The BMW M3 and the Honda S2000 are two of the most popular mid-tier track toys, and this footage shows why. Without taking huge risks or even sliding much, these mildly modified examples enjoy a quick, respectful dice around the Nürburgring — one which they complete in just 7 minutes and 37 seconds.
There’s that nasally, dry, unmistakable bark from Dino’s M3’s S54 — the sound of real racing induction which comes from a pricey CSL-style carbon airbox. Without much more than an ECU reflash, the raspy straight-six outputs a healthy 370 horsepower.
That shove moves through a much-maligned SMG gearbox, albeit one modified with the faster-shifting software from the BMW M3 CSL. Then onto an OS Giken differential before it travels through the axles to the 265/35R18 Yokohama A052 tires at the rear. This package makes it a straightforward, friendly, and confidence-inspiring car to drive.
Weighing in at 3,200 pounds, the BMW carries a 400-pound penalty over the svelte S2000, but the BMW also sports massive AP brakes at all four corners. There is a small carbon wing at the rear, but that’s hardly considered aero. With proper tires and little traffic, this package is enough to complete a lap of the ‘Ring in 7:32.2.
The S2000 is the more modified machine, with the biggest standout in the parts list being the HKS supercharger. Kept in-check by an AEM V2 ECU, the blown F22C makes occasional flames (3:38) and a healthy 330 horsepower. Because it’s delivered in a reasonably progressive fashion, the 255/40R17 Federal FZ201 tires are grippy enough to put it down without wheelspin. That said, Andre doesn’t run traction control and must be more cautious with his throttle inputs.
The responsive front end of the car suggests it might be just a bit pointier than the plush BMW behind — though it should be noted both cars run square setups. Just observe how little steering input is required in this footage, and how it’s able to find several car lengths through the tight switchback called Adenauer Forst (3:00 above). In Andre’s onboard footage below, we can see how the tail rotates much more through these technical sections, though it never looks unwieldy or dangerous (2:58 below).
Though mixing forced induction and an agile S2000 brings to mind images of a terminally oversteering deathtrap, this car is balanced, reassuring, and planted. KW springs which suit the circuit — complete with helper springs — gives it an astounding amount of compliance. Predictably, the 2,750-pound S2000 stops well with XYZ big brakes. All these modifications, managed by a capable driver, are enough for semi-casual laps around the Nordschleife in 7:37.
Equal but Different
The M3’s torquier motor is slightly faster exiting most corners, but the Honda’s top-end is enough to keep the Bimmer from utilizing the draft. The longer the section, the further the S2000 walks away. Fortunately, the BMW’s six-piston AP Racing brakes fitted to the front end can reel the S2000 back before one of the fastest, longest sections on the ‘Ring.
By clawing back some distance in the braking zones and occasionally taking tidier lines, the Bimmer remains in the fight. Sometimes, Andre turns in a hair too late and is caught out by a bump or a stretch of adverse camber. Though the S2000 is remarkably agile, it also is subject to the texture of the road it’s traveling on. A mild bobble at the entry to the challenging, off-camber Brunchen (6:29) loses it some time, showing how much a difference minor line alterations make at a course with an imperfect surface.
The two aren’t taking significant risks in every corner and rarely do their cars step out of line. In fact, the pointier S2000 only seems to slide much on turn-in; it never spins its wheels much exiting a corner. They take a few gutsy moves through traffic for a Touristenfahrten day (4:30 in Andre’s footage), but it’s still very much the 8/10ths-style of driving a sensible track rat ought to take. There’s no hardware on the line, after all.