There’s a sense of finality to the BMW M2 CS. It uses an engine on the cusp of being killed off, has a fairly simplistic previous-gen interior, and it might just end up being the last properly handsome car BMW ever makes, such is the company’s new obsession with shock value over traditional good looks.
The overriding feeling when first setting off, then, ought to be sadness. Instead, though, the main theme is one of familiarity - it feels an awful lot like an M2 Competition.
Dig deeper, and the changes do start to make themselves apparent. The big one is the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s that wrap the new forged wheels. On a shorter brisk drive the CS doesn’t feel much more planted than a Comp, but warm them up, and there’s a noticeable improvement in lateral grip.
There’s more bite in the front end and more life in the steering. Switch to MDM mode - which puts the ESP in ‘Sport’ - and it is still possible, and easy, to get things moving at the rear. Even with the electronic stuff only partially disengaged, a lot of slip is allowed. Want to switch things off entirely? Make sure you’re paying attention unless you want to explain to that farmer why you’re parked in his barley field - when the CS lets go, it does so rather quickly.
There’s a noticeable uplift in straight-line performance, with the S55 finally uncorked to produce 444bhp (40bhp more than the M2 Comp), just as it does in an M4 Competition. 0-62mph now happens in 3.8 seconds, or four seconds dead if you opt for the six-speed manual.
With such a meaty mid-range, you don’t really need to rev it out. Should you do so, it’ll feel strong all the way up to the 7000rpm redline, unlike the N55 six in the original M2, which felt limp over 6500. The noise made by the S55 has always been a contentious issue, but you can’t argue with its raw aggression - we’ll miss it when it’s gone, mark my words.
When it’s time to change gear, the manual shift underwhelms - the ‘box is notchy and rubbery. The pedal spacing isn’t brilliant, with a high brake pedal making heel and toe fun difficult. Not that you’ll be doing any of that without switching all the electronic stuff off - there’s no other way of ditching the auto rev-matching system.
Next up, there are the adaptive dampers to consider - these haven’t even been on the options list since the M2 was introduced a few years ago, but they’re fitted as standard here. A pogo-stick-like, permanently unsettled ride has been an M2 bugbear from the start, and the new shocks almost solve the issue, but not quite - whether they’re set to Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus, the CS lacks damping fineness.
Speaking of modes, there are also three settings for the engine, three for the steering and three for the ESP. Sounds complex, but it’s quickly clear the optimum combination of the 64 available is Sport Plus engine, Sport steering (Sport Plus is way too heavy), Sport dampers and MDM/ESP Sport. Or maybe it’s better with Comfort for the steering and suspension. As Geralt of Rivia might note, hmm.
The final piece of the CS puzzle (well, pieces) is something you’re not going to feel the effects of at road speeds - the aero kit. There’s a vented bonnet, a new splitter with winglets and a boot spoiler, all made from carbon fibre. Even if the increase in downforce isn’t something you’ll feel day to day, what you will be able to enjoy is the way they make the M2 CS look.
All of this comes together to make the CS one of the most exciting coupes on sale today. It somehow feels like an old-school bruiser despite being chock full of tech like adaptive suspension and its electronically-controlled differential. But here’s the thing - you can say all of that about the M2 Competition, a car which is around £22,000 cheaper.
Yep, BMW is charging £75,000 for this, which is Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 money for something which - while admittedly brilliant and packing two extra seats - is no Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. It’s no Cayman GTS either.
You have to be really on board with the limited-run nature of the CS, and/or the trinkets like the carbon stuff and the forged wheels. While the shift from the original M2 to the M2 Competition was a huge leap thanks to the engine swap, the gap between the latter and this CS is smaller. The improvements are noticeable, but a night and day difference it is not.
Depending on where you live, it might be a moot point. In the UK, the CS - limited to 2200 units worldwide - is already sold out. But if you were eying one up and missed the boat, don’t be sad - you could get a Competition, sling it on Cup 2s, and have something 95 per cent as good for a whole lot less. Because that’s the main thing the CS achieves - it’s a reminder of how damn good the M2 Competition is as a starting point.