What is it?
AC Schnitzer has been modifying all manner of BMW cars since an E32 7 Series conversion labelled ACS7 appeared at the 1987 Frankfurt motor show.
The Schnitzer name actually goes back much further than that, to 1963. Schnitzer Motorsport campaigned the BMW 2002ti as well as the 635 CSi and E30 M3 Group A racers in some of the best-loved touring car championships ever conceived. In 1999 it won Le Mans as a BMW Motorsport works team, running the V12 LMR. Then in 2012 the team returned to DTM with the nightmarish E92 M3 DTM and won the title at the first time of asking with Canadian Bruno Sprengler driving. All in, not a bad record.
But as far as the road cars are concerned, it starts in '87, since when there’s barely been a BMW that AC Schnitzer hasn’t in some considerable way modified. The question is whether there’s ever been a model with less room for improvement than the current darling of the M division line-up: the phenomenally good M2 Competition.
The short answer is that there probably has't, leaving Schnitzer’s mantra of changing what can be improved and leaving what cannot somewhat stuck in the lower gears. However, Schnitzer can't exactly not try, so here we have the new ACS2 Sport.
If the name is familiar, that's because Schnitzer applied it to its take on the original M2, released in 2015. Think of the Competition-based car as the ACS2 Sport MkII. As usual with any of these conversions, it’s possible to take certain elements and leave others. This particular car has everything: more than £25,000 of modifications. The Competition’s twin-turbocharged S55 3.0-litre straight six is now mapped to release not 404bhp but 496bhp, which straight away gives the ACS2 Sport a power-to-weight ratio that even the M4 GTS, with its hugely expensive water injection system and £120,000 price tag, can’t quite match.
That element costs £5110, to which you can add £490 for our car’s repainted engine cover. Add a further £2830 for the sports exhaust, which retains the car’s original particulate filters and electronic valving but uses a new silencer that, being smaller than the standard part, doesn’t droop down beneath the line of the rear valance like a pair of hip-hop pants. The big-bore, matt-finish carbonfibre tips won’t be to everyone’s taste, and you can have chrome or a dark ceramic finish instead, but visually the quality of the work seems very high indeed.
As it does for all the aesthetic changes, though, just so you know, the Sunset Orange paint job seen here is a BMW factory option. Schnitzer adds the front splitter, side skirts, rear spoilers (roof and bootlid) and the rear diffuser, all in carbonfibre. The total cost is £4635, although it’s possible to swap the spoiler for a proper stanchion-mounted wing (£2840), to which they can even add a gurney flap (£130). Schnitzer doesn’t make any claims for downforce beyond the changes being "meaningful".
In the face of all this, the most discernible and potentially controversial change once you're actually on the move seems cheap. Costing £2640, AC Schnitzer’s RS suspension is the first part of the package it honed during a six-month development period. Manually adjustable for bump and rebound, the dampers are tunable, whereas their passive countparts in the standard M2 Competition are not, and altogether this suspension setup drops the car’s ride height by up to 40mm, which is quite a lot.