Written by Jack Rix

Two cars separated by 99bhp, 70,000, eight-tenths from 0 62mph and 40mph at the top end. Not much competition when it comes to image, either: the Vantage is a tailored suit; the BMW, a pair of off-the-peg Levis. Yet draw away from the details and they play much the same role. Both are rapid rear-drive coupes, both aren"t cut out for family life (although the BMW can claim rear seats) and both are just as capable at squashing huge distances as they are vaporising a set of rear tyres. Fortunately, our patented Speed Week scoring system (the car which makes us grin inanely the most, wins) takes price, power and any other numerical comparison out of the equation, levelling the playing field nicely. Unsurprisingly, it"s the Aston that looks, feels and smells infinitely more exotic. So, given this is a track I"ve never driven, and the sadistic proximity of the concrete walls, I head for the BMW first. I admire its perfect proportions and bulging wheelarches like a clenched fist in a white leather glove and say a silent thank you to BMW for not tinkering too much with the standard M2"s design, besides adding proper M car wing mirrors. On paper, the M2 Competition is the car we all wished the M2 had been from the outset: a true, bespoke road racer dry-rubbed with M"s magic dust, rather than an M240i with some extra sauce on the side. As you"ll have learned earlier, it"s largely down to the engine. Out comes the M2"s single-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, in goes a twin-turbo version borrowed from the M4, but turned down to 404bhp and 406lb ft of torque. With 10 per cent more power, but another 55kg to carry around, it"s a subtle enhancement, but makes a world of difference. Prod the throttle, and it prods you back the way it responds is angrier, zingier and a bit more immediate, with a deeper hunger for revs. Keep it pinned and there"s that metallic rasp from the M4 and a lovely linearity to the delivery that makes you forget this is turbocharged at all. A Stanley knife of an engine, then, precise but not particularly threatening

Date written: 8 Nov 2018

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