First Drive: Is the BMW M2 CS the ideal everyday sports car?

The M2 CS is a harder, more powerful version of BMW’s much-acclaimed sports car – but how does it move the game forward? Jack Evans finds out.

BMW M2 CS
BMW M2 CS

What is it?

BMW M2 CS
The M2 CS feature squat proportions

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The M2 has been one hell of a firecracker for BMW. The original stole the show with its compact dimensions and punchy straight-six engine, while the M2 Competition only sweetened the deal with more power and a revised suspension setup.

Now, we’ve moved up to the M2 CS, arguably the hardest and angriest of the lot. It’s lighter, more powerful than the Competition, and gets a whole host of features designed to exploit one of the best chassis set-ups around to the fullest. Can it deliver on the UK’s roads? We’ve been to find out.

What’s new?

BMW M2 CS
The CS feels well suited to the UK’s country roads

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Though it may not look like it, quite a lot has been changed to evolve the M2 from Competition-grade up to full-fat CS. So while the car’s compact, punchy proportions might have been retained, there’s a wide use of lightweight materials – the roof and bonnet are now fully carbon-fibre, for example – while the whole car rides on lightweight forged wheels, further shedding bulk.

The engine has been boosted, too – though we’ll get to that shortly – while the brakes draw knowledge earnt from BMW’s motorsport experience to provide real stopping performance. It equates to a car which has been dialled right the way up to 11.

What’s under the bonnet?

BMW M2 CS
The turbocharged 3.0-litre engine pushes out 444bhp

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Underneath the M2’s even snoutier bonnet sits the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine, which has been tweaked to the sound of 444bhp, up from the 404bhp you’d get from the Competition. Power drives to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but our car was fitted with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic ‘box. Though accompanied by a £2,645 price tag, this does shave the CS’ 0-60mph down to just under four seconds. Its top speed stands at an impressive 174mph.

When it comes to fuel economy, BMW claims 29.4-30.1mpg – a slight improvement on the manual car’s figures of between 27.2-27.7mpg – while CO2 emissions stand at 219-214g/km.

What’s it like to drive?

BMW M2 CS
A quad exhaust system gives the M2 plenty of character

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Here’s where things get really serious: how does the M2 CS feel from behind the wheel? To begin with, things are excellent. The seating position is spot on with plenty of adjustment and you can get nice and low in the car too.

Moving off, the ride is firm but not uncomfortably so, while the engine resonates with a distant hum – initially at least.

Add some pace into the mix and the M2 awakens with thunderous rapture. The much-tweaked engine delivers performance in spades and loves to be revved out, coming alive towards the top of the rev limit. The seven-speed gearbox responds well to shifts via the wheel-mounted paddles too, allowing you to gain more of a connection with what’s going on underneath you.

Then there’s the grip, which is only topped by the car’s inherent balance which allows you to lean into and enjoy every corner. The steering, too, is excellent thanks to plenty of weight and a good degree of precision too.

How does it look?

BMW M2 CS
A small spoiler sits at the rear of the car

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The M2 CS is arguably one of the best-executed designs we’ve seen from BMW in recent years. It’s punchy and wide-arched, bringing a real sense of presence despite its relatively compact proportions. The bonnet scoop helps to differentiate it from the rest of the M2 models we’ve seen, giving a clear indication that this is something slightly more.

Of course, looks are down to the individual, but the short, stubby wheelbase helps the M2 CS to look particularly good next to the other – and much larger – sports car rivals it goes up against. Around the back, the quad exhaust outlets and subtle spoiler give a clear indication of the car’s performance without overdoing it.

What’s it like inside?

BMW M2 CS
The M2’s cabin is centred around the driver

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The M2 CS takes the cabin that you’d find in the regular M2 and takes things up a bit. Of course, lightness reigns supreme here too, which is why the entire centre console has been crafted from carbon fibre, bringing down the weight by 50 per cent over the regular component.

There are huge bucket seats with red contrast stitching and, while providing plenty of support, also look the part and carry on the focused feeling which plays a key role in the car’s overall setup. The Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel also gets a red centre marker at the 12 o’clock spot, just as you’d find on a full-fat racing car.

Given that the CS is still based around the regular M2, you do get a useable boot, with 390 litres to play with. It means that you’re not having to forsake practicality in order to get performance.

What’s the spec like?

BMW M2 CS
Lightweight elements feature throughout the cabin

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Prices for the M2 CS start from £75,320, and for that, you really are paying for the wealth of mechanical upgrades which have been applied across the board. That said, you still get plenty of features included as part of the car’s standard specification including adaptive LED headlights, an upgraded harman/kardon sound system and a central infotainment system which also offers Apple CarPlay.

The thing is, though the car’s list of standard equipment might not be exhaustive, it’s hard to feel short-changed given how capable the M2 CS is. This is a focused car and, as a result, the price tag is focused around making the M2 CS as quick and as driver-involved as possible.

Verdict

It was a hard task for BMW to take the M2 Competition and make it even better, but somehow it has done that with the new CS. It’s involving, exhilarating and truly polished, offering a driving experience that few will fail to enjoy.

Thanks to a well-sized boot it’s practical too, while refined on-road manners mean that it’s easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. As a car to put a smile on your face whatever the driving situation, the M2 CS really is hard to beat.

  • Model: BMW M2 CS
  • Base price: £72,600
  • Model as tested: M2 CS
  • Price: £83,260
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder
  • Power: 444bhp
  • Torque: 550Nm
  • Max speed: 174mph
  • 0-60mph: 3.8 seconds
  • MPG: 30.7-31.4
  • Emissions: 221g/km CO2
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