ULTIMATE M2 331kW CS inbound
BMW IS SET to unleash the full potential of its M2 coupe with a powered-up, kitted-out CS model. With the F80 M3 now retired and its F82 M4 sibling soon to follow, M Division has been given free rein to fully exploit the mechanicals installed with the introduction of the M2 Competition. That car came within a whisker of knocking off the Porsche 911 GT2 RS in last year’s MOTOR Performance Car of the Year contest.
As you’d expect, BMW is keeping quiet on any official confirmation for now, but well-connected sources have dished enough dirt for us to build up an accurate picture of what to expect from this tyre-shredding twin-turbo two-door. According to our best information, the M2 CS will be revealed in late 2019 and be produced for around 12 months as a last hurrah for the current-generation F87 M2 before attention turns to the new 2 Series Coupe (see breakout), tentatively scheduled to appear in 2022.
The specification of the M2 CS is familiar from the Competition, but the details differ. Under the bonnet is the S55 3.0-litre twin-turbo six, but outputs are expected to swell to an M4-matching 331kW from 5550-6500rpm and 550Nm from 2350-5500rpm. Compared to the M2 Competition, power increases by 29kW and while maximum torque remains the same, the peak extends by another 300rpm. The M2 CS will be the final home for the S55, as future six-cylinder M cars, including the recently revealed X3/X4 M and next-generation M3/M4, will use the latest S58 engine.
In a coup for hardcore enthusiasts, a choice of seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual will be offered, though whether BMW Australia sees fit to offer both transmissions remains to be seen. Expect the CS to shave a couple of tenths off the Competition’s 0-100km/h claims of 4.4sec (manual) and 4.2sec (dual-clutch) while top speed will be limited to 250km/h, with the potential for a 280km/h V-max if the M Driver’s Package is optioned.
No major chassis updates are required as the Competition scored most of the M3/M4’s juicy bits, including a massive carbon fibre engine bay strut brace, forged aluminium control arms and wheel carriers, ball joints replacing rubber bushings and a rigidly mounted five-link rear axle.
Nonetheless, the addition of adaptive dampers should both soothe the Competition’s restless ride while also allowing for greater body control and sharper responses with the sportier drive modes selected. Apportioning the power to the rear wheels will be an electronically controlled limitedslip differential, capable of adjusting between zero and 100 per cent lock-up in just 150 milliseconds.
Wheels are expected to stay at 19 by 9.0-inch front and 19 by 10.0-inch rear wearing rubber measuring 245/35 and 265/35 respectively. Presumably these are the widest sizes that can be accommodated by the M2 platform without serious modification. The tyres themselves, however, will become sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, enhancing every aspect of the CS’s capabilities.
2020 M2 CS GOODIES TO EXPECT
Cute rear lip spoiler balances the jutting front splitter and will help push the rear tyres into the ground at high speed
Wheel and tyre sizes same as M2 Competition, but wheels will be a lighter CS-style and tyres Michelin Cup 2s
A choice of gearboxes will be available: six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch. Hopefully BMW Oz offers both
Stopping power in particular will be improved thanks to the option of carbon-ceramic brakes for the first time on an M2. With monster 400mm rotors and six-piston calipers up front, supported by 380mm rear rotors and four-piston calipers, it apes the specs of the Competition’s impressive optional M-Sport brakes but adds the heat resistance of carbon composite and reduces unsprung weight.
Further weight will possibly be shed by adopting a carbon-fibre roof. Prototypes have been spotted with and without, which suggests it may not be standard. If it does make the cut it will save around 6kg (based on M4 figure) and slightly lower the centre of gravity. As can be seen in our exclusive computer-generated images, other exterior enhancements include a jutting front splitter, mini ducktail rear spoiler and heavily sculpted bonnet with power bulge, all of which look extremely similar to the parts already offered via the M Performance Parts catalogue. While subtle, the upgrades give the M2 CS a bit of much-needed visual clout to go with its undoubted performance. A number of different wheel designs have been spotted on prototypes, but word is the production car will wear 763 M forged Y-spokes that have become something of a CS signature.
Another controversial CS signature has been the lightweight interior, consisting of a Spartan ‘lightweight’ centre console, single-zone climate control and, in the M4 CS, natural fibre door trims that eliminate virtually all storage space. Current information suggests that the M2 CS will have unique interior trim, but all prototypes spotted have had standard M2 interiors, so it may be that any differentiation will be cosmetic in the form of Alcantara trim panels.
THE BMW 2 Series line-up is about to get quite complicated. It was all planned: the nextgeneration G42 2 Series would share the FAAR platform with the upcoming F40 (yes, really) 1 Series. For the majority of models, that will indeed be the case, with the 2 Series Gran Coupe using three and four-cylinder engines in various states of tune to power either the front or all four wheels. However, that would leave a sizeable rear-driven gap where the current 2 Series resides. Our best information is that a new rear-drive M2 will appear in late 2022, but whether it will use a new platform or a version of that used by the Z4 and Supra is still unclear.
The biggest unknown, of course, is the price. The M3 and M4 CS carry a price premium of exactly $50,000 over their respective Pure variants, putting the M2 CS at $149,900. This would put BMW’s baby hottie smack bang in the middle of the M4 Pure ($139,529) and M4 Competition ($156,529) variants, so we’d expect to see the M2 CS occupy the space left by the departure of the M3 at around $125,000-$130,000, though this is pure speculation.
Nevertheless, the M2 Competition has been a revelation, elevating the already excellent M2 to the verge of greatness, offering a mix of performance and pure fun many thought BMW had forgotten how to offer. With more power, greater grip, a more flexible suspension setup and angrier looks, the M2 CS has the potential to be one of the most exciting performance cars of its era.
M DIVISION has been extremely busy and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Its next release is the recently revealed X3 and X4 M, which debut the new S58 3.0litre twin-turbo inline-six. This is the engine that will power the all-new G80 M3, but that’s not expected until late 2020. Before then there will be the M8 Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe and a new X5 M, all of which will use the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the M5. Also expected to appear in 2019 is the new M135i, which despite the familiar name will trade six cylinders and rear-wheel drive for a 225kW/450Nm 2.0-litre turbo four and all-wheel drive, a powertrain that will find another home in the M235i Gran Coupe. Add to this the possibility of an X7 M and an upgraded V12 for the M760i and it appears annual leave will be in short supply in Munich!
NEW MODELS to celebrate Godzilla’s golden anniversary
NISSAN CELEBRATED 50 years of the iconic GT-R nameplate at the New York Auto Show, revealing an upgraded Nismo, a 50th Anniversary edition and a subtly upgraded 2020 version of its halo sports car.
All MY2020 GT-Rs benefit from new turbos focused on improved low-rpm response, a titanium exhaust, revised exhaust manifolds, a reprogrammed six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, retuned adaptive dampers and a new brake booster.
Outputs from the 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 remain at 419kW/632Nm.
The 50th Anniversary GT-R revives the R34’s iconic Bayside Blue hero colour, complemented by white stripes. Pearl White with red stripes and Super Silver with white stripes are also available, but all 50th Anniversary GT-Rs score new interior trim in a special grey colour, claimed to be reminiscent of the night sky at twilight.
Nissan has paid particular attention to the flagship Nismo. More extensive use of carbon fibre shaves 10.5kg, the bumpers, bonnet, front guards, roof, side sill covers, boot and rear spoiler made of the lightweight material.
A further 20kg is shed thanks to lighter wheels and the adoption of carbon-ceramic brakes, while the Dunlop semi-slicks have an 11 per cent bigger contact patch thanks to a wider tread and fewer groves. The front guards now sport GT3 RS-style vents, which funnel away hot air from the engine and increase front downforce.
Local pricing is not announced, but Nissan Australia has confirmed the 2020 GT-Rs will arrive locally this year.
THE MERCEDES-AMG ‘35 family’ now numbers three, with the swoopy CLA35 four-door coupe joining the A35 sedan and hatch. This is important, as locally the CLA45 outsold its hot hatch sibling, so this slightly more sensible version should shoot out of showrooms as quickly as it accelerates.
That’s 0-100km/h in 4.9sec, in case you were wondering, 0.2sec slower than the hatch, which suggests it’s a touch heavier than the five-door. Slight weight differences aside, the rest of the mechanical package is the same, a 225kW/400Nm driving all four wheels through seven-speed dual-clutch.
The A35 is an impressive steer, so the CLA35 is likely to be equally capable when it lands locally towards the end of 2019 for an as-yet undisclosed sum.
FOUR-POT PONY scores 246kW/474Nm and V8 chassis bits
FORD HAS turned the wick up on its unloved (locally, at least) Mustang EcoBoost for the 2020 model year with the introduction of the High Performance Package. Born from a Focus RS-engined mule, the boosted four-pot Pony scores more grunt and a host of chassis bits from its eightcylinder brother.
A larger turbocharger helps liberate 246kW/474Nm, increases of 22kW/33Nm over the standard car, but the changes go further as 90 per cent of peak torque is available from 25005300rpm and power continues further towards the 6500rpm redline.
A shorter 3.55:1 final drive further improves acceleration and the electronics are retuned to allow sportier driving. A body kit reduces front-end lift and improves cooling to the larger brakes, lifted from the V8 GT, and thicker anti-roll bars improve cornering.
If this sounds appealing, you’d best make your interest known, as Ford Oz had no comment as to whether the model was under consideration locally.
EUROPEAN BUYERS of the new Audi S6 or S7 will experience a new 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, which uses a regular turbo and an electric compressor to produce an impressive 257kW/700Nm. In other markets, however, including the US, the Middle East and Asia - including Australia - where diesel is increasingly on-the-nose, Ingolstadt’s new luxury express will use the 331kW/600Nm 2.9-litre twinturbo V6 from the RS4/RS5. Excellent. Controlling these outputs will be a highly advanced chassis, including constantly variable all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, adaptive dampers and monster brakes with carbon-ceramics an option for the first time. If you’re a fan of understated performance, you’ll need around $190,000 when it lands in 2020.
HOW’S THIS FOR dedication? One avid Ken Block fan has created a LEGO Hoonicorn V2, complete with turbos out the bonnet, a functional transmission, working suspension and even all-wheel drive thanks to electric motors. While not an official kit, creator Lachlan Cameron will sell you the instructions for a very reasonable $40.
LOTUS IS the latest manufacturer to jump aboard the electric hypercar bandwagon, confirming its first new model since the Exige in 2010 will be a battery-powered exotic to be unveiled later this year. Dubbed the Type 130, no details are offered, other than it’ll be “the most dynamically accomplished Lotus in our history.” A bold claim.
WHILE CHEVROLET stopped short of confirming the new C8 Corvette will be mid-engined, the first official shots of a heavily camouflaged prototype of the new car certainly suggest that the powerplant sits behind the driver. Concrete details are scarce, but Chevrolet has confirmed a reveal date of 18 July, 2019, for its radical new sports car.
VANQUISH & RB 003! T wo new hybrid V6 Aston Martin models seek to cut Ferrari’s lunch
ASTON MARTIN MEANS BUSINESS - big business. Not content with being solely the producer of luxurious and powerful GT cars, the British marque is going straight for the jugular with mid-engined, rear-wheel drive offerings. Built to rival the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini and Mercedes-AMG on differing hypercar and supercar levels is the AM-RB 003 and all new Vanquish.
Unlike the Valkyrie, which is a rung above, the AM-RB 003 - or ‘Son of Valkyrie’ - is a car Aston allows us to compare to the likes of AMG One. “This is the bridging project between Valkyrie and Vanquish; the latter is the ‘cooking product’ for want of a better term in our mid-engined line-up,” explains Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer.
While clearly inspired by Valkyrie, the 500 AM-RB 003s will blend that car’s extensive use of carbon fibre with elements of Vanquish’s V6 hybrid powertrain in place of Valkyrie’s boosted V12. To an extent, development of the AM-RB 003 will run in tandem with of the Vanquish, though it’s the more expensive, carbon-tubbed car that will hit the road first.
“Obviously the point of the V6 is that it’s a smaller, easier-to-package engine,” says Palmer. “One of the lessons we’ve really embraced from the Adrian Newey collaboration is an obsession with mass, and wrapping everything as tightly as we possibly can for reasons of efficiency. You’ll see that in this car.”
Palmer confirms that Red Bull and its celebrated aerodynamicist will work directly on AM-RB 003, whereas their influence on Vanquish is less direct. That attention is evident in 003’s moveable aero surfaces. Aston claims improved efficiency and reduced noise versus a conventional aero solution.
Inside, Aston’s designer Miles Nurnberger talks of a ‘more habitable, but still focused place’.
The daunting job of translating the performance into a road car falls to Aston’s weapon’s-grade development team: ex-Lotus man Matt Becker and hypercar development ace Chris Goodwin. While the complexity of the project beggars belief, the prize is a big one: the chance to prove that Gaydon, not Maranello or Woking, is the seat of power when it comes to emerging hypercar technologies.
However, the push isn’t just from the top end of the performance spectrum with the Vanquish set to transform.
According to Palmer, “cars like this appeal on an emotional level”. Here, then, is the car you probably thought you’d never see - a series-production Aston with the engine in the middle.
For now this is the Vanquish Vision Concept. Come 2022 it’ll hit the road as the Vanquish. “A £200k (AUD$315,000), 320km/h Ferrari 488 and Lamborghini Huracan rival,” says Palmer.
In development and with many aspects of its performance still fluid, the new Vanquish will use a bonded structure rich in aluminium and reinforced in key structural areas with high-performance composites. The powertrain will be all-new: a performance hybrid marrying electrification with an in-house turbocharged V6 mounted longitudinally behind the cockpit. Power/torque outputs for the Vanquish and 003 are yet to be disclosed.
The goal? “A true supercar,” insists Aston’s chief technology officer Max Szwaj. “A car with a compact powertrain, mid-engined agility, impressive aero performance and light weight, with a fine balance of usability and performance.
It’s easy to design a track car: it only has one function. This car will be usable.” “The new V6, that’s all us,” says Palmer proudly, adding that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Aston’s German allies in Affalterbach, AMG. “Just over a year ago we recruited Joerg Ross [ex-Ferrari, ex-Maserati, into the role of head of powertrains]. He’s a wizard on the engine side and this new turbo V6 is his baby. It’s a performance hybrid, not a plug-in. The two technologies complement each other; they’re at their best in different spheres.”
Aston’s powertrain will need to target at least 535kW given the likes of the 530kW McLaren 720S and Ferrari F8 Tributo are benchmarked.
Szwaj is at pains to point out that, given its less than boundless budget, nothing Aston Martin does can be a one-shot. This hybrid is as much about future-proofing Aston Martin in the long term as it is building a Ferrari beater right now. “This technology is maturing. It’s still expensive, but you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money, and we need this technology to meet the emissions challenge,” explains Szwaj. “There is a lot of uncertainty. We must design something that will excite and be socially responsible at the same time.”
These factors will challenge the next Vantage and DB11 just as they must shape the Vanquish, a consideration that serves to illustrate both the enormity of the task Aston’s team is facing (with no major OEM from which to pilfer parts and thinking, as Porsche can, for example) and the enormous flexibility this solution will bring to the firm’s technical arsenal.
“But you need to think of it as a platform for further development. The base V6 will deliver amazing performance but it’s also the base of the powertrain in the AM-RB 003, with a different kind of hybrid system to deliver the increased power. This is a powertrain we can scale up or down with a different number of cylinders. With the electrified transmission, we also have the possibility of all-wheel drive. We are looking at this - we’d be stupid not to.”
Just as Vanquish’s powertrain demonstrates flexibility, the chassis structure Szwaj is developing promises performance with adaptability, too.
Constructed primarily from bonded aluminium, as Vantage and DB11 are, the Vanquish should use composites in key areas to reduce weight.
The design team has faced a challenge: deliver a car that, while being based on an engineering package quite unlike any other Aston Martin, nevertheless looks like an Aston Martin. At the same time the project’s ambitious performance targets also insisted that form must be tightly tethered to function, with no indulgent styleled flourishes that might corrupt the car’s aerodynamic efficiency. “We’re looking at a very aggressive layout for our cooling, and therefore the aero performance of the car,” confirms Szwaj.
Certainly the Vanquish and AM-RB 003 have striking forms, from low, almost feline faces, through to graceful flanks to brutal diffuser tunnels.
However, the overall message, from your eyes to your beating heart, is clear: these are two Aston Martins that promise to drive like no other.
VALKYRIE: The big daddy. Aston’s shortcut to mid-engined credibility - a road-legal, Red Bullsculpted hypercar with a 865kW hybrid V12.
VALKYRIE AMR PRO: The big daddy, but for track work only. AMR Pro is the ultimate Valkyrie - all the hybrid V12 glory, just without any road-legal compromises.
AM-RB 003: Not as fast, or wild, or as expensive, as Valkyrie, but still built around a carbon-fibre tub. Crucially, atmo V12 is swapped for a more powerful version of Vanquish’s hybridassisted V6. Just 500 will be built, and it’ll be with us before Vanquish; late 2021/2022.
VANQUISH: The new mid-engined Ferrari 488 (now F8 Tributo) and Huracan rival. Aluminium tub, hybrid V6 powertrain. Due on sale in 2022.