Love it or loathe it for how it looks, the BMW M2 marks the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine. The second-generation model (codenamed G87) is the final M car to avoid electrification. Yes, the 3.0 CSL is coming next month, but that will be limited to 50 copies at a rumoured price tag of €750,000. From 2023, each and every new fully fledged M car will have a hybrid powertrain to echo the wild-looking XM.

Where does that leave a potential third-generation M2? Well, BMW M has already ruled out performance cars with three- or four-cylinder engines. Keeping the inline-six past 2030 and adding electrification seems unlikely considering a potential ban on sales of new ICE cars in the European Union in 2035. Aside from having to meet stricter regulations, the M division is also concerned a smaller engine would not be worthy of an M2 once the battery pack is drained.

BMW M CEO Frank van Meel told CarBuzz that a plug-in hybrid model with a downsized engine is challenging because the ICE must be potent enough to compensate for the lack of a hybrid boost when the battery runs out of juice: "A plug-in hybrid in a small car might be a difficult issue because plug-in hybrids need to have sufficient power, even if the electric part is not available. If your base engine is not strong enough, then a plug-in hybrid makes no sense."

Mercedes-AMG would beg to differ as the new C63 uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre mill that makes a whopping 469 bhp and 402 pound-feet (545 Newton-metres) of torque on its own. Having ruled out anything with fewer than six cylinders, BMW M won't go down that road of installing an insanely potent four-pot, let alone a three-banger.

Of course, we are talking about a distant future. The new M2 was revealed last week and is expected to remain on sale until near the end of the decade. A direct successor seems more likely to go the EV route, but it's too early to know for sure. In the meantime, the baby M sticks to tradition by offering a six-cylinder engine, three pedals, and two rear-driven wheels.  We'll have to wait and see whether those rumours about an M2 xDrive will come to fruition.