For more than a year, the worst-kept secret of the BMW performance world has been the pending arrival of a more aggressive M2, but what the community hasn’t known until this week is what shape this new model would take. Pundits hypothesized everything from a mere options package to a wide-body monster evocative of BMW’s CSL and 2002 Hommage concept cars, but the reality is an interesting combination of the two. Instead of an additional model, the new M2 Competition replaces the standard M2, acting as a face-lift—or “life cycle impulse,” in BMW’s verbiage—but with some more dramatic drivetrain changes.

While the front and rear fascias have been updated and made more aggressive—including, notably, BMW’s new conjoined kidney grilles in the front—the car hasn’t been made much wider or less usable; the successful and simple visual character of the M2 remains, but with a host of changes under the skin. Most notable of these is the “new” power plant: a 405-horsepower version of the M-developed S55 engine from the M3 and M4. It’s a more potent, more aurally aggressive engine that’s sure to make the M2 Competition feel more memorable.

But there’s more: The drivetrain technology from the M3 and M4 have also been transplanted into the smaller M2, including the console-mounted chassis controls, a technical feature absent from the previous M2. Seats seem to have been pulled from the M4 as well, offering another aggressive touch for the new car.

The M2 Competition, in all of its rumored guises, has certainly caught the attention of the enthusiast community. In some ways it’s reminiscent of the S54-powered Z3 and M coupes of the early 2000s: a special example of the big-engine-small-car formula that is usable every day—and even more capable every weekend. With many M2 C’s already on pre-order, we would love to see it become a sales success that encourages more support of these cars from BMW and BMW of North America.

Oh, and one more thing: This car, like the original M2, is available not only with the seven-speed DCT, but with a real, honest six-speed manual.—David Rose

[Photos courtesy of BMW.]

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