BMW has so perverted the sanctity of the letter M in its model names and option packages that a brief nomenclature lesson may be appropriate here.

Let’s start at the bottom. An M followed smartly by the word “Sport” is BMW code for interior- or exterior-trim changes, chassis upgrades, and engine tweaks offered as optional equipment. The M Perform­ance label has a double meaning. It can stand for various aero, drivetrain, chassis, and cockpit parts and accessories available through official BMW ­channels. Confusingly, M Perform­ance is also a BMW category for cars with sporting credentials, such as the new M235i previewed here.

Cars designated with an M followed by a single digit are the chosen ones. They’re born and bred under the auspices of BMW M GmbH, the in-house motorsports division responsible for spanking enemies at the track. Resourceful M-division engineers can swiftly apply to their road cars the structural gains, suspension improvements, aero refinements, and power secrets learned from racing.

So why is an M2 coming when BMW stores are already stocked with half a dozen M models? Because a wheelbase that is
4.8 inches shorter than the M3/M4’s will trim weight and improve agility. Because the $60,000-plus M4 is beyond the reach of the young customers BMW needs to restock its fan base. As a warm-up, the M folks recently introduced an $80,000 M235i coupe for endurance racing.

When it arrives in a couple of years, the M2 will surely be powered by BMW’s potent S55 3.0-liter six. Armed with twin turbos blowing through a Valve­tronic variable-intake-valve-lift system, this engine should deliver more than 400 horsepower and rev to 7600 rpm. Transmission choices will parallel the M3/M4 options—either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Expect a carbon-fiber roof and various structural reinforcements made of the woven black stuff. To hold the M2’s curb weight to 3300 or so pounds, the suspension will be mostly aluminum, the oil sump will be a magnesium casting, and the brake rotors will be made of carbon-ceramic material. Aluminum body panels are a distinct possibility.

The M2’s pounds-per-horsepower quotient will beat both the recently retired V-8–powered M3 and the new M4 coupe. With a base price below $60,000, this track-ready BMW will be your best excuse not to buy a Corvette Stingray Z51 or a Camaro Z/28.

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