MONTEREY, CA. – There’s only one real option available for the new M2: the gearbox. Do you want the six-speed manual for $61,000, or will you spend an extra $3,900 for the seven-speed automatic double-clutch transmission?

It’s a tough choice. The stick-shift is a lovely set-up, not too short but very precise, snicking through the double-H like a mouse in a maze that knows exactly where to find the reward. Save the manuals!

Except the DCT is easier and just that little bit quicker. Zero-to-100 km/h takes a claimed 4.3 seconds on a good day with the DCT, but 4.5 seconds with the stick. If you’re going to take your M2 to the track, the automatic will be a little swifter and more forgiving as you blip up and down with the paddle shifters. Any fool can do it.

And there’s really no other reason to own an M2 than to go to the track, unless you’re a pretentious snob who just wants to be seen with the best there is, whether you know how to use it or not. “All mouth and trousers,” as the Brits say. It’s a crime to own an M2 and not track it, but you’ll be slower with the satisfying, old-school stick. Tough choice.

That’s it, though. Literally everything else comes as standard, except the optional metallic paint ($850) and “convenience telephony” for connecting more than one smartphone to the audio system ($600). All the carbon-fibre trim on the armrests and dash is stock. The blue contrast stitching, the M-embossed leather, the 19-inch five-spoke wheels – all standard.

You want a sunroof? Forget it – that would add too much weight and affect the structural rigidity. All-wheel drive? A convertible? No way! (Save the Rear Wheel Drives!) Those are compromises and this is supposed to be something pure, something to worship on the sports car altar.

“It’s something like a motorcycle with four wheels,” says Dirk Hacker, BMW’s vice-president of engineering for the M division. “You use it on weekends if you have some spare time, if you want to have fun. You can also do this with the M3 or M4, but I think the M2 is more focused on this kind of driving – to use it for a track day or something like that.

“The M3 or M4 is more sophisticated with a wider possibility of use. The M2 is a pure, focused car.”

There are plenty of M3 and M4 parts on the M2, including the suspension, front axle, whole rear axle, the differential and rear gearbox, and the complete brake system. It’s all been massaged onto a modified 2 Series chassis with a wheelbase that’s 120 mm shorter than its siblings.

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