Since the Sixties, BMW’s small coupes have been the brand’s most well-rounded, best-driving, most fun cars. The first one, the 1600-2, was based on a shortened version of BMW’s Neue Klasse sedan chassis. The 1600 was fantastic to drive, if slow. It looked great and introduced the Bavarian company to a whole new market. Then a couple things happened: Two BMW engineers discovered they’d each swapped a bigger 2.0-liter engine into their own 1600-2s, and famed U.S. importer Max Hoffman began clamoring for a sportier offering. The palindromic 2002 was born. It was an instant hit that wrote the recipe for BMW’s small, sporty cars: forget crazy grip or ridiculous power, just make the driver happy. Copycats sprang up in Germany and abroad.
Many of those competitors missed the point, adding power, weight, or features that the 2002—and later, the 3-series—didn’t have or need. At some point, BMW decided those competitors were right. The 3’s mission changed; it got bigger, more powerful, and more isolated. The 2002’s modern analog is no longer the 3-series. It’s the 2-series. Successor to the 1-series, the 2 is currently the smallest gas-powered car BMW sells in America. And the M2 CS is the most delightful of them all. For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.