Every year, Car and Driver conducts its Lightning Lap test at VIR (Virginia International Raceway). Lapping a challenging track is the best way to understand a car’s handling, although it isn’t always the best way to judge how a car makes you feel. But to find out which of the newest sports cars on the market are the fastest, most capable, and most exciting, there are few better ways to do it than lapping VIR. In this year’s test, several BMWs were involved but the most notable of all was the BMW M4 CSL.

In its LL4 class, the M4 CSL had to play with other monstrous sports cars, such as the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, Lamborghini Huracan Technica, and Mercedes-AMG SL63. Pretty impressive company. However, on paper at least, the BMW M4 CSL holds up.

Powering the M4 CSL is an uprated version of the M4 Competition’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six, making 543 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. However, C&D reckons that’s seriously underrated, as the M4 CSL has a worse power-to-weight ratio than the 760 horsepower Shelby GT500 and was only a few mpg slower on the long straight of VIR. Maybe Bavarian horses are stronger than America ones.

However, straight line speed is far from the only thing a car needs for Lightning Lap. It also needs to corner well, brake hard, hang onto speed well, and provide the driver with the confidence to push it to its limits. The M4 CSL has a three of those things but it’s missing the fourth. Its steering is razor sharp, its grip levels are off the charts, and its brakes feel like you’ve deployed a rear parachute. However, its seat requires mechanical intervention to adjust, which means journalists can’t sit properly in them, and its steering is numb. So C&D driers could never really feel what the car was doing, as it was doing it, and that meant it wasn’t quite as confidence inspiring as they would have liked.

Still, it was able to put down an impressive lap time and one that’s competitive. So it nailed the objective parts. But could it nail the subjective stuff, the fizzy goodness that takes good sports cars and makes them special? We’ll find out.

[Source: Car and Driver]