BMW has built a lot of hype around the M4 CS and it’s finally here. The German car maker promises a track-day weapon with a civil ride that’s yet another variation in the growing M range.
The CS marks the return of a famous badge the M family which will be joined by the legendary CSL title as the GTS is replaced. But with the hot-to-trot GTS sold-out and no CSL on the cards yet, the CS is as good as it gets right now.
Compared with the M4 Competition, this CS is lighter, more powerful, has recalibrated steering and re-tuned suspension. It might not be as quick as the GTS, but it should be easier to live with.
Vehicle Style: Premium sports coupe
Price: $211,610 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 338kW/600Nm 3.0 6cyl petrol | 7spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.4 l/100km
The M4 CS benefits from the latest 4-Series LCI update that sees the headlights and taillights lightly redesigned. It’s further distinguished by gloss black accents on the kidney grille, body trims and black exhaust tips.
The CS doesn’t come cheap and at $211,610 (plus on-road costs), or $54,900 more than the M4 Competition, it probably seems expensive. But still, it’s a fair sight cheaper than the eye-watering $294,900 M4 GTS.
Justifying some of the cost are parts borrowed from the GTS, including its carbon fibre ‘powerdome’ bonnet with a flow-through air intake to increase downforce. Also at the front is a unique carbon fibre front splitter and around back is more carbon fibre on the boot lip ‘Gurney’ spoiler and rear diffuser. Like the Competition and GTS, it features a carbon fibre roof.
Inside, the door panels have been replaced with compressed fibre composite, M coloured nylon door pulls and more bits from the GTS including the centre console and Alcantara steering wheel. It isn’t as hard-core inside as the top dog and misses out on the roll cage, fire extinguisher and bucket seats, instead opting for the normal M4 seating arrangement which is far more practical.
Power is provided from a modified version of the M4’s twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine that produces 338kW at 6250rpm and 600Nm of torque between 4000rpm and 5380rpm; an extra 7kW and 50Nm over the Competition spec. Compared to the GTS, it’s 30kW less powerful but produces the same amount of torque.
The CS is further blessed with adaptive M suspension, electronic differential, retuned stability control and electronic steering, and comes standard with unique lightweight 10-spoke 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels. Wrapped around the wheels are 265/35 front and 285/30 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
Behind the alloys are the M4 Competition’s standard steel disc brakes although six-piston front and four-piston rear carbon-ceramic brakes can be fitted as a $15,000 cost-option.
Unique CS badges and plenty of Alcantara are the CS’ interior trademark. There’s Alcantara over the arm rests, seats, dash and centre console. It’s also applied to the steering wheel with red and blue M theme stitching and a 12 o’clock marker. Compared to the standard leather wheel (which can be optioned), the Alcantara clad wheel feels nicer in the hands.
The door cards are made from Walknappa leather and compacted ‘Nawaro’ natural fibres – apparently where plenty of the weight saving is made - and the lightweight panels are also used in the rear. Yanking on the nylon pull cords to shut the door provides some of the GTS’ trackday bravado.
Further weight reduction comes from single-zone rather than dual-zone climate control and a 12-speaker rather than premium 16-speaker sound system.
The CS gets the standard M4 seats with added M stripes that offer plenty of support and comfort. The driver’s seat also drops nice and low and, in conjunction with the manual tilt and reach adjustable steering, a perfectly focused driving position can be set.
Two M buttons mounted on the steering wheel set individual mode settings which is a quick way to change vehicle setup when road surface changes. Settings for the suspension, engine and steering can be delved into and set into either comfort, sport or sport plus.
The M4 CS features the latest iDrive 6 infotainment system which is displayed on a glossy 8.0-inch screen. While being easy to use and offering smart phone connectivity, Apple CarPlay can be optioned but Android Auto is not available.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine:338kW/600Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol
- Transmission:Seven-speed automatic dual-clutch, rear wheel drive
- Suspension:Double wishbone front, multi-link rear w/adaptive dampers
- Steering:Electric power steering
Our test drive was limited to the recently resurfaced Winton Raceway and we weren’t able to do any on-road evaluation. But it’s probably fair to say that most M4 CS buyers will be more interested in the track drive anyway.
We also had an opportunity to test latest M3 Pure model - which gets the best performance parts from the Competition spec - back-to-back with the CS. The Pure model performs as well as you’d expect an M car to go on a track but the additions (and removals) in the CS are noticeable.
The CS powers out of corners with much more shove and there’s plenty more herbs on offer. Braking was stronger and cornering was faster. Undoubtedly the lower weight and more powerful engine make a difference, and the carbon-ceramic brakes are epic.
By contrast the re-calibrated steering does not feel particularly different to the stock M4 and shares its lack of feedback and filtered road feel. However, turn-in is fast and the steering responds quickly to input. Moving from ‘sport’ to ‘sport plus’, the steering weight increases its resistance but doesn’t feel overly artificial.
Cornering is another highlight of the CS thanks to its firm re-tuned suspension. It rides flatter through tight corners and opposing bends and the nose is less nervous under braking because of it, resulting in improved driver confidence setting up on the right line. Combined with noticeably quicker acceleration out of corners, the CS is well-poised as a track day weapon. But the adaptive suspension should allow some forgiveness around town and on country roads – however we can’t test that just yet.
The extra 50Nm of torque is dialled up early enough in the rev range, so there’s a bit of wiggle exiting corners but it’s predictable. There is no doubt it feels quicker than the standard M3/M4 duo and its 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds sounds accurate.
The $15,000 cost-option carbon-ceramic disc brakes provide huge stopping power and are a logical box to tick if track days are going to happen. It’s just a pity they aren’t standard at this price. They can be optioned on other M4 variants too and last longer than the standard steel discs.
Pleasing the ears is a deep-throated six-cylinder soundtrack that picks up plenty of crackles and pops on overrun. Opting for the M Performance Accessories titanium exhaust would only add more aural pleasure but it’s still meaty down low.
ANCAP Rating: The BMW M4 CS has yet to be rated by ANCAP
Safety Features: The M4 CS is equipped with airbags (dual front, side and window), electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, tyre pressure monitoring, rear park sensors, and a rear view camera.
After a number of runs around the track, the M4 CS feels predictable to drive quickly and is undoubtedly the most focused M4 since the unbearable-on-the-road M4 GTS. But it's hard to say if it will fare well on rougher roads.
On the smooth track, the CS’ suspension was firm with just a little forgiveness in comfort mode but the trade-off is super stable cornering and a confidence inspiring chassis. It benefits from the carbon-ceramic disc brakes and could be enhanced even further, but adding too many options would see the $211,610 CS approach the cost of the (no-longer available) GTS.
Although pricey, the M4 CS proves its position at the top of the M4 tree, at least until the next GTS/CSL arrives.