What is it?
We’ll say it now to curtail any suspense: you’re looking at the best driver’s car BMW produces. High praise, we’ll admit. But after a day spent lapping the new M2 CS around a circuit in Germany, we can’t think of any other current BMW that delivers quite the same combination of performance, balance and sheer attitude as this.
You’ll remember the M4 CS. This car takes the same philosophy. The M2 CS is a last hurrah for company’s junior M car prior to the introduction of a new second-generation model in 2021. Its production isn't officially limited, but with the M2 set to cease to production in September, you’ll need to be quick with your order. At £75,320, it costs a significant £23,895 more than the highly regarded M2 Competition. Expensive? Yes, but no more so than its prime competitor, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, which is listed at £75,348.
One look at it is to realise that justification for the high price tag isn't reserved exclusively for the elevated dynamics. There are also quite a few expensive-looking parts that serve to differentiate it from the M2 Competition. Among them are a new-look front bumper with a carbonfibre splitter element, a carbonfibre-reinforced-plastic bonnet with a large central air and a carbonfibre roof panel – all of which are shared with BMW’s new M2 GT4 race car.
There’s also a larger carbonfibre rear spoiler, along with a reworked carbonfibre rear diffuser and lightweight 19in forged aluminium wheels, which offer the choice of Michelin Pilot Super Sport or, as worn by our test car, more track-focused Pilot Sport Cup tyres. Both are 245/35 front and 265/35 in profile.
The changes not only give the M2 CS a more aggressive look but also bring greater downforce. The head of BMW M development, Dirk Haecker, says lift is virtually eliminated at 124mph, providing the car with what he describes as “more settled qualities at high speed”. Don't expect any reduction in weight, though; at 1575kg, the M2 CS weighs exactly the same as the M2 Competition.
The engine represents new performance ground for the smallest M car. It’s the same version of the long-serving S55 unit used by standard versions of the old M3 and the M4, with a newly designed exhaust system. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six delivers 444bhp at 6250rpm and 405lb ft of torque between 2350rpm and 5500rpm - an improvement of 40bhp on the less heavily tuned version of the S55 used by the M2 Competition, although torque is the same.
Drive is sent to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual gearbox or the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic used by our test car. There’s also a reworked electronically controlled Active M Differential that has been tuned specifically for the M2 CS.
With the dual-clutch gearbox, the power-to-weight ratio is 281bhp per tonne. This is 24bhp more than the M2 Competition but fails to top the 292bhp per tonne of the Cayman GT4, whose naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat six kicks out 414bhp and 310lb ft.