This past year was truly a special one for sports cars. Despite the push for electrification, and the constant fear-mongering from petrol-blooded enthusiasts about the demise of sports cars, 2022 saw some genuinely incredible piston-powered machines hit the market. Cars like the BMW M4 CSL, Toyota GR86, McLaren Artura, and the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS all debuted this past year and all were outstanding. But only one can be considered best. So EVO Magazine huddled them all together to find out.
It’s hard to watch this video and not become filled with a jealous rage. The job of EVO editors, over the course of several days, was to drive incredible cars, through gorgeous scenery, on breathtaking roads, and drink beer in hotels while discussing each car’s merits. I’d do that for free, never mind as a job. Most enthusiasts would even pay for such an experience. But jealousy aside, the EVO editors did come to a conclusion and it’s an interesting one.
Spoiler alert: the M4 CSL didn’t win. Honestly, how could it? I drove the BMW M4 CSL on spectacular roads for about 20-30 minutes and could immediately tell that it’s not a great road car. Sure, it’s fast, it’s capable, and it’s accurate. But it lacks the fun, fluidity, and comfort to be a properly good sports car on the road. It’s immense on track, where it can put all of its power down safely on perfectly smooth tarmac. But on a twisty road, filled with bumps and imperfections, it’s far too nervous and loose. Its suspension lacks the sophistication of the other cars’ in the test. So while cars like the McLaren, Ferrari, Audi, and even Toyota feel happy and at home, the M4 CSL feels scary.
There are some good things about it. Its engine is mighty above 4,000 rpm and its brakes are sensational. The latter I noticed in Palm Springs, as its brakes feel like you’ve caught the tailhook of a aircraft carrier. However, its lifeless steering, jittery suspension, and lack of joy leave the M4 CSL quite far behind the other competitors in this test. And before anyone makes any comments about price, as the Ferrari and McLaren are far more expensive, the Porsche and Audi are priced about the same as the BMW and the Toyota costs about $120,000 less.
The BMW M4 CSL is a cool car and one that’s fun to drive but, in a record year for excellent sports cars, it just can’t hang with its best peers.