Company bosses weighing up what they believe could be a growing market for increasingly driver-focused cars
Jim Holder
19 October 2017

More hardcore versions of the BMW M2 are under development, with company bosses weighing up what they believe could be a growing market for a suite of increasingly driver-focused CSL or GTS versions of their cars.

Recent spy pictures suggest that BMW is already testing an M2 CSL on the road. Insiders suggest BMW will use a detuned version of the S55 turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine from the M3 and M4 rather than a highly strung version of the M2’s older N55 unit, due to the increased reliability and improved responses the newer technology enables.

Drive will still be sent exclusively to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Despite the performance benefits offered by the latter, BMW M vice president Dirk Hacker confirmed to Autocar that market demand for driver-focused cars will ensure the manual remains an option.

“The M2 is tracking at 40-50% above our expectation in terms of sales, with almost half of buyers specifying a manual,” he told Autocar. “Demand for cars like the M2, which is probably our purest M product today, has surprised us, and that opens opportunities for building more extreme cars, in the vein of GTS and CSL heritage models.

“Any car that has true heritage to motorsport is an opportunity for us. New markets are always opening for those cars and that will increase, so long as we keep building cars that are sufficiently special.”

Sources suggest that the M2 CSL will arrive after the standard model’s facelift, which is due to go on sale next year. Instead, it is likely to go on sale 12 to 18 months later, as the M2 approaches runout.

The choice of the CSL moniker is also relevant. It was first used on a homologation special version of the CS, the 3.0 CSL, in 1972. The L was added to designate the car's lighter weight. It suggests that the GTS name, which is currently in use on the M4, will be reserved for faster but potentially bulkier versions of larger, more powerful cars.

The development of more enthusiast focused cars is believed to be being driven by increasing customer demand among traditional M car buyers; while M sales continue to grow significantly, much of the increased demand is coming from new markets or from widening the appeal of the cars with, for instance, broader dynamic capabilities.

To this end, Hacker confirmed the M2 is likely to be the last M car offered with a manual gearbox, saying: “I like manual very much, but the take up rate from customers on cars other than the M2 is just going down. The fact is that a double clutch gearbox delivers better performance and efficiency.”

However, he did hint that the next generation M3 and M4 may not have to follow the M5 in using a four-wheel-drive system. “We will increase the power of these cars, but we don’t want to increase the weight,” he said. “We’ll use four-wheel drive where we need it.”

Hacker also ruled out ever making a front-wheel drive M car, saying: “You have to be able to feel the car with through the steering and the throttle. Today, there is no solution for front-wheel-drive.”

Related stories: 

BMW M2 CLS on the horizon 

BMW M4 GTS review 

BMW M2 review 

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Comments
4

19 October 2017
BMW: The market for driver-focussed cars isn't a new one - it's just one you'd forgotten how to satisfy it, that was until the M2.

M cars generally and the GTS/CSL variants especially, should already be the most driver focussed models within the range - otherwise what's the point (apart from prizing a few extra pounds profit out of folks for the 'CSL Evo Carbon' model)?

Want to know why the M2 is selling well BMW - it's simply because it's more of a drivers car than the current M3/M4. As others have said, it harks back to the purity of models like the 2002 turbo and original M3, back when the Ultimate Driving Machine tagline actually meant something and wasn't just marketing hype.

According to the article, the M2 may be the last M car to offer manual transmission - why, when you can see 50% of your customers want to buy one? Porsche went down that route but soon learned that for all the advantages of PDK, many drivers still wanted to shift gears themselves.

I also don't understand why you would delay the launch of the M2 CSL model until runout -
now is the time to launch it - 'make hay whilst the sun shines'.

The glory days are long gone but I'd still like to see a return to form for BMW and taking the lessons learned from the M2 would be a good starting point.

19 October 2017

I'm laughing SO hard:  “Demand for cars like the M2, which is probably our purest M product today, has surprised us" from the company that used to create the ultimate driving machine.

BMW forgot how to make sports cars...

 

19 October 2017

Oh dear: ditching the N55 for the S55 which, IMHO, is the worst sounding BMW engine in production history since the 1970s.  Just keep the N55, folks and take all that weight out of the M2 and you've got your CSL already to go.  1570 kg for a manual M2 is bonkers (though 1660 for a DCT M4 is simply ludicrous). A Porsche 991.2 C2 weighs 'only' 1440 kg....and, yes, I know you can get adults in the back of an M2 but 1570kg does not a sports car make. So, remove the shizzle, supply some forged wheels, remove aircon and electric seats...and voila' : an M3 CSL.....

BertoniBertone

19 October 2017

Quote: "Insiders suggest BMW will use a detuned version of the S55 turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine from the M3 and M4 rather than a highly strung version of the M2’s older N55 unit, due to the increased reliability and improved responses the newer technology enables."

Sorry, that statement is just complete rubbish. The S55 is effcetively a "highly strung" version of the N55. And Alpina run the N55 at 440bhp and you would not call that highly strung.

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