Road Test – 2019 BMW M2 Competition Coupe:BMW’s M2 Competition is a pocket rocket

Like the first M3, this is a small car, classified as a sub-compact, in fact.

But unlike the standard 2 Series, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder is yanked out and replaced by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder pumping out 405 hp and 406 lb/ft of torque, a big bump up from the 248 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque of the 2.0-litre.

Rear-drive only, power is through a standard six-speed manual or optional ($3,900) seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

The M2 Competition was one of a raft of BMW Group vehicles available to drive at the brand’s second annual “Test Fest” in Thermal, CA, where it holds its performance driving school.

Parked next to a gargantuan Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV, the M2 looked positively petite, painted in a non-metallic white with wheel well filling 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin performance tires with such a small profile, they looked like rubber bands.

At startup, there was no drama – that was until I let in the clutch and hit the accelerator.

With the traction and stability controls working overtime, the little M2 shot out of the BMW compound onto the street where I knew the California Highway Patrol was lurking.

On the way south towards the Salton Sea, it was such fun to drop a few gears and pull around to pass, which was like a surgical manoeuvre.

Part of this is due to the Active M Differential putting the grip down where it was most needed.

I could feel all the potential under the hood for someone with a cool head and steady hand to unleash, but a patrolled highway was not the place.

My tester had the dual clutch transmission, which I put in manual shift mode throughout to extract as much performance as possible using the paddle shifters.

I don’t use paddles that much, but the M2 Competition almost demanded it.

When it came to stopping, the no-charge compound and ventilated M Sports Brakes were impressive and were easily modulated by the foot aided by downshift engine blipping, which added that extra aural touch.

The M tuned exhaust system with quad pipes did emit a nice note but, being a coupe, I couldn’t hear much.

Pausing for photos, I did a little walkaround and noticed the host of little things done to improve performance, such as the much-enlarged lower front ducts to feed air to each of the turbos or the outside mirrors with a scooped out inside housing to lessen drag.

On the inside the expected BMW luxury came to the fore with just about everything you’d want included, and none of what you don’t really need.

Examples were the leather M Sports seats with blue stitching, carbon fibre interior trim, Harmon Kardon premium sound system, 8.8-inch centre infotainment display and a lot more, but you get the picture.

And despite all the creature comforts, the M2 Competition Coupe is perhaps the BMW that comes closest to possessing the spirit of the Ultimate Driving Machine.