Each year, Car and Driver puts together a test of all the new performance cars from that year, called the Lightning Lap. The idea is the C&D team brings each performance car to the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and record the fastest lap they car with each car. Then all of the cars’ laps are compared to see which is fastest. Simple, but informative and interesting. Pure power and speed don’t always matter around the highly technical VIR. So there are quite often surprises on the lap board.
This year’s Lightning Lap featured not one, but two BMWs — the BMW M2 and M4 GTS. The former is the newest BMW darling, winning over the hearts and minds of old-school BMW enthusiasts. The latter is a fire-spitting track monster and the fastest road-going BMW ever made. So how did they do compared to all of the other cars on the list? Quite well, actually.
The BMW M4 GTS was obviously the faster of the two Bimmers around the track. With a time of 2:52.9, it beat out such performance giants as the Audi R8 V10 Plus, Porsche Cayman GT4 and Dodge Charger Hellcat. It lost to the usual likes of performance cars, such as the Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 GT3 RS. However, what’s interesting is a couple of other cars that beat the M4 GTS. The Mustang GT350R and Acura NSX both places higher on the lap board than the M4 GTS. The GT350R we knew was fast, but holy hell is it fast, posting a 2:51.8 lap time. The NSX was even more impressive, running a 2:50.2. We knew the NSX was quick, but with all of its weight, from the electric motors and big dual-clutch gearbox, you’d think it wouldn’t be the best track car. Apparently, it’s stellar.
BMW’s little M2 also did quite well. While it didn’t beat any supercars, it did manage to be faster than the aforementioned Hellcat, Ford Focus RS and V8-powered Lexus GS F. The big news there is it beating the Focus RS, one of its chief rivals. Being both around the same price and having the same amount of power, the M2 and Focus RS have been put up against each other quite a lot, lately. So with the M2 putting down a 3:01.9 lap time, it beat the Focus RS’ 3:03.9 by a whopping two seconds. If you don’t think two seconds is a lot, consider the fact that the 610 hp Audi R8 V10 Plus only beat the 365 hp M2 by five seconds. And being that the M2 only has about 15 more hp than the Focus RS, I’d say that a two second victory is impressive.
BMW’s taken some flak, lately, for making its M cars too soft. Well, its latest two proved they can hang with the best in the world, so it seems that the M Division is headed back in the right direction.