The new BMW M2 CS is here as the final ‘hoorah’ in the M2 range. So it’s time to have a proper drive in the latest member of the M2 family, and to give you some insight whether it is worthy of the hefty price tag. And, of course, if you should pick one up for yourself. We were in Europe for an extensive drive with a manual, Misano Blue M2 CS. The little sports coupe was also outfitted with all the right gear and ready to take on the task of transporting us across Europe. More importantly, the M2 CS acted as a daily driver, showcasing why it sits at the top of the M2 F87 series.
Before continuing this story, I have to share that as the previous owner of a M2 Coupe and a current owner of a M2 Competition, I share the love for the car with many enthusiasts across the world. Therefore, I had looked forward to my drive in the CS and showing the differences between the new model and two previous cars.
For true BMW enthusiasts, the M2 line up is one that encompasses the true essence of what we want to see from BMW and what the Germans can fit into a smaller package. Especially knowing the sheer level of regulations and compliance issues that the Bavarians have to deal with right now. BMW’s celebrated junior M-car series is saying goodbye, after having shown its massive, yet unexpected success. The M department in Garching fully underestimated the success initially and with the CS, it now says farewell to one of the most successful M-cars ever made. And that is prior to the introduction of a new second-generation model in 2022.
Based on the engineering behind the G80 M3 and G82 M4, the G87 M2 will shine with the same level of brilliance but with a much better looking face.
The M2 CS – limited to 2,200 pieces according to BMW – is based on the M2 Competition recipe, which we saw hitting the market two years ago. The underlining set up is the same with a nice number of interior, exterior and performance upgrades, which we will touch on shortly. The upgrades come at a serious cost though, which we will also talk about towards the end of this article.
A Bold Launch Color – Misano Blue
The BMW M2 CS received the Misano Blue as the “communication color.” Where the M2 Coupe got a unique ///M color in the form of Long Beach Blue, the M2 Competition got Hockenheim Silver as a unique launch and ///M color. The M2 CS however is dressed in “smurf” blue, with Sapphire Black, Alpine White and Hockenheim Silver available as well. Misano Blue is the same blue as you will find on the X1 or X2 that your parents drive, or in the the Z4 of your uncle, or even in the M135i of the boy racer, who parks his hot hatch at the end of your street. In my personal opinion, this color doesn’t suit a true M-car and definitely not when you consider that a nice Orange or Red would have been more signature to what the brand wants to showcase these days.
Plenty Of Visual Changes
Looking past the color, you will notice a nice range of upgrades compared to the Competition. The signature 763M wheels shed weight on each corner of the car and offer you the option of gold and black colors.
At the front, you will notice the new carbon splitter, which offers improvements on the handling and is combined with a new carbon rear spoiler. Other carbon fiber parts are the M Performance rear diffuser, the two M Performance mirror caps and two more important upgrades. First of is the bonnet, which offers additional weight saving on the front axle, plus improved hot air flow via the vent.
And a brand new carbon roof. The roof saves some decent weight and is a structural part of the chassis, made of a sandwich structure. Weirdly enough, the pattern of the carbon weave is different from all the other carbon parts on the car. More surprisingly is that this M2 CS has some sort of carbon defects in the roof (check my video below for more details). That is a rather weird thing, but we reached out to BMW to get more details.
Other than this, you won’t find any other major changes to the design of the car. Of course, there are now slightly larger silver tailpipes on the unaltered exhaust system, a silver M2 CS badge and the car comes with wheel arches extenders (those black plastic strips at the top of the wheel arch). Those are required for homologation reasons and can be removed with ease, if you don’t like them.
Subtle But Cool Changes Inside The Cabin
On the inside, not much has changed either. There are key changes when it comes to the seats, which are now the same seats as from the F8x M3/M4 CS, with the signature holes in the backrest and Merino leather, no longer Dakota. You will find the same Merino leather on the rear bench, the door arm rests and the handbrake grip. The steering wheel is full Alcantara and on the dashboard you will find an Alcantara patch with an embossed CS logo.
Another noticeable change is the absence of an arm rest and the installation of a new gloss carbon fiber center tunnel, which meant that the Bavarians had to remove all the rough carbon used in the M2 Coupe / Competition interior and replace it with gloss carbon parts. The absence of the arm rest in the center console has an interesting impact on the way you are able to shift manually using the gear stick. When you are on it and are driving the car fast, you won’t experience any issues, but when you want to drive the CS more relaxing – which you will do most of the time when it acts as a daily – you will miss the arm rest.
You’ll likely also get annoyed by the hard center tunnel and more importantly you’d touch the iDrive controller almost every single time you enter sixth gear. This is an interesting design choice which has often resulted in resetting my navigation set up, kill a phone call or change the radio when I didn’t want to. This is something that taller people will experience mostly, since their backrest is more inclined. We also have longer arms and sit with our arms more perpendicular to the center tunnel. It is a niggle, I know, but one that we experienced and wanted to mention to you.
Other than these points you won’t find any major changes inside the interior. If you want you can opt for M Performance or other aftermarket parts that are available for the M2 range. Many of the parts available for the M2 or M2C fit the M2 CS.
The true brilliance of the M2 CS is not in any of the point we just have mentioned. If you consider the CS, then the next section of my story is what you need to read.
All About Handling
Handling! Te BMW M2 CS is all about the handling. Stop thinking about the blue color, the iDrive controller niggle or perhaps the old looks of the dashboard setup. Dig deeper and you find what this car is all about. Focus on what is under the hood and your right foot, and what is connected to your hands and to the road. The CS offers a package that enhances the performance through a series of upgrades. Let’s start with the biggest impact; the new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s.
The tire is a newly developed piece of rubber with harder side walls meant to deal with heavier cars. The difference is immediately felt and the tire offers a better front end bite and improved lateral grip. The M2 CS feels less playful and more mature in its characteristics and the tire plays the biggest role in this.
The other major impact is the weight saving, especially over the front axle. The new bonnet, lighter wheels and carbon ceramic brake kit from the F-series M3/M4 offer considerable weight saving at the front, whilst at the same time gives you improved brake power via the ceramics. In total, the car is around 43 kgs lighter than the M2 Competition, of course depending on your specification, with the brake kit shedding off the biggest chunk of weight.
The third major impact you will notice is the improved steering, which feels similar to the M3/M4 CS steering feel. The steering’s ECU mapping has been upgraded and it feels as if BMW M took the file from the M3 or M4 CS and loaded it into the M2 CS with perhaps some minor adjustments. The new steering feels properly weighted, boosts your confidence and offers more precision over the set up in the other M2 models. It has become a lovely improvement over the other two cars.
There is more to the M2 CS, of course, such as the improved software in the differential and the changes to the suspension set up, featuring minor alterations to the geometry. The newly fitted adaptive dampers have steps between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. The steps are subtle to say the least, with the middle option offering the best of all. Only with rougher roads and more speed you’d notice a bit more firmness as you progress from Comfort through to Sport Plus. It’s all really subtle and a small improvement over the M2 and M2C set up. A proper aftermarket coil-over set is still a requirement for true enthusiasts and adds that bit of finesse which is still absent.
The S55 Engine
The Bavarians were able to combine all of the ingredients mentioned above into a nicely weighted package that is supported by the newly fitted, carbon front splitter and rear spoiler, which offer improved stability at high speeds. I took the car up to 285 km/h on the German Autobahns numerous times and the way it handled up to that speed and rode over bumps, was a confidence booster. Add this to the newly added performance from the S55 straight-six engine and you have a winning combination which offers the best stock and road-legal driving experience in a M2.
The twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder delivers on paper 450hp at 6250rpm and 550Nm between 2350 and 5500rpm, which is 40hp more than the M2C. On the road, the top end performance feels a lot higher than 450hp, more like 500hp. M2C owners might know that their car can produce up to 590Nm in stock format. The CS offers the same.
Additionally, dyno runs have shown in the past few weeks that the M2 CS produces up to 490hp from its front-mounted engine. That is 80hp more than the detuned S55 in the M2C! And yes, you feel those extra 80hp, especially when you bring the car to its top speed and flick through the higher gears. BMW claims 0–100km/h in 4.0sec, which is 0.2sec quicker than the M2 Competition. After experiencing the car, I can believe that statement.
The fact that there is the choice between a manual and an automatic is of course great, but as the owner of a M2C fitted with an automatic gearbox I am happy I opted for the M-DCT. The manual gearshift is typical BMW and it underwhelms me. The combination of the longer throw, long transition of the clutch pedal, crooked seating position and rubbery feel of the box isn’t that brilliant, not when you have experienced the manual box in a Porsche. The gearbox will also automatically match the revs on downshifts unless you turn the DSC all the way off.
All in all, the BMW M2 CS is a huge amount of fun, but less “fun” than the M2 Competition. It feels more mature and serious, but also keener and incisive to drive. The increased compliance throughout the different changes allow for better handling, improved body control and allow track junkies to chase lap times more easily.
Should I Buy One?
After having brought you through the different aspects of the car, let’s touch on 4,500 km in the M2 CS and share with you my thoughts while answering the question of “should you buy one?”. First of all, the 2020 BMW M2 CS is a lovely daily with a quite a similar experience to the M2 Competition. The difference isn’t night and day, and for those with a smaller budget don’t be afraid, the Comp will do just fine. Personally, I am not a fan of the manual set up, but I will applaud the fact that the Germans have not forgotten about fans who want to have a manual. The daily practicality of the vehicle is similar to the M2C, offers you the same space, features and ability to enjoy the M2’s versatility.
Where it really starts to make a difference is when you grab the CS by its neck and experience the improved handling and performance. At that moment, you really understand what this car is all about, but does this ingredient really justify an increased price level of up to 30,000-35,000 EUR over an M2 Competition?
Just for your information, our press car was priced at 106,000 EUR including 16 percent sales tax and didn’t have all the features ticked on the option list.
The short answer? No, it doesn’t justify that price tag. This is exactly where things go wrong with the M2 CS. The suspension kit still requires an aftermarket adjustable coil-over kit, the exhaust needs an improved sound track (if you live in Europe, it sounds better in the US) and the ceramics are great, but not something you should immediately opt for as a person looking for an M2. Add those costs to the price tag, walk yourself through the complete list of CS upgrades and then ask the question: “What am I buying a CS for?” Its limited nature? Its increased performance? Its improved handling?
All legitimate questions, but to make it more clear, let’s put the M2 Competition alongside the M2 CS and then look at the list of features and upgrades, and you will see that the 35,000 EUR premium isn’t such a favorable sight anymore. For those of you looking for a M2(C)(S), you could opt for the M2C, install the new rubber, throw the lightweight wheels, carbon front spoiler, carbon rear spoiler, and maybe some other carbon parts into the mix to increase stability at high speed and shed some weight.
By doing so, you could potentially bring your M2C up to 85% of the CS’s capabilities. A random percentage towards the higher end, but you get the idea.
Add to this, the improved steering and differential software of the M2 CS, which you can install through using an app like Thorflasher (more on the warranty bellow), improve your stock brake kit with better pads, improved brake oil and better brake lines, and opt for the CS engine tune, and you are getting close to the CS’s ability for a fraction of the cost.
No fancy structural carbon roof, Merino leather seats or silver tailpipes tough! Definitely not, but instead you create your own package, and you have a passion-filled monthly process of making it your own.
I am fully aware that some of the software upgrades will touch the warranty of the car, but in many cases we have seen owners who took their chances when it comes to these kind of upgrades. Therefore I still mention them as an option and to showcase that a (second hand) M2C might well be the best choice over the CS. Nonetheless, the M2 CS still offers a great package when you have the funds in the bank account and not necessarily want to alter your car.
If only the 2020 BMW M2 CS was priced around 90-95K EUR with all taxes and fees included (U.S. MRSP is $84,595), then it would have been a suitable option alongside its family members. And clearly would have given the Porsche Cayman GT4 a run for its money. Not sure what the situation is in the United States, but apparently European dealers are not sold out yet. So it remains to be seen whether the M2 CS will go on discount like some of the previous M3 and M4 CS models, or even the M4 GTS.
So if you really have the funds and you’re the early adopter type, might as well go for it. If you’re more on the frugal side, you could always wait a few months and see how the market shakes up. Clearly, this varies by market since the U.S. will have a longer production time into 2021. Of course, COVID-19 could play a role in future sales. Disposable income is certainly less than before, so getting discounts on some products is not so far fetched.
[Photos: Vincero_Photography on Instagram]