Every year, Car and Driver does its annual Lightning Lap test, in which they bring the best sports cars of each year to the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) to see which car is fastest. For the past decade, BMW has featured a car in the Lightning Lap almost every year, with the exception of two. Sometimes, BMW featured two cars in the same year. So let’s take a look at how every BMW featured in C&D’s Lightning Lap fared over the past ten years.
This graph shows each and every BMW that contended in the Lightning Lap, their weight and their time. The solid dots represent each car’s time on the graph and the holed dots represent their weight. It starts off with the 2006 BMW M6 and goes all the way up to the current BMW M2 and M4 GTS, the latter two just recently contended this year. So let’s take a look at how BMW has done over the years.
The 2006 BMW M6 weighed in at just under 4,000 lbs and finished with a lap time of of about 3:10. Fast forward to this year’s contenders, the BMW M2 and M4 GTS and we see some pretty scorching performance increases. Admittedly, it makes sense that the M4 GTS has by far and away the fastest time ever recorded by a BMW at LL. It’s the most hardcore and fastest BMW M car ever produced, so it’s gonna be the fastest.
But the really surprising part was the M2. The only other car, aside from the M4 GTS, to pull a faster lap time than the BMW M2 was the 2015 BMW M4. That makes the M2 faster than the current M5 and M6, X5 M, 1 Series M, and the E92 M3, despite having less power than most of them. It’s lighter than almost every other Bimmer on the chart, but both the 1 Series M and Z4 M weighed less and were torched by the M2.
What’s also interesting is that BMWs seem to be getting heavier as the years go by but also faster. Obviously, they’re also getting much more powerful, overall, but it’s interesting that the extra power isn’t offset so much by the weight. Chassis improvements, power delivery, rear differentials and dual-clutch transmissions are just getting these cars through laps faster than ever before.
We all expected the BMW M4 GTS to be the fastest Bimmer to do Lightning Lap but I think the biggest surprise was the scrappy M2. Faster than most, while having less power than most and not exactly being a featherweight. It just goes to show how capable of a car it really is.