Up­grade pack­age for the M2 hones the chas­sis and offers more power, but only one of those is worth pay­ing for

Evo - - CONTENTS REGULARS - James Dis­dale

IIT’S AR­GUABLE THAT THE BMW M2 is the best small M-car in a gen­er­a­tion, yet Ger­man tuner AC Schnitzer be­lieves there’s still some room for im­prove­ment. As a re­sult, it has de­vel­oped this, the ACS2 Sport.

The pack­age ef­fec­tively mas­sages the M2’s engine and sus­pen­sion, and looks for what is claimed to be a faster and more in­volv­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Given the stan­dard car sets the bar quite high, it’s fair to say Schnitzer has its work cut out.

The ACS2 gets off to a good start, though, with its tur­bocharged 3-litre straight-six treated to a tick­led ECU that de­liv­ers im­pres­sive head­line fig­ures of 414bhp and 428lb ft – gains of 49bhp and 59lb ft over the M2. The re­vised mo­tor then plays a deeper tune through a quad-exit, AC­mono­grammed sports ex­haust.

For the chas­sis up­grade, Schnitzer has in­stalled ad­justable coilovers, en­abling a ride height drop of 30 to 40mm, plus a set of 20-inch forged al­loy wheels that just about squeeze into the arches. There are fur­ther cos­metic mod­i­fi­ca­tions in the form of a front split­ter and rear dif­fuser, both fin­ished in car­bon­fi­bre.

Do the sums and this lit­tle lot adds up to a not in­con­sid­er­able £18,284 (that’s £3804 for the engine tweaks, £2536 for the ex­haust, £2478 for the sus­pen­sion, £2503 for the car­bon bits and an eye-wa­ter­ing £6963 for the wheels). Of course, you can pick and choose just the bits you want, but is it re­ally worth spend­ing such large wedges of cash on a car that’s al­ready ex­cel­lent?

The first thing you no­tice about the ACS2 is just how well it rides. Look at those vast wheels and you’d ex­pect it to de­liver the sort of wash­board ride that’d leave you with dou­ble vi­sion, yet there’s sup­ple­ness to its damp­ing.

Up the pace and the car re­mains re­mark­ably planted and com­posed. There’s the same meaty steer­ing weight as the reg­u­lar car, but the Schnitzer flows down the road, rather than beat­ing it into sub­mis­sion. Re­ally big un­du­la­tions re­veal the tini­est amount of float, but the move­ment is checked al­most be­fore it has started. The ACS2 feels re­mark­ably friendly as you ap­proach the limit, too, tele­graph­ing its in­ten­tions more clearly and al­low­ing you to push to­wards its var­i­ous thresh­olds with greater con­fi­dence than in the oc­ca­sion­ally spiky M2.

By con­trast, the engine changes are harder to rec­om­mend. On pa­per the gains look fairly im­pres­sive, but on the road they don’t of­fer any real sub­jec­tive gains over the al­ready rapid M2. You have to work harder to ac­cess the ex­tra per­for­mance low down (peak torque ar­rives at 3500rpm, com­pared with 1450rpm as stan­dard), yet max­i­mum power is de­liv­ered at 5800rpm, which is 700rpm lower than in the BMW.

As a re­sult, it’s not as nec­es­sary to ac­cess the straight-six’s snarling top end. The over­all per­for­mance gains are mod­est too, with just two tenths of a sec­ond shaved off the claimed 4.3sec 0-62mph of the reg­u­lar DCTe­quipped M2. And speak­ing of the gear­box, there are no changes to the seven-speed dual-clutch unit, so you get the same slightly lazy shifts in auto mode but much faster changes us­ing the wheel-mounted pad­dles.

The new ex­haust goes some way to­wards off­set­ting the up­graded engine’s dis­guised ex­tra pace. It emits a deep bur­ble at idle and boasts a more bari­tone growl as the revs rise be­yond 4000rpm. How­ever, the down­side is an ir­ri­tat­ing boom at around 70mph – it goes away ei­ther side of this speed, but it has the po­ten­tial to make longer jour­neys tire­some.

Add all the kit to the price of a new DCT M2 and you’ll end up fork­ing out £66,959 – that’s M4 Com­pe­ti­tion Pack­age money, in­clud­ing some choice op­tions, and the ACS2 is hard to rec­om­mend as an al­ter­na­tive to that car. How­ever, if you’ve got a used M2 then mix­ing and match­ing some of these ex­tras – the sus­pen­sion in par­tic­u­lar – makes far more sense.

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Adam Shor­rock

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