► New BMW M4 CS tested
► Sticky tyres, more power
► £32k more than regular M4
If Goldilocks was a chassis engineer, I think she’d quite like the BMW M4 CS.
It's sharper, faster and more precise than the regular BMW M4 (and its optionally available Competition Package), but less hardcore (and less scary to drive quickly) than the halo M4 GTS. Just right?
Is the BMW M4 CS a limited edition?
No – the new M4 CS (for Competition Sport) will be in production from 2017 to 2019, and BMW hasn’t set an upper limit on numbers. So it’s limited by time, rather than by volume.
Besides, according to BMW M division boss Frank van Meel, ‘when we started the project we knew that it was going to be sold out.’
What separates the BMW M4 CS from a regular M4?
More power, less weight, a particularly sticky set of tyres and recalibrated software for the adaptive dampers, active differential and engine management system. And a fair bit of carbonfibre.
Peak power from the twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six is 454bhp – around 30bhp more than the standard M4, and 10bhp more than the Competition. However, ‘it’s not the extra 10 horsepower, it’s more the extra 50Nm (37lb ft) that makes the difference,’ van Meel says. Max torque is up to 443lb ft, the same output as the M4 GTS.
There’s no manual gearbox option for the M4 CS, fitted exclusively with the seven-speed dual-clutch DCT gearbox.
Unlike the GTS, the CS does without the fancy water-injection cooling for the induction system. Apart from some detail changes to the exhaust system (derived from the regular M4, and not the costly titanium system from the GTS), there are no mechanical changes to the engine – the power and torque increase comes primarily from software changes upping the boost to its twin turbos from lower revs.
That applies to the suspension, too, with the adaptive dampers calibrated with stiffer settings for each of their three modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. (The M4 GTS, on the other hand, uses different, manually adjustable suspension).
The stability control system and power steering, too, have been recalibrated.
Most of the tweaked ones and zeroes have been made to adapt the M4’s chassis to the soft, lightly treaded Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres it wears as standard. The same boots fitted to the GTS, they make an enormous difference to the M4’s handling – and require care in the rain.
The front wheel diameter has dropped from 20 to 19 inches, in search of better steering response. The rear wheels are 20 inches in diameter.
How fast is the BMW M4 CS?
Flipping quick. Zero to 62mph takes 3.9sec – mad for a saloon car, when you think about it – and top speed is 174mph.
You mentioned lots of carbonfibre bits?
Just like the GTS, the M4 CS gets very tasty looking bare composite door inners, race car-style fabric pulls in place of proper door handles. A gimmick maybe, but a likeable one.
The front door speakers have gone, too, so when you play with the standard widescreen media system its music and sat-nav instructions are broadcast largely from the rear of the cabin. Which has seats – unlike the GTS, which fills the back of the car with a half rollcage, the CS has the leather back seats from the standard M4. Likewise, the front seats are fully adjustable (manually as standard, electrically as an option), and kinder to your back than the one-piece buckets of the GTS.
Together with the Alcantara dash trim with a CS logo chopped into it, the M4 CS cabin does look and feel a whole heap more special than the regular M3/M4, albeit with fewer places to rest your elbow.
The bonnet is the same composite one as the GTS (the OLED tail-lights are the same as the GTS too), while the CS gets its own carbon front splitter and Gurney-style flick-up lip along the bootlid. Compared with the M4 Competition, the M4 CS is around 35kg lighter; compared with the GTS, it’s around 70kg heavier.
That weight figure does depend partially on what options have been fitted; the giant carbon ceramic brakes fitted to the car we tested, for example, are optional rather than standard.
What’s the cost for all this carbon finery? How much is the BMW M4 CS?
It’s a lot of money: £89,130. That’s nearly £33k more than a regular M4 Coupe, and £29k more than an M4 Competition. And about £33k less than the (sold-out) M4 GTS.
Given the paucity of mechanical changes between the M4 Competition and the CS, presumably that represents a fairly healthy margin for BMW.
Incidentally, the near-£90k asking price doesn’t include a rear camera, head-up display, Apple CarPlay or speed limit display as standard – they’re all extra...
Does it drive like a car that’s worth £33k more than a normal M4, though?
In many ways it does. It feels far better resolved than the standard car, with much tighter body control – yet not at the expense of ride quality (on the mostly smooth roads we drove the car on, admittedly).
There is still a fair amount of weight transfer going on – particularly with the dampers in their softest Comfort setting, there’s a noticeable pitching motion, and things can feel a bit floaty in faster corners – but overall, it feels almost like a different car. More predictable, more transparent in its intentions, and with vastly improved steering feel and response.
Amazing what a difference a software tweak can make, eh? And a set of chewing gum-compound tyres, of course. The Cup 2 tyres are a big part of the equation, and the CS’s handling has essentially been set up around them.
A few caveats to get out of the way: although I’ve covered quite a few miles in the M4 GTS, it’s a long time since I’ve driven a standard M4, and I haven’t driven the M4 Competition. We didn’t have long with the CS, driving it out of BMW’s M base near the Nurburgring during the 2017 24h race weekend on very busy roads, and in perfect weather conditions for the tyres. But – on the basis of this drive, the BMW M4 CS is a very, very good car.
It sounds great too, by the way. The regular M4 sounds like a flushing toilet on start-up, but the CS somehow sounds more evocative – guttural, and a bit phlegmy, like a dinosaur with a cold. And with plenty of (borderline OTT) crackles and bangs from the exhausts on overrun.
The (optional) chunky Alcantara wheel feels great, as do the (also-optional) ceramic brakes. The DCT gearbox is well matched to the rest of the powertrain, if borderline violent as it bangs through gears in its fastest setting.
Will there be more CS models in the future?
Yes – BMW will roll out the CS formula to other M Division cars in the near future.
‘It’s logical to do for other cars, but doesn’t mean we’re going to do it for every one,' BMW M boss van Meel told us. 'But yes, it’s possible we will arrange for all of these. The M3 and M4 – it’s iconic – we put our focus on this car first.’
Expect an M2 CS before too long; such is the demand for the M2, that BMW has had to increase production volumes, he added.
The BMW M4 CS feels so much better sorted than the regular M4, and much more special too. At the same time, it’s much less compromised than the over-raw M4 GTS, and a car you could happily drive every day.
On the basis of this drive, it’s the best-rounded M4 yet, and the sweet spot of the range – but £89,000 is a hefty price to pay for it.
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