► AC Schnitzer's ultimate M2
► ACS2 Sport more powerful...
► ...and more expensive all-in
Few would dispute that the BMW M2 is a riotously fun car to drive. But there’s always room for more mayhem and mirth, tuner AC Schnitzer reckons. So the car tested here - the fully-kitted-out ACS2 Sport - is something of a rolling taster menu for the assorted upgrade parts and packages it has brewed up, all of them available separately.
Particularly tasty bits fitted to this M2 include a power hike from 365bhp to 414bhp via a new ECU (£3873), valved quad exhausts the better to hear it through (£2493) and Schnitzer’s RS suspension package (£2521), a bespoke set of springs and dampers adjustable for ride height, compression and rebound damping. We tested the car in the supplier’s recommended settings for fast road use, but it could be softened off further or tightened for trackdays.
So how do those upgrades come together?
Within moments of setting off from the CAR office, it’s clear the suspension is remarkably well sorted. Our car park is punctuated by a series of vicious speedbumps and despite the ACS2 sitting between 30 to 40mm lower than a stock M2 and 20-inch wheels entirely filling its arches, it glides serenely over each bump. On the road, ride quality is similarly smooth – it’s a car that proves a low ride height and large wheels don’t have to mean a punishing ride – and handling feels even more polished than the regular M2, with excellent vertical body control and breakaway at either end clearly telegraphed. The short wheelbase means that when it does let go you need to be awake, but it’s a friendly, fun car at the limit. This really does feel a sizeable step on from a standard M2.
The power upgrade is noticeable, too. The turbocharged straight-six’s original ECU is untouched, with the Schnitzer upgrade taking the form of a secondary ECU to unlock the extra horsepower. It does feel faster too: the full pupils-widening, crikey-we’re-accelerating-quickly fast. Importantly, though, it retains the standard engine’s smooth driveability, with very progressive power delivery for a turbo. The stainless steel exhaust sounds the part too, at a volume that is just the right side of socially acceptable. Its deep, resonant note settles down to an unobtrusively quiet hum at motorway speeds.
The only bugbear on the refinement front is a burr from the wider-than-standard front tyres, on a set of lightweight forged alloy AC1 wheels that cost a scary £6209. Their skinny spokes reveal more of the M2’s standard brakes – the same beefy calipers and special-compound discs used on the M4 don’t really need an upgrade – making them look even bigger.
Likewise the wider tyres, albeit still Michelin Pilot Super Sports as on the standard car, somehow accentuate the M2’s already swollen arches even further. The interior is more or less untouched, with little on offer beyond the grippy aluminium pedals fitted to this car (£164), or larger gearshift paddles available for DCT auto cars. This car doesn’t have those elephantine paddles fitted, but does have the dual-clutch transmission, and it’s a reminder of how effective a gearbox it is. I never once wished this M2 was a manual.
It certainly looks more extreme...
AC Schnitzer offers various exterior adornments, from this car’s relatively subtle front splitter (claimed to contribute meaningful downforce) and carbon bootlip (ditto) to more outlandish options according to taste. None are particularly cheap; the splitter and spoiler are more than a grand each, while the carbonfibre diffuser is more than £1500. And the painted engine cover if you want to let people know you’ve had the power upgrade is another £464…
All in, this particular car features nearly £19,000-worth of parts. At least the company can claim solid credentials to back up its stiff prices. With three decades of tuning, touring car and Le Mans success to its credit, it was BMW’s official performance parts supplier between 1997 and 2007, before the M Performance line launched, and has around 60 outlets in the UK offering three-year engine and drivetrain warranties alongside the original BMW factory assurance.
While it does cosmetics, its bread and butter is engine and suspension tuning, the latter partially developed at Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring, within striking distance of its Aachen HQ in Germany. Of all the parts, the suspension is the one I’d consider were I in the fortunate position of having a BMW M2 and cash to spend on it. It feels thoroughly well-sorted, polishing the M2’s already excellent handling to a finer sheen and imbuing it with a deliciously purposeful stance, the lower ride height making its already full wheelarches look fit to burst, yet without compromising ride comfort. It’s pricey but well judged.
AC Schnitzer ACS2 Sport: verdict
That last point sums up the ACS2 as a whole. It's a remix that's better than the original, but you're going to need incredibly deep pockets.