2 of a different kind from the BMW stable

The BMW M2 is an amazing hot-hatch
The BMW M2 is an amazing hot-hatch

BMW M2 and BMW i3 94 Ah REX

It’s hard to believe that the two cars I test drove over the last fortnight share the same badge and are built under the same roof – talk about from one extreme to the other.

The term ‘polar opposites’, is the only phrase I can think of to describe the gap between these two models.

It made me realise that although BMW has one ‘i’ on the future with the electric side of the company, it still has the other eye on the ‘blast’ – celebrating its deep roots in motor racing thanks to its M Sport division.

First out of the starting blocks is the new BMW M2 hot hatch. Again, BMW is continuing on the numbers game in giving the coupé cars the even numbers, while the saloons get the odd ones.

The new M2 continues on from where the 1-Series M coupé left off. After the success of its 235i, BMW decided it was time to make a proper M version of its new 2-Series coupé and it has now produced one of the best all-round performance cars to drive, with the power to match.

On the outside, the M2 has a stunning muscular stance. The rear end sticks out like Kim Kardashian’s backside and the chunky 19-inch alloy wheels look amazing under the wide wheel arches.

Elsewhere, there are air slits on both front wings, which BMW refer to as ‘Air Curtains’ to circulate air around the front wheels.

On the inside, the cockpit is pretty much standard BMW fare, albeit with some M-design logos and proper M gear selector. 

But it’s under the bonnet where the BMW technicians have worked their magic, by installing a single turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder unit that produces 370bhp at 6,500rpm and 465Nm of torque between 1,400 and 5,560rpm.

My test car for the week was fitted with the seven-speed M DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which comes with paddles on the steering wheel for added fun, and it is truly amazing. 

However, I would have liked to try the six-speed manual gearbox, as I feel in a car like this you can really push it to the limit and have that extra bit of fun.

But be warned, there is a €450 difference in annual road tax between the two, with the manual costing the heftier price due to its higher CO2 emissions.

On the road, the M2 is just sublime. I took it on both motorways and over the Wicklow Mountains and it’s just superb.

You can have so much fun on the twisty roads – especially in Sport or Sport+ mode with everything stripped down.

The power to the rear wheels is actually frightening and not for the faint-hearted. At times, I could see the rear end coming over my shoulder when you put the pedal to the metal on corners.

However, the new M2 comes with a hefty price tag. At just €20k cheaper than the M3/M4 – this pocket rocket will set you back more than €73k.

With my added extras, the price was pushed north of €80k, which is extremely pricey for a hot hatch.

I preferred it to the bigger models as it is so much more fun to drive, but I can’t see many of them being sold in Ireland at that price.

BMW i3 94Ah REX

At the other end of the BMW spectrum in the electric division sits the updated i3.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the international launch of this car in Amsterdam a couple of years ago and, I have to admit, I fell in love with it straight away.

The exterior may not be to everyone’s taste, but I just love everything about it.

I have written numerous times before about electric cars and how they give me range anxiety.

However, BMW has addressed this problem with the mid-life update of its new i3.

My test car for the week was the i3 94Ah REX (Range Extender) version. 

The Range Extender means that it comes with a small 650cc twin petrol motor that will give you an extra 100km or so in addition to the 200km electric range.

The BMW i3 94Ah replaces the current 60Ah model and has a capacity of 33kWh thanks to the higher storage density of the lithium ion cells. 

The battery dimensions remain unchanged, with more than a 50 per cent range increase in the standard cycle. This equals a range of 314km in everyday driving.

However, like most of the ranges the car companies quote, these figures are not normally achievable under normal driving conditions.

I will admit that the i3 is up there alongside the Nissan Leaf in terms of accuracy and I found it very close to the actual claimed figures.

As someone who has a daily 26km round trip, I should be able to commute to work each week on a single charge. 

I did, in fact, manage that on my week-long test drive, but I did use a lot more than the 130km of electric power that it should have taken me.

Once you start putting on the heating and heated seats, you will find that the range quickly starts adding up.

On the road, the i3 goes from 0-100 in 7.3 seconds with 170bhp and 250 Nms of torque, which is pretty amazing for an electric car.

It just feels so fast when you put you foot down at the lights and can put some petrol cars to shame.

Prices for the new BMW i3 94Ah start at €36,300 for the pure electric model, which comes with a claimed range of 314km.

The Range Extender model, which has a claimed 444km range, starts at €43,330.

Yes, these prices are a little on the high side in comparison to some of the other more affordable models, but I still think the BMW i3 is one of the best on the market.

Both of these are the on-the – road prices, which includes SEAI Grant of €5,000 & VRT relief of €5,000.

Model: BMW M2 Coupe
Price: From €77,520 (€83,451 test car)

Road Tax: €750 per year
0-100kph: 4.3 sec
Max Speed: 250kph
Fuel Economy: 7.9l/100km (claimed)
Boot Space: 390 litres

Model: BMW i3 94Ah REX
Price: From €36,300 (€51,710 test model) 
Road Tax: €120 per year
0-100kph: 7.3 sec
Max Speed: 150kph
Electricity consumption: 12.6kWh/100km battery usage (claimed)
Boot Space: 260-1,100 litres