If you have a BMW 1M, I feel bad for you son. Well no, not really. But that car’s successor, the F87 BMW M2, was such an improvement, and perhaps BMW’s last real two-door old-school coupe. It’s nimble and fast, yet maintains most of the comforts that are a hallmark of BMW M cars. There were many changes to the car over its lifespan, and this buyer’s guide will help you sort what may just be BMW’s last great modern small car.
Understanding the BMW F87 M2 Coupe
As always, we begin with POGs, or product ordering guides. The F87 is no longer produced, having ended production in 2021, and the new G87 M2 is set to take its place in 2023.
The M2 can be had in base form in pre-LCI years:
In 2021, BMW also produced the M2 CS for one year, a special edition that features unique touches to make it stand out from the pack.
What’s the difference between a regular M2 and an M2 Competition?
This question is tied to the model’s LCI. Pre-LCI M2s were only available as…well, an M2. They had an N55 engine, seats out of a BMW 335i, and were generally less hard core.
The post-LCI M2 is only available as a Competition model. This M2 has the S55 engine (405 horsepower vs 369), a stiffer front suspension from the F8X M3 and M4, and its steering, stability-control system, and rear differential have been revised. Bigger brakes and new 19-inch wheels round out the exterior. Inside, the car has a revised dashboard and seats from the M3. The 2019 Competition model has an increased base price of over $4,000 from the 2018 car.
Both cars had the choice of a six-speed manual, or seven-speed DCT, again taken from the F8X.
What’s the difference for an LCI F87 M2?
The refreshed M2 debuted in 2019. Aside from the above noted performance enhancements, the LCI M2 received:
- A wider kidney grille
- Larger air intakes for the front bumper
- Double-wing M mirrors fro the M3
- New color options
- Red start button
- M Drive Mode ability added (M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel).
- Upgraded interior trim
- New headlight design
The 2018 model did receive a new LED taillight design, which was carried over.
The N55 vs the S55 in the M2
BMW M denotes their special engines with an “S” prefix, and the original M2 did not come with one. The N55 made 365 hp and 369 lb-ft, making it the most powerful non-S six-cylinder engine at the time. It also had fortified internals from the S55, so this really wasn’t a simple case of “moar boost!” from a normal N55 in a 335i.
Some say the N55 sounds better as well, and that’s probably true depending on your automotive taste.
The S55 needs no introduction. It produced more power than the N55, but was still detuned from the M3 and M5 (405 vs 444). That’s still an extra 40 horses and 37 lb-ft of torque versus the N55-powered M2.
The N55 in the M2 is one of the better examples of the engine, and is perhaps a bit more reliable than the more robustly designed S55. The S has a set of problems that can be expensive to fix, especially the crank hub. Make sure preventative maintenance was done.
What’s an F87 M2 CS?
With the success of the F8X CS cars, BMW decided to give the F generation M2 one last hurrah in the form of the CS. It had some special equipment, including:
- The S55 engine from the M3, with 444 horses (40 more than the M2 Competition)
- Optional matte-gold wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 track tires
- An Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel
- A carbon fiber roof with a unique weave from other M products
- Adaptive dampers, not available on previous M2s
- Optional carbon ceramic brakes
- An 83-lb weight reduction of an M2 Comp
- Additional Alcantara in the cabin dashboard and on the seat insets
- A unique carbon fiber hood with vent
- A higher base price of $84,595
- Exclusive Misano Blue paint option
- Deletion of the armrest inside, replaced with Alcantara trim
That higher base price (without some key options like gold wheels and CCBs) might give you pause, but as of now, an M2 CS is a solid investment. Nice examples are fetching over $100,000, meaning that at the very least, you won’t lose money on one. Bring a Trailer tells the same story, with one example well over $110k.
Only you can know if the price if worth it, but if you’re looking for my expert opinion, the M2 CS isn’t as special as an M5 CS, and you’d be better off in an M2 Competition for considerably less investment.
BMW M Performance Parts for the F87 M2
BMW has an extensive catalog for the M2, perhaps more than any other car. Of particular note are carbon fiber fenders, hood, and trunk lid for considerable weight reduction. They come unpainted.
Though BMW never confirmed the reason, the M2 was not eligible for the Individual program (likely due to factory limitations where the M2 was built).
An internet search will reveal a few one-off M2 CS colors, but you had to be Chris Harris or a BMW favorite customer (really favorite) to obtain one.
That left the regular (and very limited) color palette. Alpine White was standard, while the Metallic colors added $500. The LCI received two new colors in Sunset Orange Metallic and Hockenheim Silver Metallic.
M2 Color Gallery
Where to find one, and the importance of doing a PPI
The F87 M2 was produced from 2016 through 2021. The new G87 M2 is slated to replace it, with a release date of April 2023.
Consider starting your search at the BMW dealer. Many F87s are still coming off lease, and you want to try and find the best example possible, maybe even still in warranty. Beyond that, look to Cars & Bids and Bring a Trailer. BMWs pop up all the time on those sites, and are almost always in good shape.
Regardless of where you find one, a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is critical. I will not sit here and write that BMW M cars are driven by angels, used solely for picking up baby from day care or taken out only on date night with your boo. I’ve been around hundreds of them, and while 90% are not abused, they are all driven hard.
Personally, I’d stay away from any modded car, especially one that’s tuned. You can do that yourself, and who knows just how much “’bout dat boost life” the previous owner was.
What’s a good price for a BMW F87 M2?
For used examples, I always recommend looking on BaT, which shows price history for the model: Bring a Trailer F87 M2 Search.
A low of $40k for a pre-LCI example, with most fetching well over that, means you should look to newer examples if at all possible. Expect the F87 to come down as it ages, especially when a new M2 is released.
Moving on to Cars & Bids show something a bit different: Cars & Bids M2 search.
Some examples here are older, with more mileage, so a low of $30,000 with 87k miles seems more reasonable. But I’m not sure I’d take an F87 with that much wear on it, no matter how reliable they are. And yet…
Common problems with the F87 M2
The M2 actually wasn’t terrible to rely on. First, there’s just one recall for the entire generation:
- R/2020/352, from 7/12/2020 – Some injectors may be missing damping elements, which could impact fuel lines and cause leaks
Not a bad way to start. With the N55, it’s typical of the engine to burn oil. The one in my 335i leaked from just about every seal and gasket known to mankind. Look over the engine with great care. In particular, watch for:
- VANOS solenoid failure
- Leaking oil filter housing gasket
- Water pump failure
- Boost and charge pipe detaching/breaking from the throttle
- Valve cover oil leak
Sometimes the blinker doesn’t work on M2s with LED tail lights (insert bad BMW joke here), and sometimes the horn stops working (again, jokes welcome). Finally, the DCT can act up with shaking, shuddering or slipping. You can solve this by opting for the correct transmission (the six-speed manual).
On the S55, it’s the aforementioned crank hub that especially likes to rear its head on cars that have been tuned for more power and boost.
Finally, the CS model’s unique carbon fiber roof can look odd upon close inspection. BMW’s first foray into producing carbon in-house, the weave looks nothing like previous M products. I wouldn’t call it a defect – it is what it is, but some examples are worse than others.
Overall, the M2 has no surprises, suffering from the same setbacks all turbo BMWs of this era have. Do your homework, and the car will provide many trouble-free miles.
Should I buy an F87 M2?
People seem to point to the M2 as BMW’s lone remnant of a bygone era, and perhaps that’s true. But you were never really roughing it in this car – it had all the comfort features you’d expect of a BMW M car. It might have been the slowest and most raucous, but it does have soul.
If I were in the market for one, I’d only consider an S55-equipped model. The LCI looked much better, was faster, and brought the level of refinement up to what you’d expect at this price point. You’d get 90% of an M3 for 70% of the price – a good deal.
I expect the new G87 to be a leap ahead in capability and refinement as other G cars have been, but that means you’ll lose some of what made this M2 special. Grab one, and revel in the fact that you might just own BMW’s last true 2002-inspired coupe.
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