2017 BMW M2 CSR By Lightweight Performance Review

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As impressive as the BMW M2 is, rumors of a more hardcore version of the sportscoupe are still bubbling to the surface. BMW has yet to confirm or deny the possibility beyond filing trademarks for the BMW M2 CS back in November 2016. But even without any official statements, there’s growing momentum of the car actually arriving, even though nobody knows exactly when. In the meantime, those itching to drive a nastier BMW M2 can look at the aftermarket scene to scratch that itch; it just so happens that Lightweight Performance has a new program for the BMW M2 that not only packs 610 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque but also has a good name – the BMW M2 CSR – to go with it.

Eagle-eyed readers will probably remember that Lightweight Performance already has a previous program for the BMW M2. It unveiled it back in September 2016 and it featured, among other things, an engine upgrade program that tops out at 450 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It was a good program, but nothing compared to what Lightweight has prepared for the M2 this time. It’s not just about the cool name or the significant increase in power. This program also features a handful of new aerodynamic upgrades for the coupe’s exterior and a completely reconfigured interior that now includes an actual roll cage. This isn’t your standard BMW M2 anymore, ladies and gentlemen.

Exterior

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Off the bat, it’s easy to see that this isn’t your typical BMW M2. Lightweight Performance made sure of that with an aggressive aerodynamic kit that includes a new red front splitter and a massive rear wing at the back. The upgrades enhance the aesthetics and handling of the car while graphic decals on the sides and a new set of 19-inch lightweight forged wheels finished in red help create a racier look to the coupe. The wheels are also wrapped in Michelin Cup 2 tires measuring 265/35-19 and 295/30-19 in the front and rear, respectively.

The exterior upgrades on the new M2 CSR are a stark contrast from the upgrades the tuner presented back in 2016, even if the previous kit did well for itself in this department. For instance, it also featured an aerodynamic kit made up of a new front bumper with blacked-our carbon parts and an equally large spoiler at the back. It also came with a new set of 19-inch wheels and some graphic details slapped into the sides of the car. The difference between the two kits is largely defined by the more expressive look of the new program as opposed to the more subtle appearance of the old program.

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note: side-by-side photo of the two BMW M2 programs by Lightweight Performance

What other tuners have done

More than a handful of tuners have taken stabs building programs for the BMW M2, including Hamann and Evolve Automotive, considered as two of the premier tuners in the business today. Hamman’s exterior upgrade program for the German sports coupe also involves an aerodynamic kit that’s made up of a new splitter with extra inlets in it, side sill, a revised rear bumper, a small diffuser, and a trunk lid spoiler that has its own winglets. Meanwhile, Evolve Automotive’s upgrades on this section of the M2 are just as significant. Like Lightweight and Hamann, Evolve Automotive’s aerodynamic kit has its fair share of components, including a front lip with a lower adjustable section, a rear diffuser, and an adjustable rear wing.

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note: side-by-side photos of the BMW M2 by Hamann and BMW M2 by Evolve Automotive.

Interior

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Arguably the most significant change to come out of Lightweight’s new program for the BMW M2 can be found inside the sports coupe. That’s not an understatement because the tuner is offering to remove the rear seats completely and install a full-body roll cage in its place. Since the M2 is going to have over 600 ponies under its hood, a roll cage may be a good idea, especially if the owner’s going to maximize the full performance potential brought about by all that extra power. In addition to the roll cage, the German tuner is also offering significant cosmetic enhancements in the form of red and carbon fiber accents all throughout the cabin.

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This new interior upgrade package for the BMW M2 has a better identity than the previous upgrades the tuner was offering with its initial program for the sports coupe. That one didn’t come with a roll cage and was little short on aesthetic flavor. Instead, it came with an aluminum pedal set and carbon interior panels and performance seats wrapped in Alcantara fabric.

What other tuners are offering

If interior upgrades play a big role in determining the ideal program for the BMW M2, then prepare to be disappointed because there aren’t a lot of programs that can compare with the kind of upgrades that Lightweight Performance is offering. Even that doesn’t count for much considering what the tuner has to offer. Then again, the upgrades are a lot better than what contemporaries like Hamann and AC Schnitzer have to offer. Hamman, for example, is offering aluminum foot rests and pedals and LED door entry illumination. AC Schnitzer, for its part, has an aluminum pedal set and footrest, a key holder, a handbrake handle, and velour floor mats in case those items are of any interest to a customer.

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note: side-by-side photos of the interior of the BMW M2 by Hamann and the BMW M2 by AC Schnitzer.

The bonus of having BMW Individual in our lives

More than any part of the BMW M2, the interior offerings provided by BMW Individual have no peer. Whether its colors, trim, or material, BMW Individual has them at its disposal. Then there’s also BMW’s M Performance packages, which are also available to the M2. That’s another option worth looking into, especially if a customer is looking for options and accessories like a flat-bottomed racing wheel with paddle shifters, red-illuminated gauges, and the option to choose between leather, Alcantara, or carbon fiber as wraps on the dashboard and other pieces of equipment.

Drivetrain

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Lightweight Performance has a sick engine upgrade program for the BMW M2. Let’s get that out of the way before we dive deep into the good stuff. We already know that it packs 610 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. We also know that a tuner would really have to wear thin the M2’s 3.0-liter inline-six N55 engine to even come close to sniffing that figure. So it’s not surprising that Lightweight Performance didn’t even use the N55, opting instead to take it out and replace it with the M4’s newer inline-six S55 engine, giving it the ability to reach for power levels that the old vanguard that is the N55 just isn’t capable of. If this tuning strategy sounds familiar, it’s because other BMW M2 tuners have done it in the past too. We’ll get to that later though.

With the S55 engine firmly entrenched into the sports coupe, Lightweight then proceeded to put all of the auxiliary pieces together before giving the more powerful engine the necessary software upgrades that help bring its output to where it stands now. Whereas most engine upgrade programs for the BMW M2 peak at just under 500 horses, Lightweight’s new kit comes with boatloads of power to the tune of 610 points and 568 pound-feet of twist. Combine that with the weight savings brought about by the aero components and the roll cage – 430 pounds (130 kilos) lighter in total – the M2 CSR is now capable of blasting off from 0 to 60 mph in about three seconds even before peaking at a top speed of 203 mph.

By comparison, Lightweight Performance’s previous program for the M2 only brings the coupe’s output up to 450 horsepower and about 420 pound-feet of torque. The difference between the two kits in terms of power? 160 horses and close to 150 pound-feet of torque.

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What other tuners are offering

Needless to say, it takes a special kind of engine upgrade program to match up with Lightweight’s BMW M2 CSR. Fortunately, at least one other tuner had the same idea of an engine swap anchoring its own program for the sports coupe. This kit comes by way of Manhart Racing and it’s officially called the “MH2 630.”

Of the many outstanding qualities of the MH2 630 is the similar engine swap that Manhart did. It not only took out the M2’s N55 engine and replaced it with the M4’s S55 engine, it also performed modifications to the engine’s turbochargers and tweaked the engine control unit to get to its desired power output: 630 horsepower and about 650 pound-feet of torque. Needless to say, the M2 MH2 630 shoots off the line like a proverbial rocket, hitting 60 mph from an standstill in about three seconds on its way to a top speed that should comfortably blow past 200 mph.

Go check out how the two programs stack up against one another in the table below.

Tuner Power Torque 0 To 60 MPH Top Speed
Lightweight Performance 610 horsepower 568 pound-feet 3.0 seconds 203 mph
Manhart Racing 630 horsepower 650 pound-feet* 3.0 seconds* 205 mph*

Obviously, tuners who did not perform an engine swap as part of their engine upgrade were not even close to coming to the power figures achieved by Lightweight Performance and Manhart Racing. That’s not to say that they’re inferior though because a healthy segment of M2 owners are unlikely to even want an engine swap to begin with.

A long list of tuners has adopted the software upgrade approach with their respective programs for the M2. These kits focus more on ECU tunes above everything else, and as expected, the results vary depending on the tuner. So instead of going on a deep dive on each and every one of these tuners, I’ve instead prepared a table to make a little simpler. After all, the process that got these tuners these power figures are largely similar anyway.

Tuner Horsepower Torque 0 to 60 mph Top speed
Evolve Automotive 401 horsepower 450 pound-feet 4.0 seconds* 180 mph*
Hamann 420 horsepower 391 pound-feet 4.2 seconds* 180 mph*
AC Schnitzer 420 horsepower not mentioned 4.2 seconds 180 mph*
G-Power 410 horsepower 420 pound-feet 4.2 seconds* 180 mph*
Speed-Buster 426 horsepower 457 pound-feet 4.0 seconds* 180 mph*
Alpha-N Performance 450 horsepower 420 pound-feet 4.0 seconds* 180 mph*
RevoZport 480 horsepower 440 pound-feet* under 4.0 seconds* 186 mph*

Pricing

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Lightweight Performance didn’t announce the pricing details for the BMW M2 CSR program, but knowing what to expect from it means that the whole program isn’t going to cheap. Remember, this kit isn’t a typical software upgrade that most tuners offer so off the bat, the cost of actually replacing the M2’s existing N55 engine with the M4’s S55 engine is going to cost customers a lot of money. Add that to the aerodynamic body kit, the new set of wheels, and the overhauled interior, and the price for a whole conversion could approach around $40,000 to $50,000. The tuner is also offering the program to come with an actual M2 so, with this kind of order, the cost could go up to as much as $100,000.

Competition

Truth be told, Lightweight Performance and Manhart Racings aren’t the only two tuners to work to opt for a complete engine swap of the M2’s engine as part of their tuning programs. Another tuner, Dahler Design Technik Gmbh, performed the same operation of sorts with its own kit for the sports coupe. Unfortunately, it didn’t yield the same amount of power as the two tuners, settling only for an output of 531 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. The numbers may be inferior, but they’re still good enough to propel the M2 to a 0-to-60-mph sprint time in the mid-three seconds and a top speed of 199 mph.

Conclusion

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It’s evident with the way Lightweight Performance presented the M2 CSR program that the tuner developed this kit for a specific group of M2 owners. Whereas its previous and less-powerful program catered more to everyday owners of the sports coupe, the CSR program is geared more towards M2 owners who are more inclined to take their sports cars to the track. That’s why this kit comes with a roll cage, an engine swap, and power gains amounting to more than 600 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. And since this program is screaming with track-day capabilities, expect it to cost a lot more than a traditional tuning kit.

  • Leave it
    • Not for everyone
    • Price could reach six figures if it comes with an actual M2
    • Cheaper options available for more conventional software programs

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/kC920G)

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