Dynamically, the CS needs to answer two questions. First, is it the finest-steering M2 yet? And following on from that, is this the best-handling M2 yet and therefore one of the greatest modern BMW driver’s cars?
The bonus question, of course, is how close this front-engined coupé of an unapologetically muscular persuasion comes to matching mid-engined alternatives at such an elevated price point.
The answers are ‘yes’, ‘yes, if only marginally for road driving’ and ‘pretty damn close’. The CS may not be the lightweight modern-day coming of the E46 M3 CSL many will have hoped for, but it still offers an astonishingly good driving experience, and one that rewards and cultivates enthusiasm.
BMW hasn’t changed the level of steering assistance or the speed of the electromechanical rack but, for those familiar with the M2 Competition, it will be clear that the altered suspension geometry and high fidelity Cup 2 tyres have put more meat on the bone in terms of steering response and feel. The tight damping and, for our test car, considerably reduced unsprung mass due to the carbon-ceramic brakes and new wheels then feed into the CS’s ability to execute truly rapacious direction changes.
Of course, all these detail improvements at the front axle can only come to the fore because the rear, with its various rigid connection points, is so precise in its movements and offers an admirably consistent platform from which the engine can let its efforts rip. It’s a combined effort, and this chassis moves as one and with conviction. In fact, the M2 CS is just about as neat and terrifically agile on the road as you would imagine it’s possible for this kind of car to be, although the suspension needs considerable speed and load to work with true panache.
Unsurprisingly, this car also has the same playful side as the M2 Competition, even if you do have to work harder to free it, should you pick those optional grippy Cup 2 tyres. The Active M Differential in the rear axle maintains traction well but, with deliberate efforts from the driver, it’s overcome easily enough and operates progressively when the car does begin to pivot. It doesn’t work quite as communicatively or predictably as the best purely mechanical limited-slip diffs, but neither does it promote understeer early on in corners.
All this being said, the CS doesn’t generate the delicacy, alacrity or flow of an Alpine A110 or Cayman. It also lacks the off-throttle adjustability of those kinds of cars, although the BMW is less flighty in poor weather and anyone who simply wants to feel like they’re in a loosely sanitised touring car should look no further.