The BMW M2 CS is the swansong for the 'F22' 2 Series Coupe and ensures it goes out with a big bang. With enhancements inspired by BMW's motorsport division and a healthy dose of performance upgrades, this is shaping up to be one of the most memorable M cars of all time.
In the metal
The BMW M2 has been a favourite of ours since its inception. For the CS there's a more aggressive look, most notably thanks to the addition of a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet that features additional vents. As well as looking ace it weighs only half that of the standard bonnet. Meanwhile, an extended carbon fibre splitter juts out from the origami-like lower bumper carried over from the M2 Competition.
Additional elements include carbon fibre door mirrors, roof and Gurney spoiler on the boot lid. The CS retains the M division's characteristic quad-exhaust pipe arrangement and complements it with a detailed carbon fibre diffuser. Behind the 19-inch alloy wheels on our test car were some dinner plate sized carbon ceramic brake discs, measuring 400mm and gripped by six-piston gold-coloured calipers up front, while the rear gets almost as large 380mm at the back. These save 22kg. This car also had the driver's package that bumps the top speed up to 280km/h and adds Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, measuring in 235/45 R19 on the front and 265/35 at the rear.
It's just as impressive under the skin. Lift the lightweight bonnet and you'll find the same CFRP strut brace as in the M2 Competition. Tipping the scales at only 1.5kg, this single-piece unit is claimed to add significantly to the torsional stiffness at the front end. Both axles are of aluminium construction, as are the control arms for the multilink rear, while the steel rear subframe is hard-mounted to the body.
The interior looks and feels pretty special too, and seeing a manual gear lever sticking up from the carbon fibre-clad centre console makes it that bit better. Next to the shifter is a line of buttons for the traction control, engine, suspension and steering modes. Other unique elements for the cabin include an Alcantara panel on the dashboard fascia that has a debossed CS logo with red backing. A chunky, round steering wheel uses the same technique for the twelve o'clock marker, and the spokes carry two M buttons along with cruise control and volume functions. The embellishments of more exotic materials around the cabin lift it above the standard M2 and makes it feel that bit more special.
Across a multitude of levels, the M2 CS impresses. From the weighting of the clutch pedal and feel of the gear shifter as you wiggle it from left to right across neutral before pressing the red engine start button, to the purposeful fast tempo of the engine on cold start that soon settles to a boomy hum. Those with a large garage are especially lucky to experience this every morning.
The straight-six engine is part of the genuine M-car experience, and it is nothing short of incredible in this application. Output takes a 40hp jump to 450hp, arriving 1,000 revs higher than before at 6,250rpm. The peak torque figure is unchanged from the M2 Competition, at 550Nm, but is available over a broader band, while the 0-100km/h time for the manual model matches that of the automatic Competition at 4.2 seconds. You can have your M2 CS with the seven-speed dual-clutch M DCT automatic gearbox, a peach in its own right, and that brings the 0-100km/h dash down to four seconds dead. However, the manual is the one to have for the added involvement, even if some consider it less practical as a daily driver.
Having that chunk of torque so freely available does bring a more relaxed driving experience when you desire it and the addition of adaptive dampers - one of the things sadly missing in the original M2 - help to give the CS a softer and more usable side. The further ability to choose from three engine and steering modes complements this, but quite why you'd need three settings for the power steering is beyond me. The Alcantara-trimmed wheel is perfectly sized and feels oh so good in your hands. It's somewhat refreshing that BMW M persists with a round wheel, which sounds like an odd statement, but in a world where flat-bottomed and squared-off steering wheels are becoming the norm, there's a sense of reduction in how the BMW's cabin is. The driving position feels spot-on and the manual gearchange has a beautiful mechanical feel to its action.
As you roll into a bend, clutch and pull the stubby shifter from third to the left and down into second, the engine auto-blips to rev-match. Clip the apex and give it the beans as you open up the steering and an intoxicating blend of hard induction noise and combustion resonates through the cabin. Re-engaging third and with the taps fully open a sonorous tone builds as steeply as the speed. Snatch fourth gear as quickly as you like, the BMW's rear end remains squat as it devours tarmac at an addictive rate.
The CS delivers a settled and predictable ride through fast sweeping bends that lets you get on with enjoying the sound and feel of it. It's an enveloping experience of engine sound and feedback through the wheel, and with the added connection of shifting up and down the gearbox by hand, it perfectly demonstrates what driving pleasure is all about. While it's not shy about building up a head of speed, it's equally rapid at scrubbing it off: the feel and modulation of the brake pedal are exceptionally well judged.
Size is another key element to what makes the M2 CS so enjoyable to drive. It is a bantamweight in comparison to the current BMW M4 and it's so much easier to exploit more of that 450hp as a result.
What you get for your money
Lining the M2 CS up against the M2 Competition makes it hard to justify the extra €36,075. Discounting the tasty carbon bits, that's still the guts of €900 per extra horsepower. If you want the automatic, the price increases to €125,010. Being built on the slightly older BMW architecture means that it doesn't get the latest gadgets and displays inside either, though keener drivers aren't as likely to care about that.
There's no doubt that the BMW M2 CS is a special car, and to the real enthusiasts, there's so much to like about it. Every aspect of the experience of driving it is heightened and that, along with its rarity, guarantees its place as one of the special BMW M cars. But when you stop and look at what lies ahead, the M2 CS suddenly becomes something much more. You are looking at what could very well be the last truly great BMW M car.