Now that we’ve seen the review for the M2, my inbox has been flooded with questions about the differences between the two cars, which car I’d really pick, what the future holds, and so on. This article isn’t really a comparison of the M2 vs M3, but one that explains a few key differences. Think of it as a buyer’s guide for M nerds.
Everything here also applies to the M4. Full reviews of both cars are here, along with the 2022 M3 buyer’s guide:
How to spec your BMW M2 vs M3
We’ll start in the showroom, where you’ll notice that the 2024 M2 starts as $63,200, and the M3 starts at $76,000. For you’re $12,800, the M3 gives you:
- 20 more horsepower in the base M3
- Standard carbon fiber roof (the M2 requires $2,600)
- 18-inch wheels (The M2 gets 19/20-inch combination as standard). To upgrade the M3’s wheels costs $1,300.
- Both cars have the same front seat shells, and both can get carbon fiber buckets as an upgrade. The M3 charges $4,500 as a stand alone option, but the M2 requires the Carbon Package, with the roof, carbon interior trim, and M Driver’s Package bundled for $9,900.
- The M2 has an automatic LED headlight upgrade that changes the DRL shape, with lasers available only on the M3. The LCI will delete the laser option, with 2024 being the last year before this change.
- There is no carbon ceramic brake option on the M2. The M3 charges $8,500.
- Black-painted calipers are not an option on the M2.
- There is no front-ventilated seating option on the M2.
- The M3 Competition receives 30 more horsepower, and 74 additional lb-ft of torque. As of this writing, there is no M2 Competition. Both the stick and automatic receive the same S58 tune.
Exterior color options for the M2 vs the M3
The M2 has always been lacking in exterior color choices and interior finishes, but for 2024 a few options are added. Standard metallic colors are a $650 option, with Alpine White and Zandvoort Blue available as no-cost options.
Starting in November of 2023, the M2 can be painted Frozen Portimao Blue Metallic or Frozen Pure Grey Metallic for $2,350. Otherwise, you are limited to five color choices. The Individual program is not available for the M2.
On the M3, there are many more colors, and frozen paint is a $3,600 option. In my personal experience, BMW has become more lax with approving random colors, so if you’d like an M3 in Barney Purple or Cookie Monster Blue, ask and it might get the green light. Individual color options are usually $5,000, but can be more at BMW’s discretion.
Interior color options for the M2 vs the M3
The M2 has Vernasca Leather as its sole interior finish, and it’s a tougher leather than the Merino of the M3. Choose from black with blue stitching, black with M color highlights on the side bolsters, or Cognac. Selecting carbon buckets will provide the same three color options. Extended leather is not an option on the M2.
In the M3, Merino is the standard leather. Choosing Extended Leather covers the door panels (upper and lower) and lower dash in the material, but if you’re coming from a 2021 or ’22 model, you’ll notice that the standard leather no longer covers the doors. That makes extended a “must-have” option.
Wheels for the M2 vs the M3
The wheels for both cars look similar, but with one important distinction.
- The M2 gets 19/20-inch 930M style wheels as standard in either Jet Black or “bi-color” – that means black with a polished face. But some of the spokes remain black.
- The M3 has optional 19/20-inch 825M bi-color wheels and the full face is polished. You can also get them in Orbit grey.
- 825M wheels are not available on the M2 (for now).
Avoid the base 18-inch wheels – rocks tend to get stuck between them and the brake calipers, causing scratches. $1,300 for the upgrade is a steal.
Mechanical differences for the M2 vs the M3
Aside from the obvious part differences, there are a few important things to consider:
- The M2 has the S58 “O”, the M3 gets the S58 “T” – they are identical aside from a tune on the M2 to reduce power by 20 horses.
- The M2 has an AGM battery, or Absorbed Glass Mat, while the M3 gets an Li-ion. The Li-ion is lighter, and in general will last longer. Rather than go through the hassle of swapping a stock one into an M2, go for an Antigravity battery – that will fit without issue.
- Exhausts for these cars will be different, due to the M2’s wheelbase being 4 inches shorter.
- The M2 and M3 share track widths front and rear, and curb weight.
- The manual transmission is identical in all three cars – and this trio will be the last to feature them in a BMW.
M Performance Parts for the M2 and M3
- Some upgrades, such as the M Performance Suspension, receive the same part numbers.
- The cars share exhaust designs
- The interior armrest, seat backs and steering wheels carry over
- M Performance wheel options will fit both cars
- The M2 gets its own set of unique carbon fiber exterior body components.
If you’d like M Performance Parts for your car, order them from Baum BMW parts in Germany. The savings from ordering overseas, even after import taxes, can sometimes be half off.
The reliability of the M2 and M3
The M2 is still too new to have major concerns, but the M3 has been out for over two years, and there are no major issues to report. I’ve had no issues with mine, nor has anyone I’ve come in contact with, save for a clutch rattle that sometimes plagues every generation of M3.
The LCI for the M2 vs the M3
Upcoming information on the M2 is limited as it’s new, but expect a CS/CSL version of the car, as well as a Competition version with all-wheel drive.
The M3 and M4 are due to be updated for MY 2025 with an LCI featuring new headlights (minus the laser option), new taillights on the M4, and what will amount to minor changes inside. There will also be a power increase for Competition models, perhaps up to 525 horsepower.
Will there be an M2 Competition, or M2 CS?
The M3 Competition is automatic only, with 503 horsepower, and an available M xDrive version.
For 2025, the M2 will receive a power bump to 474. BMW has yet to decide on adding all-wheel drive to the M2’s chassis, but if it does happen, it will likely be around 2026.
In 2025, BMW will release the M2 CS. Rumors include a power bump to over 500 horses, an automatic-only powertrain, and a limited (but classic) color palette.
Should you buy an M2 or an M3?
If you’re looking for the the most fun version of the M2/M3/M4 bunch, it’s the M2. You’ll find a more responsive chassis and an engine that doesn’t feel any less powerful than the base M3.
If you need practicality, the M2 is able to make it as a daily driver, but a sedan will always be an easier car to live with. As for the M4, get it because of your personal taste, but aside from some cabin fit and finish, it’s no better than the M2, simply different.
Regardless of the nameplate on the back, this trio is shaping up to be the last true M cars with internal combustion engines. They are some of M’s best, most reliable cars to date, so if you’re on the fence, consider this a friendly push.
You’ll be smiling in no time.
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