AC Schnitzer ACS2 4.0i review: no, it’s not a 4.0-litre swapped BMW M240i Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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AC Schnitzer ACS2 4.0i review: no, it’s not a 4.0-litre swapped BMW M240i

Published: 03 Mar 2023

Blimey, what’s that thing?

Say hello to the snappily-named AC Schnitzer ACS2 4.0i; essentially a BMW M240i xDrive with a few choice modifications and many styling addendums.

AC Schnitzer unveiled its upgrade package in July last year, with the headline being a power bump from the standard 369bhp to 414bhp, while torque rose from the same 369lb ft starting point to a hefty 443lb ft.

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Unfortunately, all of AC Schnitzer’s changes can be optioned up individually, and this UK test car does without that engine tune. That means you’re limited to the aero additions, a few interior bits, new flow-formed 20-inch wheels, a cat-back quad-exit exhaust and a new passive suspension system that drops the ride height by up to 25mm.

But hang on, the badge on the back says it has a 4.0-litre engine?

You’re absolutely right. It does, and we’ve no idea why AC Schnitzer has added the decimal point to get to the ASC2 4.0i name. Even if you ticked the box for the near-£5,000 engine upgrade you’d still be getting the M240i’s standard turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, but with a new ECU to unlock the extra performance. That’s no bad thing of course – the engine (and much else besides) is borrowed from the larger M440i and offers plenty of grunt for BMW’s smallest coupe – but just be warned that you will be asked whether you’ve engine-swapped your brand-new 2.

So, perhaps at this point we should just ask you to ignore the badging. But then that’s pretty hard to do on the ACS2 4.0i. Heck, we counted no fewer than 25 different AC Schnitzer logos inside and out.

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So, what do you make of the looks? 

Well, we’ve already made our thoughts on the standard 2 Series Coupe public knowledge, so let’s start by outlining the additions that AC Schnitzer makes. You can have a plastic front splitter, a small roof spoiler, those strange little eyebrow-like boot spoiler elements and a protection strip that runs along the rear bumper under the boot lid. 

This particular example has all of the above, and there’s no doubting that it makes the M240i look more aggressive. Some will like it more than others, that’s for sure. Perhaps the most successful cosmetic change though is the addition of four round tailpipes to replace the oblong exits of the standard car. 

And more importantly, how does it drive?

The biggest difference from the standard M240i is the suspension, with AC Schnitzer favouring a passive setup over the optional (£550) adaptive system that most M240i buyers will spec. Schnitzer’s suspension is well-sorted and isn’t overly firm for UK roads. Larger bumps can seem a little harsh, but you get the sense that most of that is down to the overly large wheels and skinny tyre sidewalls: generally the ride is okay and road noise isn’t an issue.

In the twisty stuff the new springs and dampers reduce body roll and increase your confidence in the car, giving the M240i a sportier character that distances it slightly from its M440i sibling. 

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Plus, it's quick enough without the engine upgrade. BMW quotes a 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds and the rear-biased four-wheel drive system means there’s endless grip available. Perhaps a brake upgrade would have been worthwhile for AC Schnitzer, though? As standard the pedal is too squidgy and better feel would fit with the ASC2’s sporting intentions.

We didn’t notice a huge difference to the straight-six’s sound with the new exhaust either, although the steering is even better than the standard M240i’s thanks to the slightly lighter wheels at each corner and the new steering wheel.

Ah yes, what were those interior changes you mentioned?

The steering wheel is the most obvious. It’s a much more sculpted leather/Alcantara piece compared to BMW’s own chunky-rimmed attempt, and AC Schnitzer’s is much more satisfying to use. Although the centrally mounted heater button does remain, even though there aren’t actually any heating elements in the wheel. Frustrating. 

Still, AC Schnitzer adds new knuckleduster-style shift paddles behind the wheel too, as well as new aluminium pedals and a footrest. We’re pleased to see they haven’t gone over the top, but if you’re honest, how often do you take a good long look at your pedals?

Come on then, how much does this all cost?

A very good question. The cost of all the upgrades on our test car amounted to £14,500 with labour charges to fit the bits. Ouch. Individually you’re looking at almost £4,000 for the exhaust, £544 for the odd twin boot spoiler, close to £5,000 for the wheels and £2,150 for the suspension. And don’t worry if your M240i already has adaptive suspension fitted – AC Schnitzer will delete the software changes that come with that as well as swapping out the hardware. 

Oh, and the decal set on this car was an extra £72.66, so you could save yourself some cash by not ticking that box.

So, what’s the verdict?

Well, we very much like the standard M240i xDrive, so it’s no surprise that we enjoyed a lightly altered tuner version. And yet, there’s lots of the AC Schnitzer gear that we could probably do without, particularly where styling is concerned. 

Plus, because the standard BMW currently starts at £49,130 before options, this particular ACS2 is technically a £63,630 car. That’s a huge chunk of change for a 2 Series, and even though we’re yet to drive it in finished form, we’d almost certainly spend the extra to nab a £64,745 G87 M2.

Photography: Jonny Fleetwood

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