M Di­vi­sion finds its sweet spot4

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG - by GE­ORG KACHER

THE TERM ‘limited edi­tion’ tends to flick a switch within per­for­mance­car buy­ers. Like any car com­pany, BMW aims for profit mar­gins, so it has his­tor­i­cally en­cour­aged its M Di­vi­sion to churn out one sought-af­ter spe­cial edi­tion af­ter an­other. One year af­ter the sold out 368kW/600Nm M4 GTS, BMW is at it again with the gap­fill­ing M4 CS. The plan is to build 3000 Com­pe­ti­tion Sport mod­els, which will be priced to slot be­tween the halo GTS and the Com­pe­ti­tion Pack. So with a $211,610 sticker, is the CS worth the (con­sid­er­able) ex­tra dough?

Few per­for­mance cars are as sexy as this cen­tre­fold coupe sprayed in

San Marino Blue. Al­most ev­ery­thing on this BMW M4 CS is spot on: the classy matte-pewter fin­ish on the

19- and 20-inch wheels shod with 265/35 and 285/30 Miche­lin rub­ber; the re­designed front split­ter, roof, apron and rear spoiler baked in carbon fi­bre; the eye-catch­ing OLED tail-lights; the neatly ex­e­cuted Al­can­tara trim and the light­weight bucket seats. The two-door coupe cer­tainly has pres­ence.

Sig­nalling per­for­mance in­tent from the out­set is the fact that the doors now need to be pulled shut via fabric loops – Jenny Craig deemed the tra­di­tional grab han­dles un­wor­thy of the new CS diet. And given the in­ner skins are pressed from nat­u­ral fi­bres, the door pock­ets have also gone, too. While the 1580kg kerb weight doesn’t scream crash diet, it seems BMW is tak­ing the CS moniker se­ri­ously.

The theme con­tin­ues un­der the bon­net. Redlin­ing at 7600rpm, the 3.0litre straight-six musters 338kW and 600Nm. Ob­jec­tively that’s a mar­ginal 7kW in­crease in power and a plau­si­ble 50Nm bump for torque against the Com­pe­ti­tion Pack. Sub­jec­tively, the dif­fer­ence is harder to de­tect. Ad­mit­tedly there is a lit­tle more shove at high revs and slightly more oomph be­tween 4000 and 5500rpm, but you’d have to drive the two ver­sions backto-back to sub­stan­ti­ate the progress. In terms of the 0-100km/h run, the

CS’s 3.9sec ef­fort matches the likes of a Porsche 911 Car­rera S – which is not bad at all, even if the top speed is gov­erned at 280km/h.

As ever, the twin-turbo six de­liv­ers the goods with aplomb. With ev­ery­thing locked in Sport mode, throt­tle re­sponse is phe­nom­e­nally quick, and the torque wave that fol­lows of­fers V8-es­que ur­gency. On a twisty road, the awe­some grunt keeps the M dif­fer­en­tial busy while work­ing the

Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2 tyres to the point where the DSC flag­man starts wav­ing yel­lows.

No, the M4 CS en­gine does not de­liver power and torque in a dra­matic or ex­plo­sive man­ner quite like a 911 GT3. How­ever, its abil­ity to rev, kick butt and flex its mus­cles from as low as 2000rpm, yet still reach its boost-filled red­line, is im­pres­sive. Acous­ti­cally, the M4 CS isn’t BMW’s best work, how­ever we do like the distinc­tive part-throt­tle turbo whis­tle, the full-bod­ied bass at low revs and the abil­ity to push to the limiter, while in Sport Plus it in­dulges in all man­ner of lift-off fire­work an­tics.

The seven-speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion does some things bet­ter than oth­ers. The fastest of the three shift speeds has the gear­box in at­tack mode, chang­ing ra­tios with ag­gres­sive mo­men­tum – hard and fast. While purists may pre­fer a man­ual, the

DCT shift ac­tion is star­tlingly brisk. How­ever, it does have a ten­dency to roll away on an in­cline be­fore first gear bites.

Like the ’box, the key to hav­ing fun in the CS is by be­ing in the right mode for the steer­ing, sus­pen­sion and driv­e­train. Com­fort, Sport and Sport Plus are avail­able as well as MDM, short for M Dy­namic Mode.

On the road, the M4 Com­pe­ti­tion Pack per­forms like greased light­ning, but it can fall apart on poor roads given its ride is harsh and some­times un­set­tled. As soon as rain falls you can say good­bye to grip. The same can be said for the M4 GTS – de­spite be­ing a sen­sa­tional track tool, it will bite and it’s too sharp to qual­ify as a daily driver. So where does the CS fall in this com­pany? Some­what un­ex­pect­edly, it emerges as the leader of the pack – at least on dry, man­i­cured Bavar­ian roads. An Aussie ver­dict awaits.

Even though the CS chas­sis setup is closely re­lated to the Com­pe­ti­tion vari­ant, it now has proper sus­pen­sion com­pli­ance, ac­cept­able low-speed ride and first-class body con­trol. Its tena­cious road­hold­ing keeps you chortling while the silly amounts of trac­tion make you smile. On a sunny day, the last com­pli­ca­tion the CS needs is all-wheel drive.

The re­dis­cov­ery of a key virtue, com­pli­ance, makes this M4 en­cour­ag­ingly ac­ces­si­ble. Com­pli­ance equals bet­ter sta­bil­ity, more feed­back, su­pe­rior con­trol and en­hanced con­fi­dence. The rear axle, a clas­sic li­a­bil­ity of many M cars, has ma­tured so much that the oc­ca­sional off­putting re­sponses un­der power have all but dis­ap­peared, yet through fast cor­ners the rear wheels can seem to plot dif­fer­ent move­ments. It’s noth­ing se­ri­ous, but as it dances along the edge of ad­he­sion, the CS calls for the odd ad­just­ment on the run.

Equipped with op­tional car­bon­ce­ramic discs and low pro­file tyres, you can keep push­ing the CS’s brak­ing points closer to the apex. How­ever, even when you over­shoot the mark, the fan­tas­tic front-end grip can still reel in the nose just in time. While it lacks ac­tive anti-roll bars and rear­wheel steer­ing, the 338kW 4 Se­ries tracks with ad­mirable pre­ci­sion. In many ways it’s what the M4

should have been from the out­set as it com­bines great looks, am­ple grunt, a sweet chas­sis and gen­er­ous spec­i­fi­ca­tion all in one.

At the end of the day, it’s still the value-for-money equa­tion which stub­bornly dis­torts this pic­ture. There is lit­tle doubt that the CS is the most de­sir­able it­er­a­tion of the range this side of the $294,715 GTS, but is it re­ally worth the pre­mium over the $154,900 Com­ple­tion Pack – not to men­tion the bar­gain-base­ment, Oz-only $139,990 M4 Pure? I think not.

You could fac­tor in the lure of a spe­cial edi­tion, which seems to elim­i­nate de­pre­ci­a­tion de­spite the higher ini­tial out­lay, but we’re talking driv­ing plea­sure here, not re­turn on in­vest­ment. And that’s some­thing the CS has well and truly cov­ered.

There is lit­tle doubt the CS is the most de­sir­able it­er­a­tion of the M4 range, but is it worth the $55K pre­mium?

Uprated S55 en­gine of­fers 338kW and a GTS-match­ing 600Nm without the com­pli­ca­tion of wa­ter in­jec­tion

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