The new BMW M2 CS is the brand’s best performance car.
If you don’t believe us, ask Markus Flasch, chief executive of the M Division responsible for BMW’s sharpest vehicles.
“If I could buy one M car it would probably by an M2 CS with a manual stick shift,” he said at the launch of BMW’s more expensive M3 and M4 duo.
“For me it is my absolute favourite product.”
Smaller, lighter and more engaging than the bigger M3 and M4 duo — let alone the hulking two-tonne M5 sedan or X5M SUV — the compact BMW M2 was an instant hit when it landed in 2016.
From its muscular looks to a punchy inline six-cylinder turbo engine, the option of a manual or automatic transmission and driver-focused rear-wheel-drive layout, the original M2 sealed the deal with a sub-$90,000 price tag as the cheapest M-car yet.
So the lighter, faster BMW M2 CS promises to be something quite special.
Powered by a stronger version of BMW’s 3.0-litre six, the new machine has 331kW and 550Nm — some 59kW and 85Nm more than the original.
A carbon fibre roof and bonnet help reduce weight, while a strut brace and bootlip wing help with high-speed handling.
Lightweight 19-inch wheels wrapped in track-ready Michelin tyres add to its appeal, as do beefed-up brakes with red calipers.
Bucket sports seats offer much more support than the original M2’s chairs and an Alcantara steering wheel contributes to its race-ready atmosphere. The circuit-ready theme is no accident — BMW says the car represents a joint effort between its road car and racing departments, helped by lessons learned from endurance racing around the world.
It’s here that we need to point out the catch — a $139,900 asking price, a fair whack more than the standard BMW M2 Competition.
There are easier, more complete cars to live with. But few are as fun to drive, as a few fast laps of Phillip Island revealed.
It sounds rich under load and builds pace with the sort of effortless athleticism usually restricted to supercars.
Weighing in almost 200 kilos lighter than the new M3, the little coupe doubles down with much grippier rubber and more front-end bite than any BMW in recent memory. The snappy seven-speed dual-clutch auto feels at home on circuit, and manual fans will delight in the opportunity to interact directly with the gearbox.
Precious few performance cars combine a mighty engine with rear-drive traction and the option of a manual transmission. That recipe is almost an anachronism, one likely to become rarer still as electric cars and increasingly strict emissions rules take hold.
The M2 CS isn’t saddled with a mild hybrid system, swathes of driver aids or the need to chase frugal emissions or a fleet-friendly safety rating. It even has a conventional analog speedo and tacho.
This car could represent the end of BMW’s analog era. Australian enthusiasts have taken note and the 86 examples headed here are almost sold out.
Which is a shame, as this truly really is one of BMW’s best-ever efforts.
Goldilocks’ BMW is just right, with light weight, a punchy engine, engaging dynamics and an almost-sensible price tag.
BMW M2 CS VITALS
Price: From $139,900 plus on-roads
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo 6-cyl, 331kW/550Nm
Warranty/Service: 3-year/unlimited km, $2995 for 5 years
Safety: Not yet rated, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning
Cargo: 390 litres
Spare: Inflator kit