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The BMW M4 CS occupies the middle ground between the standard M4 and the M4 GTS. Is it the pick of the range?

Our Verdict

BMW M4

New name, new engine and two turbos and even a much needed facelift, the main question lingers - can the BMW M4 grab the initiative off of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé

  • First Drive

    BMW M4 CS 2017 UK review - with video

    The BMW M4 CS occupies the middle ground between the standard M4 and the M4 GTS. Is it the pick of the range?
  • First Drive

    BMW M4 CS 2017 review

    Mould-making M-car special feels more like a familiar M4 perfected than one reinvented, but it’s better than an M4 Competition and more usable than a GTS
4 July 2017

What is it?

It might seem odd to describe a near-£90,000 BMW M4 as the middle-of-the-range model, but that’s exactly what the M4 CS is.

It plugs the yawning chasm between the regular £58,365 M4 and the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500.

The justification for that £89,130 price tag is the use of some of the GTS’s exotic weight-saving parts. Truth be told, though, all you’re really getting from the hardcore model are its carbonfibre bonnet and lightweight door skins (more of which in a moment).

It isn't as though the CS also borrows the GTS’s trick water injection system or its fancy manually adjustable suspension. Instead, it simply uses a revised version of the same adaptive damping system that you’ll find on the standard M4.

It does get an uplift in power compared to the M4 Competition Package, though. (That’s the model that carries a modest £3000 premium over the standard M4 and lifts power and torque to 444bhp and 406lb ft.)

The CS has 454bhp and 443lb ft, which has been achieved simply through new engine management software. The CS also gets Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres - the same rubber used by the GTS.

The carbonfibre rear lip spoiler and front splitter are unique to CS, while the diffuser is taken from the GTS. BMW says the CS is 35kg lighter than a compared to a regular, twin-clutch gearbox equipped M4.

The CS is not a limited-series model and BMW expects to build around 2000 examples over the next two years.

We first sampled the CS on roads near the Nürburgring back in May; now is our opportunity to drive it on more familiar, and more demanding, British roads. 

What's it like?

In some ways, the CS is the M4 we’ve been waiting for, but in others, it’s extremely frustrating. Those frustrations relate to its day-to-day usability. Those skinny door cards – which are made out of compacted natural fibres – for instance, offer no storage whatsoever and do without speakers entirely. They do incorporate a little armrest, but it’s at such a sharp angle that your elbow always wants to drop off it. There’s no central armrest, either. All minor points, but between them they simply mean the CS is less convenient in everyday use than the much-cheaper standard car.

Otherwise, it’s mostly very good news indeed. The CS's interior is excellent, with high-quality materials throughout, although the suede-trimmed steering wheel is simply too fat and the heavily bolstered seats are woefully short of lumbar support.

The adaptive dampers have been retuned for the CS to make the most of those grippy Cup 2 tyres. The chassis is only a little stiffer than the standard car’s, but it feels so much more immediate and responsive. Within a hundred metres of driving, you’re aware of how much tauter the chassis is and how much sharper the steering feels. On a smooth road, the CS is completely brilliant.

On bumpier, narrower back roads the chassis is just about on the right side of too stiff. Any firmer and the car would skip around hopelessly, tyres losing contact with the road surface at every bump or ridge. As it is, though, the CS has just enough damping quality to deal with a scruffy road and keep its tyres pressed firmly into the asphalt.

The biggest improvement over the standard M4, however, is body control. Early M4s, in particular, felt wayward and loosely controlled at the rear axle, which, combined with a shortage of traction, made them spiky and nerve-wracking to drive. BMW has improved that with each subsequent model year update, but the CS does have the most cohesive and tied-together chassis of any M4 to date. Or any BMW M car for a very long time, for that matter.

On its Cup 2 tyres, the CS finds enormous cornering grip. There’s no understeer in the chassis whatsoever on the road, while traction is now very strong indeed. Of course, those tyres will be well out of their comfort zone even on a damp road, but BMW does offer a less aggressive tyre option.

Through second, third and fourth gears, the CS feels rampantly accelerative. Its twin-turbocharged engine isn’t the most tuneful motor but there’s no doubting the performance it delivers, while throttle response is decent for a turbo engine, if not quite exceptional. The DCT twin-clutch automatic gearbox, meanwhile, feels sharp and snappy in manual mode, but the latest such gearboxes from Audi and Porsche are more responsive still. Sadly, there is no manual gearbox option for the CS.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for an everyday car, it’s very difficult to recommend the M4 CS over the more usable, and much cheaper, M4 Competition Package.

Nonetheless, the M4 CS does have the best chassis in the range, and, judged purely as a driver’s car, it is the most rounded model BMW’s M division currently produces.

BMW M4 CS

Location Lambourn Down, Berkshire; On sale Now; Price £89,130; Price as tested £95,380; Engine 6cyls in-line, 2979cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 454bhp @ 6250rpm; Torque 443lb ft @ 4000-5380rpm; Gearbox 7-spd twin-clutch; Kerbweight 1580kg; 0-62mph 3.9sec; Top speed 174mph

Join the debate

Comments
10

4 July 2017
90k is ludicrous. What's happened to M? The base M4 should be the benchmark car in this field yet it takes 90k to make it drive the way it always should have...

4 July 2017
Well have BMW gone mad?.
£90K for an M4 is ridiculous, so many better cars for that money out their.
M4 CP with a small change in suspension.
BUT some fool will buy one no doubt.

4 July 2017
"the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500". But £150k for a Jaguar XE isn't eye watering as I don't recall such superlatives being labelled at the Project 8's price tag.

4 July 2017
Lanehogger wrote:

"the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500". But £150k for a Jaguar XE isn't eye watering as I don't recall such superlatives being labelled at the Project 8's price tag.

Not exactly fair, the Jaguar is a limited 300-run of a very highly modified car including a drivetrain not available in any other XE and wildly different bodywork, just for starters; the BMW is an M4 with a remap, a little stick-on spoiler and some rubbish new doorcards...

4 July 2017
Venturi288 wrote:
Lanehogger wrote:

"the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500". But £150k for a Jaguar XE isn't eye watering as I don't recall such superlatives being labelled at the Project 8's price tag.

Not exactly fair, the Jaguar is a limited 300-run of a very highly modified car including a drivetrain not available in any other XE and wildly different bodywork, just for starters; the BMW is an M4 with a remap, a little stick-on spoiler and some rubbish new doorcards...

And I should add the BMW is not limited in production number, only in the time it's on sale for (2 years IIRC)

4 July 2017
Lanehogger wrote:

"the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500". But £150k for a Jaguar XE isn't eye watering as I don't recall such superlatives being labelled at the Project 8's price tag.

Venturi288 is right, the M4 GTS and indeed the CS are nothing more than variants of the regular M4. But somehow they've ended up costing stupid amounts of money. The Project 8 on the other hand is a massively modified XE also featuring an engine not found in other XEs. And whatever version it is, the XE can easily command a price in excess of £100k that no 4 Series ever could.

8 July 2017
Of course it's a lot for what it is,but,is it?,depends how deep your pockets are,depends on your priorities too,what you want out of your choice of transport,as he said,lots of little things annoyed him,but,that's just him,I always said that all you needed out of a fast Car was a comfy driving position,minimal interior (Radio?! In a fast Car?) and some good Roads to Drive along,and if you don't like the price? Buy a used one, an M3 even, same thrills,just a lot lot cheaper.

Peter Cavellini.

8 July 2017
Good to see Dan Prosser at Autocar, he was the best writer at EVO magazine ans I always enjoyed his articles. I wondered what had happened when I saw a rather curt 'Goodbye and Good Luck' on the Editorial in this months issue.

Glad to see your talents have been recognised Dan and I will look forward to reading your car opinions on a more regular basis now.

9 July 2017
I guess this version might still be worth repairing after BMW leave UK customers high and dry with unreliable engines. Engines who's components are still covered in the USA. Why not in the UK?

Because BMW can get away with it.

14 July 2017

Bad trend.

They should make a lighter M4 with a NA L6.

Poor BMW and M...

 

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