There once was a time when Mercedes was the buttoned-down German performance automaker, with its AMG cars usually coated in dark paint schemes and rather dreary bodywork. BMW, on the other hand, was the showy, flashy, race-y car brand with big-bodied coupes and bright colors.
Over the last few years, the companies seemed to flop roles, like the magnetic poles on a far-off Teutonic planet. Now it seems Merc makes the wild machines and Bimmer has resigned itself to tamer track-day tools.
Merc’s new reign as chief proprietor of the most feral of road-going automobiles just might be up for contention, as BMW has released a rendering of a racecar that might hint at the replacement for the uproarious 1M.
That grey-on-grey thing you see above is called the M235i Racing and it will be replacing BMW’s Z4 racecar. Built only for the track, the 2 Series racer “meets all the requirements to race at the Nürburgring in the VLN Endurance Championship and 24 Hour race,” according to Top Gear.
BMW took the twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six in the production M235i and upped the power to 333 horsepower. Although that’s only an 11-hp bump, you can clearly see the majority of the changes in this track-tamer lie not under the bodywork but in the bodywork itself.
BMW designers bolted up a true mechanical limited-slip differential in the rear and some seriously expansive rear fenders that just barely cover the wide racing tires. Improving looks, aerodynamics, and downforce are new front and rear spoilers and diffusers. These suck the low-slung body to the tarmac. It really reminds me of the original M3 with its short, wide body and no-nonsense stance.
What you can’t see from the rendering is the FIA-approved roll cage constructed inside the cabin and the racing fuel tank.
“The basis our engineers had to start with when developing the racing version of the BMW M235i Racing was exceptionally good,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt bragged to Top Gear. “We did not have to make many modifications in order to get the M235i Coupe up and running as a race car.”
Yes, this just might be a Bimmer racecar but I suspect that it could very well be spun off as an all-new M2. I wager Bimmer fans won’t be satisfied with the measly 322 hps pushed from the M235i. In fact, I’m quite convinced the dour dudes at Bimmer could push this powertrain to well above 350 hp for an M2.
We’ll have to wait and see … hopefully not too long, though.
What do you think of the looks of this would-be M2? Tell us in the comments.