I can’t remember the first time someone called me a “glutton for punishment”, but I know that it’s a phrase that’s been directed my way often. Whether jumping down stairs on a skateboard, driving obscenely long distances in a car intended for track use only, or choosing to guard the biggest guy on the basketball court when no one else will, I find a certain satisfaction in getting beat up a little bit.
However, physical punishment is one thing, emotional punishment is another. It comes in so many different forms, and can sneak up on you in so many different ways, that I do my best to avoid it at all costs, or so I thought.
As an M235i owner, the announcement of the M2 meant two things; I would no longer have to hear about how it was a lackluster successor to the 1M (because it wasn’t), and that I was going to love my car just a little bit less than I had before.
Early on that was the case, my M235i continued to hold onto a huge chunk of my heart. Through a combination of generally avoiding news about the M2, and telling myself that it was “excessive on every front”, I managed to not even entertain the idea that the M2 would offer all that much more of a satisfactory vehicular experience.
I was trying my damnedest to remain blissfully unaware of all things M2 in order to preserve the torrid love affair I’d been enjoying with my M235i.
It had been working too, right up until the folks at Dinan Engineering got in touch and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. They knew I was going to be at Monterey Car Week in August, and the Dinan S1 M2 was going to be stashed near by, so it was just a matter of making time to take it for a spin. Only a fool would pass up such an opportunity, and I am no fool.
I accepted their offer with gratitude, but also with the knowledge that once I’d driven this extreme variation of the humble 2-Series platform, there would be no going back. Never again would I look at my car the same way. Never again would I get the same rush from burying the go pedal, or flicking the rear end out around a corner. The Dinan S1 M2 was going to wreak emotional havoc on me, and I was perfectly ok with that from the moment I fired the damn thing up.
The initial sharp snarl emanating from the quad-tip Dinan Free Flow Exhaust is the kind of sound that dredges up all kinds of feelings, especially if you happen to own a BMW equipped with a lowly stock exhaust. It’s no secret that BMW keeps their factory exhausts rather subdued, but even the note of the M-Sport pipes pales in comparison to this.
It’s angry, ferocious even, but perhaps best of all, it’s only those things when you want it to be. There’s no drone at low RPM, nor are there a comical amount of pops and burbles when you lift off the throttle, as I constantly had to while slogging through tourist traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway.
When I was treated to sections of the PCH devoid of campers, rental ‘Stangs, and new exotics with ancient occupants, the S1 M2 really got its claws into me. Between the Carbon Fiber CAI sucking heaps of frosty costal air in, and the Dinan Resonator Delete kit sending it out through 3.25” T304 stainless steel tubing, the exhaust was screaming like Bruce Dickinson on Aces High.
Then a stretch of road really allowed me to take advantage of the collaborative efforts of the DINANTRONICS Performance Tuner, the exhaust and the cold air intake and I was laughing like Ozzy.
My M235i is legitimately fast in a straight line, and it feels even faster due to its size. The Dinan S2 M1 is legitimately blisteringly f***ing fast. I’m sure the short wheel base plays a part in amping up the feeling of the speed, but the way it comes on in such a rush, and stays with you all the way to redline, it’s pure lunacy.
BMW pushed the N55 and its single twin-scroll turbo nearly to the limit, which left Dinan a very small amount of space to work with. However, being the Bimmer masterminds that they are, they managed to squeeze an average of 12-15 HP/lb-ft out of the straight-six, with max gains recorded as high as 31 HP/lb-ft!
What I experienced was a Stage 1 tuned M2 with 383-horsepower and 411 lb-ft of torque. The horsepower figure doesn’t tower over the factory rating of 365 HP, but you know it’s the 343 lb-ft of torque, getting a bump up over 400 that really matters. The shove from the middle of the rev range all the way to redline is truly comical. It just keeps pulling, and pulling HARD.
My only gripe is that Dinan chose to build upon an M2 with the M DCT transmission instead of a stick shift. I know, the 7-speed double clutch means more impressive acceleration times, and better lap times, but I still can’t help but yearn for the manual here. I don’t care if gobs of power have been added, it’s still a small two door BMW. In my mind, that means it should have 3 pedals, period.
Now then, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to lay out my thoughts on all the other modifications Dinan made to the car. First, there’s the Dinan Rear Suspension Link Kit to consider. It replaces the stock rubber bushings with Teflon coated machine steel rod ends and the OEM curved bar with a straight billet aluminum rod at both the rear and the front, though only the rears allow for adjustment.
Then you have the Dinan Tension Strut Ball Joint Kit that replaces the rubber bushings in the thrust arms with precision ball joints and machined aluminum housings, Dinan Adjustable Camber Plates that allow for 43mm of total camber adjustment, Dinan Lightweight Tubular Sway Bar Set that can be mounted in 7 different positions with supplied adjustable end links, and last but not least, Dinan High Performance Adjustable Coil-Over Suspension System that allows up to 1” of drop in the front and 1.5” in the rear.
Well, if you know the PCH, and you know the traffic situation on it, especially during Monterey Car Week, then you’ll understand why I cannot offer in depth commentary on these elements of the vehicle. I hope to have another go with the S1 M2 under different conditions, ones that will allow me to tell you just how much of a difference all these high strength materials make. What I can say is that when I got back in my M235i, it felt like the ’01 Dodge Grand Caravan I learned to drive in.
Speaking of, you might be wondering how life has been with the M235i since this experience. It hasn’t been particularly harsh, I still enjoy getting behind the wheel every time I need to do so, but I’d be lying if I said it felt just as special as it used to. Driving the Dinan S1 M2 didn’t ruin my car for me, but it certainly changed my perception of it. It’ll never look as aggressive as the S1 M2 with 19 x 9.5 and 19 x 10.5 Forgeline wheels neatly tucked under those massive flared fenders, or have as brutal of an exhaust note, but I’ll make peace with that at some point.
Then again, maybe I won’t, the memories are still too fresh to know for sure.