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      07-15-2019, 11:49 PM   #1
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M Town Tour test drive experience (M2 Comp and M5 Comp driving review)

Hi all,

The M Town Tour was at my local dealership today, and I got to test drive some newer M cars! I'm a happy M240i owner (6-speed slick top + LSD), but it was my first time ever driving a true M car. Mixed feelings overall, but I'll try my best to describe what I thought.

M2 Competition DCT
I was/am seriously considering trading up from my M240i, but my experience today with the M2 was a bit disappointing if I'm being honest.

First and foremost, it had the super thick M Performance V2 steering wheel, which felt like total crap. Beautiful to look at, but horrible to drive with. I mean, who really has hands that big other than Kawhi Leonard??! It ruined what is supposed to be the best part of the car to interact with. My M Performance wheel in my M240i (or even the stock M Sport wheel) feels far better in the hands.

The next big issue I had was with the DCT transmission. I toggled between Sport and Sport+ and I was driving in DTC/MDM mode the whole time. Maybe I've been spoiled by Porsche's unbelievably good PDK, but I found DCT to be sub-par. Too much lag from the time I tip in the throttle to when I get moving. Felt just like I was starting off in my 6-speed M240i as I let off the clutch pedal. I heard the engine rev, then a delay (similar to when letting off the clutch pedal), then I got moving. TBH, I felt like I can start off faster in my 6-speed. Also, during normal driving in traffic in manual shift mode, it felt like there was quite a bit of delay during upshifts and downshifts. I would pull a shift paddle and a good 0.5 to 1 second would go by before the shift would happen. Speaking of shifts, they were pretty jerky when they did happen. When I put my foot down and gave it full beans, it would finally shift very quickly with each pull of the paddle, which was nice to experience, but still a bit too clunky feeling in my opinion. Overall, it feels just like a 6-speed manual shifting on its own, albeit very quickly when revving it out under WOT. One of the major reasons I am considering moving to a M2 is for the automatic gear changes when I go to the track, but now... I don't know if DCT is worth the compromises and lack of fun on the street!

Okay.. moving on to engine and sound. S55 is a beast, but doesn't sound that great from the inside. I don't know if what I was feeling was excessive turbo lag or just a monstrous wave of torque coming on suddenly, but I wanted it to have more of a snappy throttle response than it did. Instead, it seemed like it was struggling to rev.. then BAM, tires just get lit up from all the torque! Haha. It was fun to experience in a way, but not quite what I was expecting after being used to my lovely B58 engine's power/torque characteristics. Speaking of the B58, it sounds better than the S55 for sure in terms of pure melody and tone. I felt like the M2 Comp was significantly louder, which was awesome and makes me realize how badly I need to mod my exhaust now for more volume, but the M2 does not actually sound as good. It did however, make me smile big time when I went through a short tunnel while under WOT with the windows down! Just super loud and fun with some gun shot pops echoing off the concrete walls! I asked one of the M Town Tour staffers if it had any exhaust mods when I first started it up and got a nice, loud race car grumble that made me say, "Whoa!" I was told it had the M Performance exhaust (I had to finish his sentence because he didn't even know what it was called), but after the test drive I took a peek underneath the rear and didn't see a single M Performance logo anywhere. Oh well. Long story short, it sounded pretty good upon start-up and from the outside when going through the tunnel, but from the driver's seat, it did indeed sound like a loud lawn mower.

Will I sell the M240i and buy the M2? I'm not so sure. I think I need to get my hands on a M2 Comp w/ a manual gearbox and take it on track before I can really make an apples to apples comparison. Unfortunately, I didn't get to exploit the seemingly awesome chassis and suspension on public roads, but I have a feeling it would impress on a track. Maybe one day I'll find out...

M5 Competition
Okay, this thing was just an animal! Totally impressive machine. How they are able to make such a heavy car go so fast, I don't really know, but I don't care. It was fun as hell! A few quick observations:

- It sounded fabulous, but like my M240i, it was far too quiet and muffled to raise the hair on my arms. A new exhaust system would do the trick though, I'm sure.

- ZF 8-speed is incredible! Just as fast and sporty, if not faster in all scenarios than the M2's DCT gearbox. Say what you will about the "slushbox," but it provides all of the speed and engagement of the DCT with none of the drawbacks in traffic.

- It felt much smaller and sportier from the driver's seat than I ever could have imagined. It's a big, long car, but feels and drives like a smaller coupe. I really liked this attribute.

- It feels very much like a RWD-propelled car even in MDM 4WD mode in terms of chassis balance, but I could swear I was getting some torque steer under WOT as the front wheels were trying to grip. The steering wheel was fighting me a bit, and I struggled a bit to keep the car in a perfectly straight line as a result of whatever was going on underneath me.

Overall, the car is . If only I were crazy enough to spend that kind of dough on a daily driver, this is no doubt the car I'd choose for the morning cappuccino + preschool drop-off routine!

I won't comment on the interiors of either of these cars, because they were both all-black and ugly. I was only there to see how they drove anyhow...

I'll end this by saying the BMW M Town Tour staff was extremely pleasant, friendly, and very accommodating. They did a great job at making sure I was having fun, so want to give them a big shout out and a big THANK YOU! Highly recommend you go take advantage if your local dealership is participating so you can see for yourselves just what these cars have to offer.

Cheers!

Last edited by CP911; 07-15-2019 at 11:56 PM..
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      07-16-2019, 01:06 AM   #2
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What shift speed was the M2's gearbox set to? I always have mine set to the middle speed as I find that the lowest speed is very slow and the fastest speed is actually almost too fast, it upsets the car enough to have the traction light come on between 2nd and 3rd whereas in the middle speed I'll have perfect grip.

Curiously I just spent some time in an F90 M5 and I thought the gearbox was very similar for one gear change below about 3-4k, but if you were changing above that it was quite slow at times and if you wanted to change multiple times it was massively slow and reminded my of my old C63.
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      07-16-2019, 09:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad850csi View Post
What shift speed was the M2's gearbox set to? I always have mine set to the middle speed as I find that the lowest speed is very slow and the fastest speed is actually almost too fast, it upsets the car enough to have the traction light come on between 2nd and 3rd whereas in the middle speed I'll have perfect grip.

Curiously I just spent some time in an F90 M5 and I thought the gearbox was very similar for one gear change below about 3-4k, but if you were changing above that it was quite slow at times and if you wanted to change multiple times it was massively slow and reminded my of my old C63.
It was set to Sport aka medium for the majority of the time. If I'm remembering correctly, there was Efficient, Sport, and Sport Plus. I didn't try Efficient because I figured who buys a M car to drive efficiently, but looking back, I should have given it a try to see how it changed the behavior of the car.

I most definitely was breaking traction between gear changes... that was not an issue for me. Added to the fun factor for sure.

Also, I'm wondering if the standard M5 has different transmission tuning than the M5 Competition I drove. I found no issues with the ZF 8-speed. I tried 2 downshifts in quick succession and it was right on the money. I did not try multiple upshifts in quick succession, but there would never be a reason to need quick shifts in this scenario. As long as each single upshift happens quickly, which it did, then it's all good by my standards.
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      07-16-2019, 01:36 PM   #4
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Ahh there is another setting for the gearbox It is at the back of the gear lever, you can see it in the pics here with 3 horizontal lines on it

https://f87.bimmerpost.com/forums/sh....php?t=1487328

Ohh I couldn't find a pic in that thread of the dash showing the display but it is in the middle of the tacho and speedo in the M6, I assume it would be the same in the M2. There is a picture here of the car with it in the slowest shifting mode near the end of the UK press pics.

https://www.6post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=780486
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      07-16-2019, 02:58 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=brad850csi;25033504]Ahh there is another setting for the gearbox It is at the back of the gear lever, you can see it in the pics here with 3 horizontal lines on it

https://f87.bimmerpost.com/forums/sh....php?t=1487328

This!

I too was disappointed with the M2C during my M-town drive. Until during the last couple of minutes when i discovered this button. I changed the SMG setting near the gear selector and WOW! Totally transformed the car! Why even have the lowest setting...ruined my test drive.
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      07-16-2019, 03:45 PM   #6
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I'm glad you guys mentioned this. I did find this button with 3 horizontal lines, but couldn't figure out what it was for. When I pressed it, nothing was showing up on the digital instrument cluster. However, if I'm remembering correctly, I noticed it changing something either on the iDrive display...or was it the button itself illuminating??? I can't remember where it was changing now, but I do remember stopping when I saw 2 of the 3 lines show up, thinking to myself, "Well, whatever this is, it's probably set to medium and that'll work."

So was the button above the steering weight control button (the one with the small tach symbol that I set to Sport) actually throttle response, then? That was my first thought, but the guy who got me into the car told me it was the "transmission speed button."
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      07-16-2019, 09:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CP911 View Post
I'm glad you guys mentioned this. I did find this button with 3 horizontal lines, but couldn't figure out what it was for. When I pressed it, nothing was showing up on the digital instrument cluster. However, if I'm remembering correctly, I noticed it changing something either on the iDrive display...or was it the button itself illuminating??? I can't remember where it was changing now, but I do remember stopping when I saw 2 of the 3 lines show up, thinking to myself, "Well, whatever this is, it's probably set to medium and that'll work."

So was the button above the steering weight control button (the one with the small tach symbol that I set to Sport) actually throttle response, then? That was my first thought, but the guy who got me into the car told me it was the "transmission speed button."
Yes efficient, sport, and sport+ are the settings for throttle response (as well as anti-lag, cooling, and numerous other things activated in the different modes).

As mentioned, the button with the 3 bars controls the DCT shift speed. I would imagine it just takes some getting used to the DCT and how to drive it because while it may not be pdk good I certainly don't hear many complaining that the shifts aren't lighting fast.
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      07-17-2019, 12:53 AM   #8
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Honestly, go and drive another M2C again! In speed 1 the car is utter rubbish.
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      07-17-2019, 07:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad850csi View Post
Honestly, go and drive another M2C again! In speed 1 the car is utter rubbish.
I believe I was in DCT speed 2 i.e. 2 of the 3 lines were illuminated. Either way, I think I'm going to sign up for the M Track Day event when it comes to my local track this September at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. I need to experience these cars on the track to fully understand what they can offer. Just praying they don't have that horribly fat V2 steering wheel on the M2 or M4!
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      07-19-2019, 07:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CP911 View Post

M2 Competition DCT
I was/am seriously considering trading up from my M240i, but my experience today with the M2 was a bit disappointing if I'm being honest.

First and foremost, it had the super thick M Performance V2 steering wheel, which felt like total crap. Beautiful to look at, but horrible to drive with. I mean, who really has hands that big other than Kawhi Leonard??! It ruined what is supposed to be the best part of the car to interact with. My M Performance wheel in my M240i (or even the stock M Sport wheel) feels far better in the hands.
I gotta agree with you here for street driving. I have the thick alcantera wheel in my M3 CS and it's not very comfortable to drive on the street. My hands start to feel numb if I drive for around an hour or so. However, I do appreciate the beefiness on the track.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CP911 View Post
The next big issue I had was with the DCT transmission. I toggled between Sport and Sport+ and I was driving in DTC/MDM mode the whole time. Maybe I've been spoiled by Porsche's unbelievably good PDK, but I found DCT to be sub-par. Too much lag from the time I tip in the throttle to when I get moving. Felt just like I was starting off in my 6-speed M240i as I let off the clutch pedal. I heard the engine rev, then a delay (similar to when letting off the clutch pedal), then I got moving. TBH, I felt like I can start off faster in my 6-speed. Also, during normal driving in traffic in manual shift mode, it felt like there was quite a bit of delay during upshifts and downshifts. I would pull a shift paddle and a good 0.5 to 1 second would go by before the shift would happen. Speaking of shifts, they were pretty jerky when they did happen. When I put my foot down and gave it full beans, it would finally shift very quickly with each pull of the paddle, which was nice to experience, but still a bit too clunky feeling in my opinion. Overall, it feels just like a 6-speed manual shifting on its own, albeit very quickly when revving it out under WOT. One of the major reasons I am considering moving to a M2 is for the automatic gear changes when I go to the track, but now... I don't know if DCT is worth the compromises and lack of fun on the street!
I think the other posters nailed it. You were in the wrong mode. I find the DCT to be a huge plus in any M Car. I'm also wondering what traction control mode you were in. The M2C will break traction much much easier than your M240i, even in 2nd gear. With full nannies, it will cut you off if you get too eager. I have not driven the Competition variant of the M2, but even the M2 was slow to jump at WOT because of traction control. In my M3 CS, it must be off or in M Dynamic to feel like it's letting you do what you are telling it to do, I'm guessing it is the same with the M2C. On the track, in M Dynamic the M2 is a complete joy to drive.
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      07-19-2019, 10:31 PM   #11
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@ jmg

I was in the "middle" DCT shift mode i.e. 2 of the 3 horizontal bars were illuminated and was in M Dynamic mode the entire time. I did not want DSC intervening and diluting the experience. It certainly did not.

Again, it was not a lack of power or torque that disappointed me. It was the rough shifting feel, delayed start from a dead stop, slow shift speeds when not hammering it, the power band characteristics, and sound from the driver's seat that I felt were a bit disappointing after reading so many positive things about the M2C. Perhaps my expectations were just too high or I've simply been spoiled by other transmissions and/or engines that suited my tastes better.

I'm not giving up on it though. Need to somehow test a 6-speed manual M2C along with trying the S55 + DCT combo at the upcoming M Track Days event. My understanding is that their M4 is used for lapping the road course while the M2C is unfortunately used for auto-x exercises only. Still, the M4 should give me a decent idea of what the S55 + DCT can do on track compared to my current car.
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      07-21-2019, 12:01 PM   #12
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What kind of venue do you get to drive on during the M Town Tour? A track? We drove M5s at COTA and they were pretty underwhelming.
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      07-21-2019, 01:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
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What kind of venue do you get to drive on during the M Town Tour? A track? We drove M5s at COTA and they were pretty underwhelming.
It is not a venue. They pre-program a route in GPS that takes you on a big loop nearby the dealership.

Also, my feedback is on the M5 Competition and not the regular M5. It was anything but underwhelming for me, except for maybe the exhaust noise levels. I'm sure this is done on purpose as anyone buying this car will still be using it on their daily commute and most people would not "fit in" with an obnoxiously loud exhaust.
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      07-22-2019, 11:43 PM   #14
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Maybe I'm just a noob but I thought the M2 was legit. It's as pure a "BMW" experience as you'll get. I was enamored and it moved to the top of my shopping list.

I didn't drive the M5. Experiencing the power would've been cool but I just had a 540 loaner that kind of bored me so I didn't think the M version would be that thrilling. Maybe I was mistaken.
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      07-23-2019, 08:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Maybe I'm just a noob but I thought the M2 was legit. It's as pure a "BMW" experience as you'll get. I was enamored and it moved to the top of my shopping list.

I didn't drive the M5. Experiencing the power would've been cool but I just had a 540 loaner that kind of bored me so I didn't think the M version would be that thrilling. Maybe I was mistaken.
I bet it would be on a track where the suspension and chassis could shine. However, on the street, my lowly M240i with the B58's almost naturally-aspirated power band characteristics and excellent 6-speed manual transmission feels far more "purist" to me. It's also lighter by a couple hundred pounds and you feel this. The only place the M240i lacks is with front suspension and tire width. This was felt big time when I did a 2-day HPDE with the BMW CCA. It's also the reason I was seriously hoping I would like the M2 Competition enough to buy one as I REALLY do not want to spend $5-6 grand on wheels and coilover upgrades for my car when the M2C already has these perks with wide body sheet metal as icing on the cake. However, the DCT was also a big factor for justifying the upgrade cost as I wanted less to worry about on the track i.e. shifting my own gears was far more challenging than it was worth in terms of lap times with my 6-speed. Now, though, after driving the DCT, I feel it is too compromised and I appreciate my manual transmission that much more. So the decision becomes, "Do I spend $20 grand more for a 6-speed M2C for the suspension and wide body when I really don't like the engine characteristics and added weight?" For now, I'm leaning towards "No."
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      07-23-2019, 08:42 AM   #16
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i'm scheduled for an M2C drive on the M-Town visit to the DC area in a couple of weeks. thanks for the info on the shift settings...will definitely check it out. i really want to consider an M2 for my next car...but not sure how realistic an M car is for me as a daily driver.

the only M car i've ever driven is a friend's F80 M3; it was an absolute beast, but i dont think i could live with the track-focused set-up on a daily basis. my friend daily drove it for about 10 months and sold it -- it was his dream car but finally had to admit that spending 3 hours per day commuting around DC was just not a pleasant experience.

edit: related to M2C DCT vs manual: https://carbuzz.com/news/bmw-m2-comp...ought-possible
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Last edited by happyjack; 07-23-2019 at 08:55 AM..
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      07-23-2019, 09:47 AM   #17
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I went to the same event when they came to Asheville NC and drove the same cars. My choice would have been 6MT for the M2C as well, but I was more interested in trying out the M5 at the same time as any M2C.

While I like the M5 (what a perfect DD that would be), I found it to be too big and too fast to be "useable". When I hoped in the LBB M2C, it felt just right although it might be a little too rough as a DD. I'm getting old.

I walked away thinking the M2C is still my choice for a new BMW as it's got all the right traits.
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      07-23-2019, 10:11 AM   #18
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In regards to the comments about the M2C being too stiff and harsh for a DD, I found this NOT to be the case for me. Despite the other negative feedback I've provided, the ride quality was actually a big positive in my book. It was far from squishy and plush, but the suspension was very compliant on rougher patches of pavement, when going over parking lot entry/exit curbs, etc. In fact, it wasn't far off from the M5 Competition, other than the shorter wheelbase, obviously, which magnifies any tilting or undulations in the road. The M2C still felt very solid and refined not unlike what my M240i feels like. Far from the "rattle your teeth" out description that others have claimed. Long story short, I could live with the ride quality for a DD... just my 2 cents.
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      07-29-2019, 03:53 PM   #19
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I did this in a dealer outside of Philly this weekend. I didn't get to drive the M5--heck, I didn't even see it. I drove the M340, M2c, and X3M. Perhaps not the sportiest lineup, but there's a value to it that may not be obvious by just looking at the cars. Two different generation S-series motors and the best standard I6t the brand offers currently. And I got to compare the new ZF-based transmission with the older DCT.

I can go on and on, but I'll keep this brief. First off, the guys working my event showed me where all the performance setting were. All the cars were set in sport or sport+, which the automatic always in the sharpest setting. I used the paddles exclusively for the drives. Ok, the most fun overall was the m2c. I loved it---it had a great balance of modern turbo power and torque in a small body. I really liked the setting of the standard suspension. Best all-rounder: M340. What a wonderful vehicle. I would never buy one because it's auto only, but if you can get past this and aren't a track rat, this might be the best street-performance car BMW offers. Love the engine and love the firm but not punishing ride. Really nice job BMW!

Biggest disappointment? The S58 in the x3M. I just couldn't get past the lack of any low-end grunt. I felt nothing under 3k rpms and after that point, the car started to get exciting quickly, but inevitably, I would have to stop accelerating before I could experience the full in-gear acceleration. Really not great for a street driven car, but I'm sure it's ridiculous on the track. At least with the S65 in my car, the gearing is low enough where I can wind out a couple of gears and not be well over the speed limit. The S55 in the M2C felt a lot nicer. I really wonder what the M3/4 will be like.
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      07-29-2019, 09:19 PM   #20
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Good feedback, New2Roundel.

What I found most interesting from your experience was the S58 performance. It seems they took what I didn't like about the S55 and made it even worse. Lol... what the...?

I saw the technical data on this new engine in one of the recent news threads, and noticed the delayed torque graph in comparison to the S55 torque graph. I thought to myself, "Why would they do this with the brand new S engine?" I was curious how it would translate to the real world, but based on your feedback it seems as bad as it appeared on paper. I get that M cars are "track cars for the road," but engineering them to only perform properly in the higher rev ranges on the track and leaving nothing for real world street performance seems like a failure to meet the end-goal. I just don't get BMW's desire to use an overly-complicated and heavy twin-turbo setup for their motorsport-inspired offerings, providing mega lag in the name of high peak output, while we have Porsche on the other hand who gives us a masterpiece of a 4.0 NA engine in their GT cars that can provide both snappy torque and throttle response across the entire rev range, while still providing a high peak output and much higher redline.

I will have to try the S58 for myself before passing final judgement, but it sounds like they need to go back to the drawing board on their bread and butter 6-cylinder S engines. Never mind the horrible noises they make!
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      07-30-2019, 12:24 AM   #21
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The decrease in compression ratio plus bigger turbos for the bigger power figures will have done this.
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      07-30-2019, 10:53 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CP911 View Post
GI thought to myself, "Why would they do this with the brand new S engine?" I was curious how it would translate to the real world, but based on your feedback it seems as bad as it appeared on paper. I get that M cars are "track cars for the road," but engineering them to only perform properly in the higher rev ranges on the track and leaving nothing for real world street performance seems like a failure to meet the end-goal. I just don't get BMW's desire to use an overly-complicated and heavy twin-turbo setup for their motorsport-inspired offerings, providing mega lag in the name of high peak output, while we have Porsche on the other hand who gives us a masterpiece of a 4.0 NA engine in their GT cars that can provide both snappy torque and throttle response across the entire rev range, while still providing a high peak output and much higher redline.
Purely speculation on my part, but I think BMW is taking a more aggressive approach with the S58 because the M340 is that good. I think it was a move to give the car a more motorsports/performance character. It's a turbo version of the S65. No doubt the car will be a monster above 3k rpms, but it's really for those interested in high performance driving.
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