What is it?
Occasionally, when test cars cannot for whatever reason be delivered to Autocar, road-testers are asked to collect directly from the manufacturer.
Far from being an inconvenience, these visits almost always throw up something interesting. That might be the sighting of an upcoming model still shielded from public view, or rival cars on site because the management is curious about the opposition. Once you’re through the gates, it pays to pay attention.
In the case of the BMW M2 CS – the third, possibly final and so far most unapologetic derivative of BMW’s finest current driving tool – it happened again. A visit to BMW UK HQ in Farnborough was my first chance to see the updated 5-Series in the metal (handsome as ever), and also the all-new 4-Series (worse than in the pictures), but that wasn’t all.
Sitting adjacent to the CS in the car park were an original 1973 3.0-litre CSL Batmobile and an M3 CSL. How very, very interesting. Two more covetable M-division road cars you’ll struggle to pin down. But equally, on the basis of the already stellar M2 Competition, would you really bet against the latest red-hot coupe from M sitting anything less than comfortably in its elders’ company, decades from now?
I'm not sure I would, though we’ll know for definite soon enough, not least via an exhaustive road test with telemetry. For now, this first drive on British roads ought to paint an adequate picture for those debating whether to meet the car’s eye-watering £75,320 asking price, which is some £23,000 more than the M2 Competition and puts the M2 CS directly up against the Porsche Cayman GT4.
On the subject of price, it's also impossible to ignore the fact you can now buy a scarcely driven example of the older but similarly conceived M4 CS – 10bhp more powerful, 5kg lighter, somehow, and ridiculously easy on the eye – for less than £55,000. Hmm.
Undoubtedly, BMW is asking for a fair chunk of money for a car that, unlike the historic icons found at UK HQ, doesn’t have an ‘L’ in its name, which in Munich is an alluring letter that represents added lightness and extra-specialness. At 1525kg (add 25kg for the dual-clutch gearbox), on paper the M2 CS is no lighter even than the M2 Competition it supposedly overrides, and this despite the fact the weight of the bonnet has been halved by the use of carbonfibre, which is also used for the roof panel, and the 19in wheels are forged and lighter than ever.
Perhaps weight has been fed back into the mix by the adoption of multi-mode adaptive suspension until now reserved for the M4, and the extra bodywork that apparently provides better stability at speeds approaching the car’s 174mph maximum. The M2 Competition already looks hammer-hard, but the CS gets an unmissable new front splitter, rear diffuser, gurney flap and bonnet vents, all of which are thrown into intimidating relief by our car’s Hockenheim Silver paint-job. It is fierce.
Elsewhere the CS gains Michelin’s track day-specific Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – serious rubber, and an option above the standard-fit Pilot Super Sport tyres – and the characteristics of its electronically controlled multi-plate rear differential have been tuned specifically.