BMW M2 History | The Evolution of the F87 and Beyond

22nd Mar 2023

By Kenny Longdon

BMW M Cars

In the automotive world there are few letters that have such a significance as the letter M. Put simply, M stands for 'Motorsport' when talking about BMW M.

The history of BMW M showcases a plethora of legendary cars which have spawned from this legendary subsidiary of BMW, responsible for crafting bespoke racing-inspired, high performance cars for the road.

With the iconic BMW M3 having been the entry-level M car for many generations, times and consumer habits change and manufacturers look to target new customers.

With the introduction of the more affordable BMW 1 Series (2004) and BMW 2 Series (2014), petrolheads and keen drivers were excited at the prospect that newer, more affordable M cars could be on the horizon.

Below we take a look at the birth of the BMW M2, and the iconic cars that set the foundations for its introduction.

Compact Cars

BMW M2, 2002 Turbo and 1M

To set the scene for the M2, we will take a little look at the compact BMW and BMW M cars that came before it; some of which featured in the wording of the M2's official press release, and launch photos back in 2016.

Starting way back in 1974, with the compendious BMW 2002 Turbo, which is not actually an M car. However, the 2002 Turbo wore the now iconic M tricolour over its white paintwork and housed high performance in a compact package (pictured). The 2002 Turbo lit the spark for smaller, more affordable high performance BMW and BMW M cars.

Fast forward to the eighties, and the first generation of the M3; the legendary E30 was the most compact BMW M car you could buy. The classic boxy arches and the car's success in racing meant people lusted after it, even today, examples can sell well in excess of six figures. It may not appear in M2 press photos, but BMW M express how the M2 is indeed a descendant of the first M3.

Then, with the introduction of the BMW 1 Series in 2004, it was not until 2011 that the BMW 1M Coupe was introduced (pictured in Valencia Orange), taking over from the E92 M3 as the entry-level M car in the range. 

With the 1M limited to just 450 examples, this entry into M car ownership was not as accessible as many as hoped, with examples quickly selling out. This of course heavily increased demand for smaller, more accessible M cars. So, with the launch of the 2 Series in 2014, enthusiasts started getting excited again, and in 2016 BMW M delighted petrolheads by launching the M2, the direct heir to the 1M.

The Original BMW M2


Often referred to as the 'OG' by enthusiasts, the original M2 was the first in a three-model evolution of F87 generation M2 offerings, followed by a Competition ('Comp') model in 2018, before finally bowing out with a limited run-out CS model in 2019.

The 'OG' came loaded with 365bhp, produced from its 3.0-litre, in-line 6-cylinder 'N55' engine, complemented by textbook BMW rear-wheel drive and the choice of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. It also featured parts from the M3 and M4, such as the front and rear axles.

Despite the seemingly exciting compact, yet pumped up package, the M2 was given criticism by some as the 'N55' was not a bespoke M engine, a criticism shared with the 1M, as that too used a non-M 'N54' engine. Not that these decisions by BMW M mattered as both cars sold extremely well with the 1M allocations selling rather rapidly, and M2 waiting lists stretching over several years upon launch.

And the waiting lists were for good reason. The compact M2 was an instant hit, reminding drivers of the 1M that had gone before it, along with hints of E30 M3 and 2002 Turbo from BMW and BMW M's back catalogue of more accessible models. 

The motoring press loved it too, with Jeremy Clarkson stating on an episode of The Grand Tour, in which he tested an M2, that he thought that it was the best M car BMW had ever made. A great foundation for the future 'Comp' and 'CS' to build on. Owners and admirers commented on the car's rawness, and engaging drive, especially with the option of a manual transmission.

Only a handful of colours were available; Alpine White, Black Sapphire, Mineral Grey and the launch colour of Long Beach Blue. A facelifted 'LCI' model came along in 2017 which featured minor enhancements, some of which included new LED rear lights, and a new backlit instrument cluster which gives an almost digital look. 

Out the box, the 'OG' M2 is a quick car, with 0 to 62mph taking just 4.5 seconds with a manual gearbox or 4.3 seconds with the auto.

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BMW M2 Competition

BMW M2 Competition

In 2018 the BMW M2 Competition replaced the 'OG', and featured a mix of upgrades which some thought should have been included on the 'OG'.

Firstly, the engine was a bespoke M engine, in the form of the 'S55' which was first seen in the F80 M3 and F82 M4, along with the F83 M4 (convertible M4). It was de-tuned to 404bhp in order to not show up its bigger siblings but still gave incredible performance for an 'entry-level' M car, and upped the power of the 'OG' by 39bhp.

The front end received a new take on the iconic BMW kidney grille, and the rear end saw a different exhaust due to newer regulations, often criticised due to how low it hangs, and how it does not sound as throaty as the 'OG' M2's N55.

Competition models got better seats too, which were the same as those you got in an M3 or M4, but other than that the cabin was almost identical to that of the 'OG'.

With more power came better performance, with the 0 to 62mph taking just 4.4 seconds in the manual, and 4.2 seconds in the auto, an improvement of a tenth of a second on the 'OG' when compared to the same transmissions.

The 'Comp' got two new colours; Hockenheim Silver and Sunset Orange, whilst you could also get Alpine White, Sapphire Black and Long Beach Blue which was first seen on the 'OG'. Interestingly, Mineral Grey was dropped.

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BMW M2 Competition

The final F87 generation M2 was the limited run-out CS model, and so BMW M turned up the wick of what was possible from an F87 M2. So much so, that it won the highly coveted EVO Car of the Year for 2020, outshining some of the latest supercars in the process. 

The 'OG' had 365bhp, the 'Comp' increased power by 39bhp up to 404bhp, so almost identically, the CS upped the stakes by 40bhp, to 444bhp. This increased the performance yet again of what was possible from an F87, giving the CS a 0 to 62mph time of 4.2 seconds with the manual, or 4.0 seconds with the automatic, bettering the 'Comp' times by two tenths of a second when compared with the same transmissions.

Interestingly, the ride is more refined in the CS, despite it being the most 'hardcore' of the trio, which is due to the car's adaptive dampers. On the other hand, BMW M did get rid of the armrest, which seemed a bit too hardcore for some.

The CS follows a similar colour choice to the 'OG' and 'Comp' and is therefore available in Alpine White, Hockenheim Silver, Sapphire Black, with Long Beach Blue and Sunset Orange being dropped, and seemingly replaced by the exclusive launch colour of the CS which was Misano Blue.

CS models feature 763M wheels, finished in gold or black to add even more spice to the overall look, along with other exclusive enhancements which sees the bonnet, front splitter, mirror caps, gurney flap, diffuser, and roof all being made from carbon fibre. Carbon ceramic brakes were also an option.

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BMW M2 Comparisons

M2 Trio

If you are looking for a raw M car feeling, and are not bothered by a firm and somewhat unsettled ride over some roads, the 'OG' M2 is a car brimming with character. It is a car which feels special without being too stripped back like that of some more hardcore sports cars.

The M2 Competition is a better all-rounder which feels more refined due to the engine, seats and extra power. Yes, it arguably does not sound as good as the original, but will perhaps be a better choice if you plan on using the car as a daily driver.

The M2 CS is the ultimate M2 if budget is not a concern. Enthusiasts argue that a modified Competition could be just as good, or even a well set-up OG, but the limited edition CS will always appeal as the best BMW M offered from the factory. Interestingly, it is the most compliant over UK roads, despite being the most 'hardcore', but this as mentioned is due to the trick adaptive dampers.

The BMW M2 history up to this point has been a real positive for BMW M in terms of sales and creating a following for its entry-level M cars.

At the time of writing a decent 'OG' can be had for around £28,000 to £34,000, with a Competition commanding £36,000 to £44,000, whilst CS models sell for £70,000 plus. Of course, low mileage examples of either model can go well above their approx values.

If you are a keen driver, and like the idea of a car that offers old school feel, great looks and textbook M car traits, no matter which model of F87 M2 you go for, you will not be disappointed.

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BMW M2 G87

BMW M2 G87

This brings us onto the G87 generation M2, which will replace the F87 later this year in 2023. With the success of the F87 M2, the G87 M2 looks to carry on the legacy, and with it carry on the success of compact BMW M cars throughout history.

Carrying on with the striking design we have come to expect from G Series BMW models, the G87 M2 will appeal to those who want to stand out. And, with the likes of the G80 M3 and G82 M4, not to mention the G81 M3 Touring, which all offering superb driving experiences, the G87 M2 with its more compact approach will no doubt follow suit.

And with the electrification of cars being very much an inevitable part of our future, this compact M car is surely one of the last ICE models to spawn from the legendary bloodline of BMW M.

You can read more about the all-new M2, along with how to order one from Stratstone BMW on our dedicated G87 M2 page.

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Find your perfect M car at Stratstone BMW

As an official retailer of BMW M cars via our Stratstone BMW retailers, we can help you find your perfect M car, whether it is from the new or used BMW range.

Alternatively, if you enjoyed this article, why not check out our dedicated blog section, which features many articles regarding BMW, M cars and much more.