When is two closer to three than four? It sounds like a bit of a riddle doesn’t it? Well, the follow up version of that question is, when is two closer to three than three? Give up? When it’s a BMW. Let us explain …

For decades BMW used M badge as a sign of the ultimate, Ultimate Driving Machine, and more specifically, the M3 was the crown jewel of the Bavarian treasure room. And over the years we’ve seen a few M3’s, specifically the E46 and then E90/92 that simply took our collective breath away. The E46 was a purists dream — an inline naturally aspirated six cylinder engine that revved to 6,500 rpm and made 333 glorious horsepower. The E90 M3 took everything good about the E46 and gave it performance enhancing drugs. The extra muscle translated into a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8 that made 414 horsepower and climbed to an orgasmic 8,000 rpm in what sounded like the love child of an Italian exotic motor and a small block American V8. If you haven’t taken the time to listen to it, make time, you won’t regret it.

But for reasons beyond our understanding, BMW decided in 2014 to change its legendary machine and designate odd numbers for sedans and even numbers for coupes. So the 2014 and up M3 could only have four doors. If you wanted a two-door you were now driving and M4 or an M2. Also gone was BMW’s adherence to keeping a naturally aspirated motor in its purest driving machine. The M4 is a stellar package in its own right, but the 2019 BMW M2 Competition might just be the closest thing to those legendary machines we’ve seen yet.

Let’s start with the motor. A twin-turbocharged DOHC 3.0-liter inline-6 that redlines at 7,500 rpm and makes a silly 405-horsepower at 5,230 rpm and almost equally 406 lb-ft of torque at a stupidly low 2,350 rpm. That power gets routed through your choice of a slick shifting 7-speed twin-clutch auto or a tried and true six-speed manual, and while the auto can out shift just about any human on earth, we highly suggest the manual for the connection you get to this car. And that power gets sent to the rear wheels, and only the rear wheels.

Moving a substantial but not obese 3,613 pounds, the M2’s 53/47% front/rear weight distribution feels closer to 50/50 around the track. It does feel a bit taller than a Cayman for example, but the cockpit makes up for it by feeling like it was vacuum sealed around you, although not in a claustrophobic late-model Camaro kind of way.

The M2 Competition lives up to its name, with a non-adjustable suspension that is purpose built for performance. This little pocket rocket blasts off from 0-60 mph in just 4.0 seconds flat, 0-100 mph in 9.5 seconds and blazes through the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at a blistering 114.7 mph. Huge 15.7-inch front and 15.0-inch cross-drilled and vented front and rear brakes clamp down all that speed and haul the M2 back down from 60-0 mph in just 106 feet. And around the skidpad, that race ready suspension works in perfect harmony with the 245/35R19 front and 265/35R19 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires to help this track star post a silly 1.01 g.

This BMW will smoke the tires if you want it to, but won’t actually burn a hole in your wallet getting gas. Sure, it’s no Prius with a 17/23/19 city/highway/combined mpg, but then again, let’s see a Prius run a low-12 quarter mile. The M2 does have some day to day usability despite its jarring ride. There are four useable seats and 13.8 cubic feet of cargo room. With a base price of just about 60 grand, the M2 Competition is the most affordable of the M cars. But what it offers is more than just value. The M2 Competition is a purist’s car. While the M4 is ultimately the faster ride, the M2 is the unofficial heir of the to the M throne. It feels like an evolution of the E46 and E90 M cars in a way the M4 just doesn’t. And that is how two can be closer to three than four.