What is it?
The BMW M4 CS is the BMW Motorsport Division’s definitive take on the performance 4 Series Coupe. Maybe. And if so, only at the fifth time of asking if we include the late ‘DTM Champion Edition’ in the list of M4s we’ve been treated to already. Well, it’s no more cynical than Porsche’s profiteering with the ‘991’-generation 911 GT3, is it? Where desirable performance derivatives are concerned, it seems anything goes.
The M4 CS comes to market about a year after the even more expensive and specialized M4 GTS. It will be in production for the thick end of two years and officially it’s not a limited-series car: BMW M says it will simply make as many as it can within the time it has to make them. About 1000 a year, he says. And M boss Frank van Meel also says there’s sufficient global demand for the car to sell every one they’ll make.
Perhaps most interesting of all, the M4 CS is the start of something new and interesting from the M Division. Cars in this mould, with ‘CS’ badging, will be a constant feature of BMW M’s model range from this point onwards – or so say company insiders. In light of that fact, Munich certainly wouldn’t want to undershoot against expectations with the first one.
No danger of that last time around, you may remember. The M4 GTS was an incredible car, but one that stretched the margins of acceptability for a BMW M-car in all sorts of ways: most notably on usability and value. It cost £120,000, it had a relatively high-maintenance water-injected engine, it had manually adjustable coilover suspension, it had no back seats and – much too firmly suspended for mixed road driving in the state in which it was supplied for the test – it finished towards the bottom of our final order in last year’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout. BMW said it would built 700 of them and, a year on from the car’s appearance in UK showrooms, the word is that you can still get a brand new one without looking too hard or waiting too long. Not exactly a smash hit, then.
So if Porsche 911 GT3 RS-level mechanical execution and BMW outlay turned out to be a bit rich for an M4, what happens when BMW M takes some of the GTS’ more trick ingredients, halves that car’s price premium and keeps everyday road suitability front of mind during the dynamic tuning process? The new M4 CS is the answer: a car with plenty of the special track-ready flavour of the GTS, but whose engine and suspension don’t require a ready supply of distilled water and a garage with a hydraulic lift to get the best out of.