Recipe for great­ness ham­pered by miss­ing in­gre­di­ents


WHEN YOU look at the num­bers, it’s a bit hard to see how the M4 CS fin­ished so far down the or­der. I mean, its lap times are up there at the very sharp end, the stand­ing-start stuff is epic and its brakes are noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal – while they last, at least.

But for all that, it never re­ally wants to give you as much on the track as some of its peers. And while work­ing for it is one thing, the BMW was just a bit too mute. On the other hand, Reynolds loved the thing in­stantly, sug­gest­ing that his honed reactions and per­cep­tions were sim­ply bet­ter tuned to the sub­tle way the CS tele­graphs its re­sponses. Either way, you’ve got to re­spect the thing for the in­stant torque it gen­er­ates from just three litres, and the DCT trans­mis­sion is ur­gent and no-non­sense.

My PCOTY started with me not re­ally lik­ing the CS’s Win­ton man­ners, moved through a growing ad­mi­ra­tion for its on-road pur­pose and fin­ished with me tak­ing the M4 back to Mel­bourne the back way, over the mountains and through the for­est.

It’s a route I use all the time and I must have driven it hun­dreds of times be­fore. Point is, I reckon the CS was as fast point-to-point as any­thing else I’ve ever punted over the same road. Part of that is the things that make it boo­gie from rest, but an equally im­por­tant part is that it’s so good at main­tain­ing velocity that you don’t have to drive it like a lu­natic to main­tain a good av­er­age pace.

Un­for­tu­nately, its road-car cre­den­tials are blunted some­what by some truly bizarre fit­ments and omis­sions. Let’s start with the air-con. Now, I know weight is crit­i­cal but c’mon… is sin­gle-zone air go­ing to make any dis­cernible dif­fer­ence? Then there’s the lack of any­thing re­motely re­sem­bling a cup-holder. True, I know race­cars don’t have cup-hold­ers, but the CS re­mains a car for the road first and fore­most and be­ing able to drive to your track day without hav­ing to jug­gle a half-strength soy latte be­cause there are no cup-hold­ers would be nice.

And then there are those ridicu­lous door-pull straps in­stead of con­ven­tional door pulls. Okay, so they save 50 grams apiece (maybe), but they’re mounted right in near the door hinge, giv­ing you sweet bug­ger­all lever­age for slam­ming the door. And there’s still con­ven­tional han­dles! I also strug­gle with the ma­te­rial used for the door trims. Yes, it’s very light­weight, but it looks and feels like re­cy­cled Mac­cas trays.

Nit pick­ing? Not re­ally – not when these odd pack­ag­ing de­ci­sions com­pro­mise the whole car for so lit­tle gain. So we’ll stand by the vot­ing process that saw the fourth-quick­est, fourth-fastest and fourth­track­i­est car come home seventh.

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