review

BMW M2 Build - Power

The M2 comes with decent power from the factory without any modifications, but in the spirit of building my vision of an M2 GTS, I wanted to do a few things.  Before I get flame mail from those that want huge horsepower cars....I acknowledge that the M2 is not the most powerful thing out there.  But the power it does have is very balanced with the chassis.  I am in the camp that believes you don't need 500+ hp to have a fast track car.  With the right driver I have seen a Miata make a fool out of a Porsche or Corvette on the track.  I believe that a good driver and a balanced car will likely lay down the fastest lap times.  Stock the M2 has an inline 6 cylinder single turbo putting out 365 hp and 343 lbs torque pushing 3,450 lbs.  Not bad for a short wheelbase car that is priced reasonably.  The turbo has some lag but not much and often it is unnoticeable.  On the track under hard pushing you can notice the turbo lag a bit, but you can compensate for it by spooling up the turbo a bit early.

At the time I modified for power there were not many options.  No one had bigger turbos or bigger intercoolers available for the M2, so I opted for a cold air intake and a tune.  For these kinds of mods I always go with Dinan as they are a trusted brand that make reliable products.  I did not want to push the power too high as that often leads to other parts breaking or wearing out early due to the added stress or heat from the power mods.  I wanted a bit more power but mostly more responsive feel in the power delivery that would not stress the drivetrain or cause maintenance issues down the road.  I also live in CA and thus I wanted power mods that would pass CA's strict smog requirements.  Thus Dinan was the first place I looked as they are one of the few that go through the trouble of getting CARB certified (at the time of this post they are still pending CARB approval for some of their power mods).  

I got their cold air intake kit finished in carbon fiber as well as their stage 1 tune.  The cold air intake adds some engine bay jewelry but also gives the engine a nice note when you rev it up.  The stage 1 tune changes the signals going to the ECU that then "tricks" the ECU to make adjustments which results in more power and more responsiveness.  That is an overly simplified explanation, but for more details check out their product pages.

The claimed gains for these mods are as follows, but I will be doing a dyno after the build is done to record actual power and weight changes.  These gains are likely under ideal circumstances and thus I am a bit skeptical of how real they are, but what I can say is the car does have more power and responsiveness than a stock M2 and thus I am satisfied.

  • Cold Air Intake: 10 hp peak gain, 15 lbs torque peak gain
  • Stage 1 tune: 15 hp peak gain, 7 lbs torque peak gain

About a year ago Dinan did come out with a bigger turbo and intercooler package which would more dramatically increase power.  The reason I have not gone this far with the power mods is that the balance of the car (the best part of the car in my opinion) might suffer.  With gains of 101 hp and 86 lbs torque for Dinan's P2 Power Package I am not sure the car's chassis can properly utilize that much power.  Even on the track there are very few times I tell myself "I wish I had more power".  Usually I am wanting a bit more grip or more brakes as the power seems fine 95% of the time with the Dinan power mods I have already done.  

Those that follow BMW rumors know about the M2 Competition (M2 CS) coming out.  I have already been asked why I based this build on the original M2 and not wait for the M2 CS?  There are a few reasons.  The first is that when I bought this M2 and thought about the build the M2 CS was only a whisper.  The second is that the M2 CS will have a new engine (a detuned version of the S55 from the M3/4) yet the M2 CS will cost an estimated $10k more.  For $10k I could always tune up my M2's power to match or surpass the M2 CS's power if I really wanted to.  If I was to do that I would certainly go with Dinan's P2 Power Package.  But the biggest reason I did this build on the original M2 is that I am not sure I need more power given this is a track oriented car versus a street or drag car.  I want the best stopping power possible so I can dive into turns and I want power I can confidently lay down coming out of turns.  For that I don't need the M2 CS but rather I need big brakes, great suspension, and a balanced setup.  And from what I have heard, the M2 CS will not upgrade the brakes or suspension over the original M2 as the M2 CS upgrades are focused on the engine and cosmetics.  And even if they did upgrade the brakes they still would not match the Sparta Evolution brakes I am about to put on.  So I have decided not to fall into the age old trap of simply wanting more power.  I am focused mostly on getting power I can lay down and having a great suspension that compliments the balanced M2 chassis.  Plus I happen to have an M2 laying around :)

    BMW M2 Build - Cosmetics

    Not all mods need to deliver performance, sometimes you have an image of how something should be or how you want something to look and you feel compelled to just mod it into reality.  Call it vain, call it a waste of money....in the end you are creating something that is uniquely you.  That is the theme for this stage in the build.  I simply wanted the car to look a certain way.

    The M2 is a great looking car straight from the factory but there were a few things that I felt were "off".  Some of these things were a matter of personal preference, other things were design flaws forced on BMW by regulation or certification requirements.

    Some of these things I bought and had installed when I purchased the car, other things I added shortly after I took delivery, and some things were recently added to complete the look.  I have listed everything I have done that fits in the "do it because I want to" category.  Not much to review as there are no claimed performance enhancements but what I can say is that I picked my vendors very carefully to have the highest quality possible.  So needless to say, these parts have great fit and finish.  Enjoy.

    List of parts:

    Roux Carbon Fiber Helmet Review

    The club members who are racers or track rats will know that a new helmet standard has been published (SNELL 2015) recently which, over time, will mean most people will have to buy a new helmet to do track days or club racing. I have been using an Arai GP-6S for the last two years and I have to say it is a great helmet, but with the new SNELL 2015 spec I decided it was time to try something else.

    I wanted a helmet that met the new standards, was relatively light, had communications built in, would be appropriate for open cockpit cars and GT cars, and would not break the bank. I looked at all the great helmets out there (Stilo, Bell, Arai, Simpson, and Sparco) but I found that either the helmet had not been updated to the new standards, had limited features, or was extremely expensive.

    Roux R1-CF

    gloss carbon fiber, iridium blue shield, communication system, COOL-X, drink tube, release system, HANS

    I came across Roux which is a new helmet company but one that was built by racers for racers. From my research it doesn't seem they manufacture the helmets themselves, but rather they do the design and leave the manufacturing to someone else. The result is a loaded helmet at an inexpensive price compared to the big brands. Roux makes three models (fiberglass, composite, and carbon fiber). The fiberglass version is their entry model but that is not to say it is an entry helmet. It is SNELL 2015 certified, comes with a built in communication system, drink tube with a quick disconnect, HANS mounts, and an emergency release system. The composite and carbon fiber versions have everything the fiberglass version has PLUS it is FIA 8859 certified, and it has a COOL-X cooling system (ya that's right a water cooling system that hooks up to your COOL-X shirt). You might see on their site they offer a matte carbon fiber version, but after talking to some distributors it seems the matte version is being discontinued due to lack of demand (sad as that would have been my personal preference).

    While I have not used the COOL-X system yet I hope to give it a try soon. I have been able to test the communication system, drink tube, and release system and I have to say it is nice to have everything built in and integrated. For the communication system you can choose between ear cups or ear buds so no matter what type of car you drive you can make the system work for you. I am in an open cockpit Radical PR6 and in most helmets I need ear buds, but with the Roux the ear cups worked great to protect my ears from the 10,000 RPM engine mounted right behind my head. The release system are two tabs that tuck away but when you need them in an emergency (which I hope to never test) the emergency team can pull on the tabs and lift the helmet off your head without putting stress on your neck. This is a nice system I hope to see other brands adopt.

    So with all those features what about the most important aspect of a helmet....the fit? If possible I recommend trying on any helmet before you buy it, but since Roux is so new with limited distributors I was forced to buy before I try. Roux comes in four sizes, with three different check pad thicknesses, and three different ear cup thicknesses. So with all those options it should fit just about everyone. I will admit that while I got the small size it could have been a bit tighter but the fit is tight enough with no pinching. The quality of the liner and other materials are top notch which is impressive considering Roux is so new to the game.

    Something less important for GT drivers is the aero, but for us open cockpit drivers this is critical. There is a rear spoiler, top air vent, and aero/style lines which is a good package all around......but I did experience a small amount of lift. The lift is not of much concern as it is rather minor but ideally there would be none. Others might not experience the lift as I do have a rather small sized head, but I do think Roux could fix this if they added a front (chin) aero kit. This could come standard on a future version or it could be an add-on accessory which is what I hope Roux considers. A simple chin gurney would likely do the trick. Roux, I would be happy to work with you developing this :)

    All three versions come with a clear shield, but the composite and carbon fiber versions also come with a dark smoke shield. In addition to all these included options and features you can also buy other shield options (amber, iridium blue, or light smoke), a visor peak, forced air scoop, COOL-X hose, various communication cables, and a drink tube. It is great to have various optional accessories, but the "included" accessories are what is truly impressive and is where you end up saving a ton of money. A comparable set up with the big brands would cost you $500 - $1,000 more.

    So what is the price? The fiberglass version costs $500 while the composite version costs $900 and the carbon fiber version costs $1,400. So the way I look at it the Roux is a high-end helmet priced as if it was a mid-level helmet. I have not done a widespread weight comparison but compared to my last two helmets I would say the Roux helmets are very competitive when it comes to weight, especially once you consider the features that come standard with the Roux.

    In short I am thrilled with my carbon fiber Roux. I wish it was a bit tighter and I wish there was zero lift but both things are minor improvements and likely specific issues to me. For the money, you can't find another helmet on the market packed with as much features and safety standards so I would recommend taking a look at a Roux. I should mention that Roux also makes bags (helmet bags, a backpack, and some roller bags) and they are wonderful. I have their H&N (helmet & neck restraint) bag and their backpack and I have to say these are the best driver bags I have seen or used.

    H&N Bag with the Racer Backpack

    If any club members want to check out my Roux helmet or bags let me know, I would be happy to have you take a look.

    Thanks, Winston