The straight six’s wonderfully even supply of torque, its excellent response and outright range, and its tuneful, rasping audible character make it a big draw in itself. £65k certainly isn’t over the top for it, not by today’s standards.
But in order to really drink in all that engine offers, to tap synaptically into the chassis’s indulgently balanced throttle-on handling, and to have the most meaningful relationship you can with its driven rear axle, the M2’s manual gearbox is a transformative factor. You’ve simply got to have it – for the way it draws you into the driving experience both physically and mentally, if not for the M2’s slightly springy shift quality and very marginally squeezed-feeling three-pedal footwell layout.
With the manual, the M2’s driving experience is fully absorbing. It gets your brain going in thinking your way down the road ahead, where an auto might invite you to switch off. Having picked the gear for the bend you’re approaching in advance yourself, you’re also given supreme confidence over how much torque is going to hit that outside rear wheel – and precisely when. Because that’s precisely what a manual driveline that you’re fully in control of yourself does.
The M2’s manual gearbox costs £454 on its own, but because it nudges the car’s CO2 emissions up slightly, you get clobbered for nearly £700 of extra first-year UK VED showroom tax. Even so, I absolutely would.