First Drive – BMW M4 CS on Track

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It’s not every day you get to drive a brand new BMW M4 variant on track, let alone three variants back to back.  So when launching the BMW M4 CS – short for Competition Sport – at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand, South Africa at the first BMW M Festival, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to drive the CS back to back with the M4 DTM Champion Edition and M4 Competition Pack.  What better way to evaluate a new M4 than against its peers?


What is the BMW M4 CS?


The CS suffix on the BMW M4 CS dates back to the late 1960s when BMW developed more powerful models of the E9, the car that later evolved into the 3.0 CSL – known as the Batmobile.  The CSL moniker resurfaced numerous times throughout the years, most notably on the E46 M3 CSL.  The L stands for lightweight, though, something that hasn’t been a focus in the development of the BMW M4 CS.


The M4 CS slots between the M4 Competition Pack (331kW, 550Nm) and the track focused, ultra limited edition BMW M4 GTS (368kW, 600Nm).  Though not limited in numbers, the BMW M4 CS will be limited to a production run of just 2 years, and may signal the last incarnation of the F82 BMW M4.


The BMW M4 CS increases power and torque outputs compared to the M4 Competition Package, with power taking a bump of 7kW to 338kW @ 6250 r/min, while torque matches the GTS’s 600Nm, available between 4000- and 5380 r/min.  The M4 CS remains rear-wheel driven and utilises the same 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) as the Competition Pack, whilst the M adaptive suspension is standard.


This enables the M4 CS to sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds.  The M4 CS features the M Driver’s Package as standard, raising the top speed to an electronically limited 280km/h.  The M4 CS officially lapped the Nurburgring Nordschleife in a time of 7 minutes, 38 seconds.


The BMW M4 CS features a bare carbon fibre front splitter, and rear gurney spoiler, as well as a carbon bonnet and roof, and a mode-specific rear diffuser.  Lightweight 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels are shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semi-slick tyres.  Two stunning colours are available for the M4 CS – San Marino Blue metallic, and Lime Rock Grey Metallic.


Inside, the M4 CS boasts lightweight M sport bucket seats, trimmed in a combination of leather and Alcantara.  The lightweight door panels are manufactured from compressed natural fibres and feature lightweight pull loops for closing.  The Alcantara treatment continues across the dash and centre console, and upon the former you’ll find the CS moniker standing proudly.


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M4 CS Driven on Track…


Our time was limited with the M4 CS due to time constraints at the media day of the BMW M Festival.  As such, we were afforded just two laps to get to grips with the CS.


The standard M4 has been criticised for not being wholly developed – with many citing the Competition Pack as the resolution to its problems.  Using the Competition Pack as its basis, the M4 CS features revised tuning to the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and active M Differential.  The revised DSC allows for a little more slip than usual, which is countered by the sticky rubber.


Over the course of the four and a half kilometre long circuit, it’s apparent that the rear end feels slightly more nervous than the M4 Competition Pack under braking.  The rear differential is also far more active both in and out of corners.  It’s easier to provoke oversteer in this, and the DSC allows a little bit of it too.  Does it feel that much more precise or agile than the Competition Pack?  I’m not so sure it does.


The front end feels positive and grippy – and the electromechanical steering is precise and quick to respond – if lacking a little in feel.  But mechanical grip is high – no doubt the sticky rubber making a marked difference through corners and allowing a bit of extra pace.  You’ll feel the difference in cornering speed more than you will the outright performance from the extra 7kW on tap – a negligible difference in the realm of 330kW+ sports coupes.  However the additional 50Nm of torque is noticeable, particularly through corners where you can ride through a gear higher than the Competition Pack.  It’s not a massive difference, but it is present and track aficionados will likely enjoy the extra bit of twist.


How much, and how many?


BMW South Africa has managed to secure just 60 units of the BMW M4 CS.  It’s priced at more than R400 000 more than the M4 Competition Package, with the base price set at R1 838 500.  Is it R400k better than an M4 Comp?  Probably not.  But it’s a gorgeous limited edition model, and for those who can afford it, the exclusivity alone might be well worth the extra.  To those who can afford it, the price really won’t matter much.


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