A new car now sits between the standard M4 and the M4 GTS – and it might be better than both of them
Up to now, if you’ve wanted something similar to, but a bit more special than, the regular £58,365 BMW M4 or the £3,000 dearer M4 Competition Package, you’ve had to lay out an extra £60k-plus for the stratospherically expensive limited edition M4 GTS.
That‘s just changed with the arrival of the gap-plugging £89,130 M4 CS. BMW attributes some of that still-hefty £30-grand price hike to the use of some esoteric lightweight GTS parts, but in reality the only bits you’re inheriting from the track-focused model are its carbonfibre bonnet, diffuser, diet door skins and its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. You don’t get the GTS’s water injection system or its shmancy-pants driver-adjustable suspension.
BMW M4 CS
Engine: 3.0-litre. six-cylinder in-line, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Gearbox: Seven-speed twin-clutch
Top speed: 174mph
You do get a revised version of the standard M4’s adaptive damping system, and a 10bhp boost over the M4 Competition Package’s peak power output courtesy of new engine management software. You also get a CS-unique carbonfibre rear lip spoiler and front splitter. BMW reckons the CS trims 35kg off the weight of a normal twin-clutch gearbox M4.
We’ve already tried a CS on German roads, but this was our first chance to try it over here on rather more challenging UK roads.
The CS is a bit curate’s egg: good in parts. Its most frustrating aspect is its everyday usability. There’s no storage or speakers in those doors, the angled elbow rest is next to useless and there’s no central armrest. These may seem like minor quibbles, but together they amount to a big negative difference between the CS and the considerably more affordable standard M4.
Thankfully, apart from the too-fat suede-trimmed steering wheel and the lumbar-unsupportive seats, the rest of the CS package is excellent. The adaptive suspension has been tweaked to maximise the talents of those Cup 2 tyres. Although the chassis isn’t much stiffer than the regular M4’s, the greater immediacy of its response and the sharpness of the steering are noticeable in the first few seconds behind the wheel.
On a smooth road, the CS is fantastic. On a bumpier one it’s just a whisker short of too stiff, with just enough compliance to keep the tyres earthbound. Body control is the biggest plus though, with none of the early M4’s tendency to lose control of its back axle. That trait made it a nervy drive. BMW has worked on that as every new model year comes around, and the CS has the best resolved chassis of any M4 – or indeed any M car in recent history. There’s huge grip from those Cup 2 tyres, no understeer at all, and tons of traction in the dry. Damp roads would be a different matter, but owners can specify a less extreme tyre.
The twin-turbo engine isn’t overburdened with aural character, but the acceleration through second, third and fourth is rampant. Throttle response is reasonable for a turbo motor, and the DCT twin-clutch autobox is snappy enough in manual mode, but the Audi and Porsche alternatives are better. There’s no manual gearbox option.
For everyday motoring, you’d struggle to justify an M4 CS over the M4 Competition Package, especially as the CS isn’t a limited-series model. BMW aims to build 2,000 or so over the next two years, so there’s unlikely to be an appreciation premium.
But if you’re happy to restrict yourself to a pure driving experience, with few thoughts of practicality, it’s easy to characterise the M4 CS as the most accomplished driver’s car in BMW’s M division.