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Review: The 2019 BMW M2 Competition takes fun to the next level

Key Points
  • The BMW M2 Competition replaces the standard M2 as the entry-level BMW M model.
  • It's the most fun and predictable car we've ever reviewed, with an all-star chassis.
  • It's not luxurious or particularly comfortable, but we love it.
2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC

In the world of BMW, M-model cars are the kings. Cars like the M3, M4 and M5 represent the quickest, most exclusive and most expensive models in the Bavarian stable. Competition models take things a step further, with tweaked suspensions and upgraded engines that provide maximum performance.

So when we say that the M2 Competition is about as good as BMW gets, that shouldn't come as a surprise. It doesn't offer the luxury experience that your neighbor's X5 crossover does, but the M2 Competition is so much fun that you won't care.

The Good

In the past, most competition-spec BMW models have been sold alongside their standard counterparts. That's not the case here, as the 2019 BMW M2 Competition replaces the 2018 M2 in the lineup. That means all 2019 models have a stiffened chassis, new exhaust system and a new engine. The inline-six cylinder, twin-scroll turbocharged engine is the same basic powerplant you'd get in a BMW M3 or M4, producing 410 horsepower.

2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC

Mated to the optional dual-clutch transmission, that engine will pull to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Opting for the manual slows things down a bit as you're missing out on launch control and the lightning shifts of the automatic box. BMW's dual-clutch boxes swap gears in just a few milliseconds, so we'd be understating the speed if we said it happened in the blink of an eye.

Of course, a lot of cars have more powerful engines and amazing gearboxes. What makes the M2 Competition the most fun car we've ever reviewed is the brilliant chassis and suspension setup. With an overly enthusiastic dab of throttle, you can easily get the back to slide on every turn if you desire.

No matter how many times you slide it around or how much of a fool you're being, the M2 Competition won't bite you. Even with stability control off, it's incredibly easy to slide but nearly impossible to spin. If you're sliding and you want to regain grip, a quick flick of the upshift paddle or relaxing the throttle will get it hooked back up without incident.

2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC

With precise steering that offers a lot of feedback to the driver, that behavior helps make the M2 Competition one of the most predictable performance cars out there. Whether you want to slide through a corner or take it at high speed without letting the back step out, this BMW is so well-balanced that you can consistently and confidently drive it exactly how you want to. Plus, there is a track mode for the stability control that allows you to have fun but will intervene and cut power if you're at risk of losing control.

It's not just the most fun BMW on sale or the most predictable sports coupe. It's genuinely one of the most exciting and balanced performance vehicles on sale at any price point. At $67,045, it's a hell of a performance bargain.

The Bad

If you're looking for a luxury performance vehicle, you've probably arrived at the wrong place. The money in this car went toward an amazing powertrain and driving experience, not on whiz-bang tech and a decadent interior.

The M2 Competition makes do with a last-generation version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which is perfectly usable but not exciting or cutting edge. The interior has a lot of dark plastics and hard buttons, which serve their function without wowing anyone. Again, this isn't a luxury experience.

2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC

This is especially apparent on low-speed drives through cities, where the stiffness of the BMW's ride can become tiresome. It thunks into potholes without much softening, though it relaxes considerably on the highway and is always quiet. If you're planning on driving one through cities and in traffic daily, it's a tough sell.

If you are looking for pure performance and fun, there are only a few things you need to consider. First, BMW continues its tradition of making performance cars that just don't sound that great. The engine doesn't have the aural sense of occasion that performance cars from Alfa Romeo and Mercedes provide.

Finally, the shifter for the dual-clutch transmission is obnoxious. Look at it and you'll notice that there isn't a "park" position or button. So you might assume that you're supposed to leave it in neutral and set the parking brake, but if you do that the car will not allow you to lock the doors because it isn't "secured" against rolling. Instead, you leave the transmission in drive and turn the car off, which then puts it in park. That's so tremendously unintuitive that I'm not sure how they ever came up with it.

Luckily, since this vehicle is all about fun, you can solve that problem by just going for the more exciting manual transmission.

2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC
How We'd Option It

The M2 Competition starts at $59,895 with destination charges. Budget $550 if you don't want it in white. We're quite partial to Long Beach Blue, but there's also a great orange color and the Hockenheim Silver pictured on our test car.

The Competition also has lovely exclusive wheels that didn't come on the test car, as it was riding on winter tires to handle a life based in Detroit. We'd skip the executive package and the dual-clutch transmission, but the dark cabin would benefit from the $1,050 moonroof. That brings the total to $61,495.

Final Thoughts

The M2 Competition went away weeks ago, but we can't stop thinking about it. It was incredible, easily securing its place as the most fun car we've driven. That our preferred spec is available for just north of $60,000 is genuinely amazing.

It's not a luxury car. It's not a tech flagship. It's not even the fastest thing around. What it is is the most fun, most predictable and most exciting thing you can get for the price.

Rating:

Exterior: 4.5

Interior: 2.5

Driving Experience: 5

Value: 5

Overall: 4

Price as tested: $67,045

* Rating out of 5.

2019 BMW M2 Competition
Mack Hogan/CNBC