The BMW M2 Coupe is the car you've been dreaming of, even if you didn't know it. This thought crosses your mind as you crest a ridge running along the Pacific Coast Highway, with Big Sur's frothing, endless palette of blue waves crashing to your right. You drop the pedal as you zoom uphill, and the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six buried in that long hood roars to life, eagerly eating up road without so much as a slight impedance from the incline.
A Sunday driver in a rented Chevy Malibu? Gone in the rearview mirror. That submarine-length RV slowly chewing up the countryside like a flock of grazing sheep? A distant memory in a matter of seconds. It's not so much the 365-horsepower engine under the hood that keeps your head pinned to the headrest, as the 369 growling foot-pounds of torque accessible at just 1,400 rpms.
The M2 wants to run, and you need to do very little convincing to get it to stretch its legs. You've seen the commercials where BMW declares itself the "Ultimate Driving Machine," but some have taken to complaining that, as the esteemed Bavarian manufacturer's fleet grows more luxurious, it also grows more torpid.
The M2 Coupe takes that notion and obliterates it with just about the finest engineering you're going to find in a $50,000 car ($51,700 to be exact). Some of its bits—like the road-hugging front suspension and inline-six power plant—are plucked from the bigger, heavier M3/M4 twins. That means more power in a smaller package, and that algorithm almost never fails when it comes to pure performance.
This is reinforced when presented with the opportunity to take on the legendary Laguna Seca raceway in Salinas, CA. Turns out the M2 is even more capable on the track than it is gobbling up public roads. This is a car that ate up Germany's notorious Nürburgring raceway in under eight minutes. It hits 60 m.p.h. from a standstill in 4.1 seconds, navigating the most treacherous of corners without missing a beat. Yes, the BMW M2 Coupe is a dream—and one you won't want to end anytime soon.