gas DOHC S55B30T0 (2019-2021)
405/444 hp | 406 lb-ft
405/444 hp
406 lb-ft
Six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

Seeing as the S55 engine is derived from the N55, these engines are very similar in terms of their mechanical layout. They're both 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engines with variable inlet- and exhaust valve timing (Double VANOS), variable valve lift (Valvetronic), and direct fuel injection. The differences are in the details, because the S55 features a closed-deck block instead of the N55's open deck block, beefed-up pistons, bearings, con-rods and crankshaft, uses a twin-turbo setup instead of the N55's single turbo, has an extensively-uprated cooling system and bespoke twin intercoolers, an upgraded lubrication system, and dual high-pressure fuel pumps.

As a result, the S55 engine as used in the M2 Competition is quite over-built, with few of the issues which affected older M-car engines, leading to very few reported 2019-2021 BMW M2 Competition engine problems. Don't worry about rod bearing failure or broken throttle actuators, because the S55 is not prone to these traditional trouble spots. In fact, owners will mostly only have to manage the usual issues which affect most modern BMW engines, such as oil leaks and VANOS solenoid failures.

2016-2021 BMW M2 1st Generation Real MPG

The 1st Gen BMW M2 is a favorite among enthusiastic drivers, and it's very likely that fuel economy is not much of a priority for such owners. For this reason, not enough BMW M2 owners submitted their real-life economy figures to the EPA, so we cannot cast any verdict on whether the official figures are achievable in normal driving.

EPA mpg (city/highway/combined)Real-world combined mpg*
M2 Coupe 3.0-liter turbo Inline-6, 6-speed manual RWD18/26/21 (2016-2018)N/A
M2 Coupe 3.0-liter turbo Inline-6, 7-speed M-DCT RWD20/26/22 (2016-2018)N/A
M2 Coupe Competition3.0-liter twin-turbo Inline-6, 6-speed manual RWD18/25/20 (2019-2020)18/24/20 (2021)N/AN/A
M2 Coupe Competition3.0 twin-turbo Inline-6, 7-speed M-DCT RWD17/23/19 (2019-2020)16/23/19 (2021)N/AN/A
M2 CS Coupe 3.0 twin-turbo Inline-6, 6-speed manual RWD17/24/20 (2020)N/A
M2 CS Coupe 3.0 twin-turbo Inline-6, 7-speed M-DCT RWD16/23/19 (2020)N/A

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.


The first-generation BMW M2 had a long list of standard safety features even before its facelift, with highlights including ventilated and perforated disc brakes on all four wheels, ABS with brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and emergency braking assist, and multi-mode traction- and stability control available from the start. This was rounded off by six airbags (dual frontal-, side-, and curtains), adaptive xenon headlamps with automatic on/off control, turn signals integrated into the side mirrors, a self-dimming interior rearview mirror, and child seat anchors for the rear seats.

Some small additions appeared in 2018 when adaptive full-LED headlamps were added, along with a standard-fit rearview camera. The facelift added yet more standard safety goodies, with the M2 Competition gaining lane departure warning and front- and rear parking sensors, retaining this basic safety specification for the rest of its run.

Neither the first-generation BMW M2 nor the 2 Series coupe upon which it is based was tested by the NHTSA, but, seeing as the 2 Series is derived from the larger contemporary BMW 3- and 4 Series (F30/F32) platform, we can use the larger cars' ratings as an accurate safety indication. In 2020, the F32 BMW 4 Series received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, with the driver enjoying four-star protection in the frontal crash, and the front passenger getting full five-star safety in a frontal crash.

Side crash ratings were also exemplary, with five stars across the board for side barrier and pole collisions for all occupants, supported by a five-star score for rollover resistance as well. All this bodes well for the smaller 2 Series and M2 models' safety credentials.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result (2021)

Overall Rating:
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
Side Crash Rating:
Rollover Rating:

1st Generation BMW M2 Trims

With the BMW M2 F87 occupying the top spot in the 2 Series hierarchy, and representing the entry point to the world BMW M-cars, it was equipped in line with its high-end status from launch. Owners didn't even have much to choose from in terms of option packages, unlike other M-cars of its era, but a few stand-alone options were available to allow at least some customization.

Standard equipment in the 2016 BMW M2 F87 included leather trim for seats and steering wheel, heated sports front seats with 10-way power adjustment, manual reach-and-rake adjustment for the multi-function steering wheel, 19-inch alloy wheels (the only wheel size ever offered on the F87 BMW M2), a 360-watt Harman Kardon audio system with 12 speakers, surround sound, USB- and Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, integrated navigation and Apple CarPlay compatibility, cruise control, one-touch controls for the front windows, heated and powered exterior mirrors, hands-free entry and keyless ignition, and dual-zone electronic climate control.

The cruise control was updated to adaptive functionality in 2017, while 2018 added a rearview camera to the specification sheet, along with an optional glass moonroof. The facelift (M2 Competition) gained full-LED adaptive headlights, parking sensors on both ends, and lane departure warning for 2019, but then remained largely unchanged until 2021. And, regardless of the car's specifications or options, all M2s used tire sizes measuring 245/35R18 in front and 265/35R19 at the rear.

The first-generation BMW M2 also spawned some special editions:

  • M2 Performance Edition: Only 150 examples of this special edition were produced for the US market, with either the six-speed manual transmission or the seven-speed M-DCT. Finished exclusively in Alpine white and with the complete Shadowline exterior trim package, the Performance Edition used the same drivetrain as the normal M2, but added adjustable suspension, high-performance tires, and a focus on weight reduction, such as manually-adjustable seats and a lightweight exhaust system.
  • M2 CS: This is the wildest factory M2, based on the M2 Competition, and only available for 2020. The US market received about 564 of the 2,200 first-gen BMW M2 CS F87s which were built, in either manual- or M-DCT guise. The engine was uprated to mirror the outputs of the M4, with 444 hp on tap, the exterior featured redesigned forged alloy rims, and weight was saved by making the transmission tunnel, roof, hood, and exterior trim pieces in carbon fiber.

First Generation M2 Features

Auxiliary Audio InputSSS
Back-Up CameraOSS
Bluetooth ConnectionSSS
Brake AssistSSS
Climate ControlSSS
Cruise ControlSSS
Driver Air BagSSS
Front Head Air BagSSS
Front Side Air BagSSS
Hands-Free LiftgateSSS
Hard Disk Drive Media StorageSSS
Heated Front Seat(s)SSS
Heated Steering WheelOON/A
Keyless EntrySSS
Keyless StartSSS
Knee Air BagSSS
Lane Departure WarningOSS
MP3 PlayerSSS
Multi-Zone A/CSSS
Navigation SystemOSS
Passenger Air BagSSS
Power Driver SeatSSS
Power Mirror(s)SSS
Power Passenger SeatSSS
Premium Sound SystemSSS
Rear Head Air BagSSS
Rear Parking AidOSS
Satellite RadioSSS
Seat MemorySSS
Smart Device IntegrationOSS
Stability ControlSSS
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsSSS
Tire Pressure MonitorSSS
Traction ControlSSS
Universal Garage Door OpenerSSS
WiFi HotspotOON/A

Interior, Trim And Practicality

BMW M2 1st Gen Interior Overview BMW
BMW M2 1st Gen Interior Overview

Seeing that the BMW M2 is a two-door sports coupe, accessibility to - and accommodation in - its rear seating area is rather compromised. You won't be able to fit larger-than-average adults in there, and even average-sized people will get uncomfortable pretty quickly, due to limited legroom and very little headroom. Cargo capacity of 13.8 cubic feet is decent for its size, however, so an M2 of any description will be a fine touring car for two occupants.

Things are a lot more positive for the front seats, with 40.1 inches of headroom, 41.5 inches of legroom, and 54.4 inches of shoulder room. In fact, these cabin figures are very close to those of the larger BMW M4 coupe, and easily eclipses its larger sibling in cargo volume.

Bucket SeatsSSS
Leather SeatsSSS
Leather Steering WheelSSN/A
Premium Synthetic SeatsN/AN/AS
Black w/Blue Stitching, Dakota Leather UpholsterySSN/A
Black/Blue Highlight, Dakota Leather UpholsterySN/AN/A
Black/Blue Stitching, Dakota Leather UpholsteryN/ASN/A
Black/Orange Stitching, Dakota Leather UpholsteryN/ASN/A
Black w/Orange Stitching, Dakota Leather UpholsteryN/ASN/A
Anthracite, Alcantara/Leather UpholsteryN/AN/AS

2016-2021 BMW M2 Maintenance and Cost

As with all high-performance vehicles, the BMW M2 needs a constant supply of high-quality engine oil to ensure a good service life. BMW uses an in-car system named Condition-Based Servicing, which is programmed to advise owners when an oil change is due, but we'd ignore its recommendations completely.

In some cases, CBS may recommend oil change intervals as long as 20,000 miles, but it's better to replace the engine oil and its filter every 5,000 miles or once a year instead. The cabin air filter is supposed to be replaced at 60,000 miles, but this distance must be shortened if the vehicle regularly encounters dusty conditions.

Brake fluid should be good for up to 30,000 miles, as will the spark plugs and fuel filter, to which we'd also add the engine air filter, differential oil, and transmission oil for the M-DCT gearbox. All these intervals must be shortened to 20,000 miles at most if you take your M2 to the track or drive in adverse conditions such dusty or muddy terrain, or in high temperatures.

Power steering fluid is a non-issue, because the M2 exclusively employed electric assistance. It's also interesting to note that the N55 and S55 engines use the same service items, so filters and lubricants are all identical.

1st Gen BMW M2 Basic Service

The BMW N55 and S55 engines both take roughly 7.4 quarts (6.9 liters), and they use the same oil type as well. BMW-approved 0W-30 full-synthetic engine oil with an OEM-level oil filter should set you back between $75 and $125, depending on the brand of oil you choose. An OEM air filter costs about $48, and a set of OEM spark plugs costs around $240.

2016-2021 BMW M2 Tires

Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 9"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 10"
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 9"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 10"
Front Tire Size:
Front Wheel Size:
19" x 9"
Rear Tire Size:
Rear Wheel Size:
19" x 10"

Check Before You Buy

There are very few 2016-2021 BMW M2 recalls to note, and most of these recalls were quite easy to remedy. The list starts with a recall campaign for the rear subframe bolts on 2016 M2s, which may loosen and possibly lead to a loss of vehicle control. This is particularly relevant on cars where the differential has been serviced without replacement of the original bolts. For more information, have a look at NHTSA Campaign Number 16V653000 to get more details.

The next recall only involves 2018 BMW M2s, which may have a problem with the instrument cluster's illumination control software. This could leave parts of the instrument cluster out of action, withholding important information from the driver. NHTSA Campaign Number 17V719000 has more information about this recall, which involves a simple re-programming of the cluster's software and shouldn't take very long to execute.

2019 and 2020 BMW M2s are subject to an airbag recall, but this time, the ongoing Takata airbag recall has nothing to do with it. Instead, this one relates to the front knee airbags, which may not be folded correctly, and may not deploy effectively in the case of a collision. According to NHTSA Campaign Number 19V352000, this will be remedied at the BMW dealership by replacement of both airbag units.

Finally, 2019 and 2020 M2 Competitions were recalled for faulty fuel injectors. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V666000 states that some injectors were produced without a critical damping component, which may lead to cracks where the injector connects to its feed pipe. This could cause a high-pressure fuel leak, which would increase the risk of an engine bay fire. Replacing the injectors is the only way to solve this problem, so ensure that this recall repair has been performed.

2016-2021 BMW M2 Common Problems

Common N55 and S55 Engine Problems

As with most modern BMW engines, the valve cover and its rubber gasket are known to develop oil leaks with age. The gasket starts leaking first, but lifting the brittle, plastic valve cover to replace it could easily cause it to crack - and then leak even more! For this reason, we recommend replacing both the valve cover and its gasket at the same time. The rubber oil pan gasket is also prone to start leaking with age. This problem is not as common as valve cover gasket leaks, but it involves a lot of work to replace it because the procedure entails removing the front subframe to gain access.

Oil-filter housing and gasket leaks are a known issue with BMW N54/N55/S55 engines and are once again caused by the use of plastic for the oil filter housing. Like the valve cover, the oil filter housing also uses rubber seals, so the oil leaks will eventually surface in this area. If the filter housing gasket leaks internally, it could result in oil and coolant mixing, reducing the oil's lubrication properties and contaminating the engine's bearings in the process - eventually leading to internal engine damage. Leakage to the outside also has the potential for causing harm, because the leaking oil will degrade the serpentine drive belt, which could then disintegrate and lead to more-severe engine damage. Fortunately, these components are mounted in front of the engine, so the repair won't cost too much on labor charges.

Many important components in a BMW M2 or M2 Competition engine are sealed plastic units, which can only withstand a finite number of heat cycles before degrading, and their thermostat housings fall squarely in this category. Both the N55 and S55 engines can be prone to thermostat housing failure, and this problem must be addressed before it leads to overheating and a potentially-fatal engine failure. This is quite a labor-intensive repair, so best schedule it to be performed while the oil filter housing is being replaced at around 60,000 miles.

Another common BMW issue, which is likely to start around 70,000 miles, involves the Vanos control solenoid failure, usually due to perished rubber seals. This isn't a difficult item to repair, and BMW can supply either a complete solenoid assembly or a solenoid valve repair kit to remedy this problem.

Mileage: Gasket leakage manifest around 50,000 miles and the valve cover can crack from 100,000 miles. Expect oil pan leaks from around 100,000 miles. Oil filter housing gaskets often start leaking from 50,000 miles, while the filter housing itself could start leaking from 80,000 miles. Thermostat housings usually fail from 60,000 miles, but some owners reported failure as low as 36,000 miles. Vanos solenoids fail every 70,000 miles or so.

Cost: An OEM valve cover gasket costs about $40, a valve cover about $580, and labor will be close to $1,000. Roughly $44 for an oil-pan gasket and up to $1,000 for labor. About $300 for an OEM oil filter housing, around $29 for the gasket, and about $200 in labor. About $115-$140 for an S55 OEM thermostat assembly, $500 for labor if performed as a single repair. About $400 including labor to replace a Vanos solenoid or $200 for an OEM solenoid valve repair kit.

How to spot: Valve-cover leaks result in a smell of burning oil, smoke coming from a hot engine, and visible traces of oil leaks on the cylinder head. Oil-pan leaks lead to drops under the engine and frequent oil top-ups. Oil-filter housing leaks cause visible oil leaks in front of the engine, oil spots on the serpentine belt, oil drops under the engine, and a frequent need for top-up oil. Failed thermostat housings lead to visible signs of coolant leaks in front of the engine, a need for frequent coolant top-ups, and overheating in the worst cases. Vanos failure causes inconsistent performance, hard starting, rough idle, and an illuminated Check Engine Light.

N55 Coolant Pump Failure (2016-2018)

While the N55 is a great engine in its own right, there is one potential point of failure that affects this engine specifically, everywhere it is used. The N55's coolant pump is electrically-driven and uses a composite impeller, and both of these factors make the water pump on a non-Competition M2 a potential headache.

Mileage: Failures have been reported from as low as 40,000 miles

Cost: An OEM coolant pump costs about $455, with another $500 in labor to replace it.

How to spot: Coolant leak trails in front of the engine, rapid overheating and coolant loss through the radiator cap, and whining noises from the front of the engine.

Ignition Coil Failure

This is a common complaint with most coil-on-plug ignition systems, so coil pack hassles aren't confined to the BMW N55 or S55 engines at all. This issue usually appears at higher mileages, which is why many owners and BMW specialists recommend replacing the coil packs around the 60,000 mark.

Mileage: From 60,000 miles.

Cost: About $63 per ignition coil pack.

How to spot: Misfiring, rough running, lack of power, hard starting.

Noisy Differential

Like almost all M-cars, the BMW M2 employs a limited-slip differential to great effect. On the normal (pre-facelift) M2, this is a purely-mechanical unit, while the M2 Competition was upgraded to feature the same electronically-controlled differential as is found in the first-generation M4.

These clever differentials need top-quality oil to perform at their best and neglecting to change their oil every 30,000 miles or so will cause them to make weird groaning or rubbing noises in tight turns. Changing the diff oil early will prevent this from happening (or alleviate the symptoms), but ignoring these tell-tale signs will eventually lead to permanent differential damage.

Mileage: Between 40,000 and 60,000 miles.

Cost: About $220 for OEM limited-slip differential oil.

How to spot: Grinding, groaning, or rubbing noises from the rear axle in tight turns.

Less Common Problems and Problem-Free Areas

Whichever gearbox is in use, 2016-2021 BMW M2s are not known for transmission problems. Provided an M-DCT gearbox's oil and filter are replaced on a regular basis (every 30,000 miles), the dual-clutch transmission appears to be pretty tough, while manual-transmission cars don't have much in the way of problems to report.

Their electrical systems are also proving to be quite robust as well, with few problems regarding its body electrics and control electronics. The brakes are similarly strong, being derived from the items used in the M3 and M4, and there are no drivetrain problems to note.

Regardless of its engine type, the BMW M2 is unlikely to even manifest a problem, which mostly affected the S55 in 2016-2018 BMW M3s and M4s, and is even less common on the N55 from which it is derived. This relates to crank hub failures, whereby the timing chain sprocket could dislodge itself from the crankshaft in hard driving, leading to the engine's timing going out and eventually causing contact between pistons and valves.

But, even in those earlier S55 iterations, a failure rate leading to such catastrophic engine damage was only around 0.5%, and 2019-on S55 owners don't see this as a threat at all. There will be some early warning signs if such a disaster becomes imminent, with the CEL illuminating, the engine going into limp mode (which will cause a notable drop in performance), and an uneven idle. If these symptoms appear on your M2 or M2 Competition, better have the car towed to a BMW specialist to avoid potentially serious damage.

Replacement OEM crank hubs are fairly affordable, costing about $250 including tensioners and a new timing chain. Labor charges could run up to 10 hours, though, depending on the workshop performing the operation. But, aside from this possible issue, the BMW N55 and S55 engines are still counted among the most-reliable M-car engines in history.

Which One To Avoid

There is no real dud in the entire F87 BMW M2 line-up, so advising against buying any of them would be unfair. However, if speed and sophistication is your ultimate concern, the pre-facelift M2 (2016-2018) is somewhat less-desirable among enthusiasts. The earlier cars didn't have a "real" M-engine, and it didn't have "real" M-car seats or styling additions, so if perceived authenticity is important in your M2 purchase, rather skip the N55-powered versions.

Which One To Buy

The answer to this question depends entirely on your demands. If you want the most speed with the nicest interior and the raciest possible handling, try to get your hands on a 2020 M2 CS. If you can't find one, a 2019-2021 M2 Competition will satisfy your needs almost as well, leaving the choice of gearbox as your only variable.

But, ironically, the normal pre-facelift M2 is an absolute joy to drive, with grip limits that are easier to explore than those of the re-tuned Competition models, and with all the desirable traditional M-car sensations behind the wheel. It helps that older M2s are a lot less expensive than Competitions too, making them surprisingly good value for money. If you don't care too much for outright speed and really crave an engaging performance car with accessible limits, pin-sharp steering, and beautifully-balanced dynamics at a comparatively bargain price, we'd seriously suggest a 2017 or 2018 M2 with a manual gearbox over its newer replacements.

1st gen BMW M2 (F87) Verdict

After decades of M3s growing bigger, more complicated, and more expensive, the first-generation BMW M2 was a remarkable return to form for BMW M when it appeared. It's compact and nimble, genuinely great fun to hustle through the corners, and has enough power to earn its M-car badging.

And, while the M2 also gradually evolved into a real tire-shredder in Competition and CS forms, they still retained most of the purity of purpose, which marked their earliest ancestors. More than just an M4 Lite, the M2 re-awakened the spirit of fun in BMW M's smaller cars and is very likely to become a future classic. But, until then, get an M2 if you can, because matching driving thrills will be difficult to find anywhere else.

M2 F87(1st Generation) Alternatives

If you're shopping for 2016-2021 BMW M2 you should consider these alternatives
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