BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

Converting our BMW G87 M2 to xDrive - Is it possible?

Can the BMW G87 M2 be converted to xDrive? We find out as we build a 1500 bhp G87 M2 drag racer.
R44 Performance launches its BIGGEST project yet! Reading Converting our BMW G87 M2 to xDrive - Is it possible? 7 minutes

Back in 2022, BMW unveiled the brand new G87 M2 Coupe with the critical information that it would only be available in rear wheel drive, unlike the G80 M3 and G82 M4 that came before it.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion

Why didn't BMW make an xDrive G87 M2?

As the M2 is BMW's smaller and lighter sports car, it's clear they wanted to stick to their previous M3 philosophy of front engine, rear wheel drive and a vehicle that focuses heavily on driver engagement - we can see this with the M2 now being the only M car that can still be optioned with a manual gearbox here in the UK.

However, we do know a G87 M2 CS is on the way which still has the possibility of having the xDrive drivetrain.

Why convert a BMW G87 M2 to xDrive?

You may be wondering why we are xDrive-swapping an M2 in the first place. Besides, BMW made the G87 to be the smaller, more nimble and engaging driver’s car. Isn’t rear wheel drive the perfect setup?

You'd be right. I mean here in the UK, the weather remains pretty wet for most of the year so an xDrive setup might make the performance more accessible. But, if that's the case, why not just buy a G82 M4 xDrive? Perhaps you just like the smaller package of the M2 - but how could it ever be worth the cost of swapping the entire drivetrain?

BMW G82 M4 xDrive

BMW G82 M4 xDrive

So, why are we doing this?

We want to build one of the fastest BMWs in the world & we didn't want to chop up our 1000 bhp G80 M3 xDrive after just having it back. The G87 has an additional cool factor as we haven't seen any huge power builds as of yet.

Tom Wrigley Performance BMW G87 M2 Tuning

Tom Wrigley Performance Workshop

For those of you who are unaware, we’ve teamed up with Tom Wrigley Performance to turn our Papaya Orange BMW G87 M2 into a 1400 whp+ xDrive-converted monster to take to Texas 2k25 and be competitive amongst some of the fastest BMWs in the world.

If we’re aiming to make this one of the fastest BMWs in the world with upwards of 1400+ bhp, a rear wheel drive layout just couldn’t transfer all that power to the road, especially from a dig in the quarter mile. Rear wheel drive may be okay for 100-200kph/60-130mph times but not drag racing at this level of power.

BMW G87 M2 Drag Racing

BMW G87 M2 Drag Racing

BMW G87 M2 Stage 2 at Santa Pod Raceway

There’s a lot of work to be done between now and next April including a complete OEM xDrive swap, complete engine & gearbox build with our single-turbo kit and potentially even some custom bodywork and interior modifications.

The xDrive Conversion

As far as we know, we are the first to attempt this conversion on the G87 M2 so, with no blueprint to follow, we're making it up as we go along.

This week, the talented technicians at Tom Wrigley Performance remove the engine and drivetrain so we can assess exactly what parts will be needed and what alterations we need to make to convert the G87 M2 to xDrive.

Now, the way I just said “removed the engine and drivetrain” made it sound like a pretty simple task. For the guys at Tom Wrigley Performance, it’s a very systemised and routine job. However, for the average mechanic that doesn’t have years of BMW main dealer knowledge and experience, it’s no easy feat.

Inspecting the underside

After first getting the car up on the ramp, the underside and drivetrain all looked relatively similar to that of the other G8X vehicles. One thing we noticed straight away was that the propshaft would need to be a fair bit shorter than the one you’d find on a G82. The drive flange on the back of the transmission also appeared to be a different design which would be a hurdle to overcome. The only way to tell for sure was to drop the engine and gearbox out of the car to have a closer look.

Rob, ex-BMW main dealer tech & general BMW wizard, jumped on the computer to make a shopping list of new bits we’d need as well as items that already cross over from rear wheel drive to xDrive cars.

Tom Wrigley Performance Technician - Rob

Rob - Technician at Tom Wrigley Performance

Something interesting Rob pointed out from the get-go: the front anti-roll bar is the same on the rear wheel drive M2 and the G82 M4 xDrive. This either means BMW is cost-saving by having only one part number OR this could be a clue that BMW plans on releasing an xDrive version of the M2 in the future, likely the M2 CS. The latter wouldn’t be great for us so we better get cracking and beat BMW to it.

Parts needed to swap a BMW G87 M2 to xDrive

Parts that we needed for the xDrive swap include new front hubs, shocks, suspension arms, drive shafts, a front prop shaft, an xDrive steering rack + arms + track rod ends, steering column, backing plate, front differential, new arch liners with space for the new front driveshafts as well as various sensors and hardware.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Parts

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

In addition to that, we needed a new ZF HP76 gearbox and of course the transfer case for xDrive. We were hoping that we could attach the transfer case onto our existing rear wheel drive gearbox as xDrive cars use the same 8-speed ZF HP76 unit. Unfortunately, the design of the drive flange is different on the rear-wheel drive HP76, meaning you’d either have to modify it or swap the transmission completely. We opted to swap it completely as we already had a complete donor drivetrain from a G82 M4 xDrive. We would then keep the existing mechatronics unit already coded to our G87 and put that into the new gearbox.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion

Swapping the Mechatronics Unit

To put it simply, we’d be taking the brain (mechatronics unit) from our original rear wheel drive gearbox and putting it in the new xDrive gearbox. The mechatronics is already pre-coded to our car so nothing to worry about on that front. What we will need to code, however, is the transfer case but we’ll cross that bridge at a later date.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

In around 90 minutes, the guys at Tom Wrigley Performance had the engine and drivetrain out of the car. They prefer to drop the whole thing out as one unit to make things easier for them.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

The engine's out, now what?

With the engine and gearbox now out of the car (yes, we found it quite painful to see our 1 year old G87 M2 in this state), the guys began the xDrive swap along with installing the new front suspension components and giving a few other components a refresh with brand new OEM parts.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

The next step for us is to get the new xDrive running gear and engine back in the car and see how many wheels decide to turn. No doubt there will be a serious issue of some description as the conversion has gone a bit too smoothly so far.

I know many of you will be eager to know whether our efforts were a success or a massive waste of time but you’ll have to wait until the next episode of the series. A big ‘unknown’ for us still is the front propshaft as well as coding the transfer case which will require some specialist help.

BMW G87 M2 xDrive Conversion Swap

Episode 3 coming soon

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