Double Apex was invited to drive the latest M car to land in SA. In our piece BMW M2 CS driven we give you an idea of what the newcomer is like to experience from behind the wheel.
DAMMIT! I think I’ve stayed on the gas a fraction too long, maybe a 10th or a quarter of a second but at speeds approaching 220 km/h that translates to quite a distance. As I smash the whoa pedal I am pretty sure that I have carried too much speed before negotiating Kyalami’s slow left-hander that is Turn 1, and getting to the apex is far from my mind, slowing the car enough is paramount. But then something interesting happens.
The (optional) carbon-ceramic brakes force the Michelin rubber into the surface, each wheel clawing the tar to shed speed. The speedo needle falls rapidly and I start to rotate my head so my eyes can lock onto the inside kerb, maybe, just maybe the left front wheel can give it a gentle kiss. I start to bleed off the clamps and turn the chunky steering wheel anti-clockwise. Lo and behold the front end bites, and hard. The rear axle follows diligently and before I know it, we’re ramping two wheels over that kerb and pointing up the road, with a hint of oppostite lock thrown in for effect… WOW! And that is my first impression of the BMW M2 CS. Colour me i-M-pressed (sorry, I couldn’t resist). But let’s rewind for a moment…
The low down
If you aren’t a bona fide propeller head (as BMW nutters are sometimes called) or performance car fan then the BMW M2 CS may not be familiar to you. As the lifecycle of the current BMW 2 Series Coupe range draws to a close BMW decided to give it one last hurrah with a pared back, power-up performance halo derivative. Just 2 200 were built and 30 will reside in SA, 20 of which have already been sold and the remaining nine will go to selected BMW dealers. BMW SA plans to keep one for its own collection.
Starting point for the exercise is the highly-lauded M2 Competition. M Division wound up the wick and the M2 CS develops a more-than-healthy 331 kW (29 kW up) along with 550 N.m of torque from the twin-turbocharged inline six. The latter figure may be unchanged from the M2 Competition but it is available over a wider plateau than before.
Purists will be happy to note that you can have the motor mated with a six-speed manual transmission, while a seven-speed, self-shifting DCT is an option. If you really need to know, the automatic M2 CS will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4,0 seconds while the manual version is 2/10ths slower. Top speed is electronically limited to 280 km/h.
Light and focussed
More important than the power upgrade is the diet the BMW M2 CS has been on. The end result is a lower mass, but also a lowering of the car’s centre of gravity. Carbon-fibre has been used liberally across the car; including the roof, interior trim, front splitter and rear spoiler. The bonnet is also made from the lightweight stuff and boasts a gaping air vent. Under the bonnet is the same carbon strut brace as used in an M4. Other unique touches that set the model apart from lesser-powered siblings are the lightweight forged alloys and CF mirror caps.
How does it go?
The BMW M2 CS launch event was held at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. It’s always a bit of a gamble taking a group of gung-ho journos to a racetrack, let alone one as fast and flowing as Kyalami, but BMW was keen to paint its new creation in the best possible light. From the get-go the inline-six is quite familiar with its rather anodyne soundtrack, even the DCT transmission is familiar to use and in its responses. That is to say that the 331 kW/550 N.m feel suitably quick in a coupe that is a shade over 1 500 kg. It can pile on speed between the corners in a way that makes you grateful for the massive carbon-ceramic discs and multi-piston calipers (six up front/four rear). And there’ll be no discernible loss of power at altitude over sea level.
But, the real fun starts once you attack the twisty bits. Kyalami’s front straight whooshes by and I found myself arriving into T1 (as described in the intro) a tad faster than anticipated. But once we were through T1 the M2 CS really had my attention for all the right reasons. The front end on this car is mega. I don’t know what the camber settings are (none of the spec sheets divulges such granular detail) but I’ll bet it’s racecar-esque. The front tyres are simply unwilling to budge from a chosen line.
We’ll put that down to the stiffer damper rates as well as the uprated Michelin tyres, though the car we drove didn’t have the more aggressive Cup 2s on, which must be even more impressive. The rear end says neatly in line, the nearly four-square stance staying planted thanks to 10-inch wide rear rims shod with 265 mm-wide footwear.
Rapid across the board
Through the slower corners you can really attack with confidence, pick a line and you know the car will respond faithfully to the instructions sent through the (somewhat lifeless) helm. The recalibrated Active M differential is fast-acting and will allow you steer the rear axle with your right foot if you are inclined. Slides are well-telegraphed, progressive and easily gathered up.
Slow corners are a hoot but the poise doesn’t dissipate as speed rises. Faster corners such as Sunset at Kyalami the M2 CS can take with alarming speed and just an hint of neutral drift when you really ramp up the speed. Fast direction changes such as the Esses once again highlight the front end’s obedience to steering input and unwillingness to leave the driver’s chosen line.
The rest of the lap exposes no flaw that my level of driving skill can unearth. Grip levels are high and mid-corner speeds are purely a function of bravery. Ramping over kerbs and riding out the ensuing slides are addictive and I am really pleased that my driving instructor is letting me get away with such hoolig… err, allowing this very technical exploration of the car’s limits.
The BMW M2 CS is an extremely impressive machine, of that there is no doubt. We’ve yet to experience the Porsche Cayman GT4, so we’ll reserve judgement in terms of how the BMW stacks up against its natural rival. Performance in a straight line is suitably and comparatively quick but its the way the M2 CS attacks corners that is it’s real party trick. I cannot recall steering many front-engined cars (with a number plate) that turn-in and resist understeer the way the M2 CS does. For one fleeting moment I recalled a memorable drive in an M4 GTS, which also feels like a racetrack refugee.
The BMW M2 CS is a clear indication of what the speed merchants from M are capable of when let off the leash. Sadly, this car maybe the last of its breed as the brand (and the world) embraces hybridisation and electrification. As far as a last hurrah for a performance coupe goes, the M2 CS is a brilliant way for the 2 Series to exit. This is quite likely the last of its kind from M, too. I just hope that the 29 lucky owners in SA really do drive their M2 CSs as intended and don’t pickle them for investment value because that would be a real shame.