TRACK DRIVE: BMW M2 CS touches down in SA, but it’s only for a select few
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KYALAMI - Want the gist of this story in one paragraph? The BMW M2 CS has just been launched in South Africa. It’s packed with many truly cool and unique features. It’s an absolute stunner to drive. And it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to buy one.
Just 30 of these truly special M2 Coupes have been shipped to South Africa and 20 of them were auctioned off at Kyalami on November 26, with only a small selection of loyal customers being on the guest list. While the car’s official list price is R1.61 million, BMW won’t say how much the auctioned cars sold for but the company assures us that there was no ‘profiteering’ at play here as any extra proceeds over and above the list price went to BMW-aligned charities. As for the other 10… BMW says these will find their way to select dealers, no doubt to be sold to loyal customers who have already purchased a few M cars in their lifetime.
Local media had the privilege of piloting two of these 10 vehicles for a few laps around Kyalami on Thursday, but before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at what makes the M2 CS so special.
For starters, it’s more potent than the M2 Competition, with M engineers having tweaked the 3-litre straight-six turbopetrol engine to produce 331kW at 6250rpm and 550Nm between 2350 and 5500rpm. That, for the record, is 29kW more than you get in the M2 Competition. In fact, the M2 CS is in the same state of tune as the outgoing M3 and M4 models.
But BMW’s performance division has done a lot more than just throw power at the challenge of creating the ultimate track day machine. BMW has also fitted a raft of lightweight components to offset the extra weight added by the enhanced cooling system and standard adaptive suspension. As a result, it has an identical kerb weight of 1550kg. The bonnet, for instance, is made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which makes it 50 percent lighter than a normal hood, and this material is also used for the roof and mirror caps. Furthermore, the vehicle is fitted with the same lightweight M Sport seats found in the M4 CS.
Another M4 inheritance comes in the form of the aforementioned Adaptive M suspension, while M Sport brakes are part of the deal too. However, you might just want to dig a little deeper in those pockets and opt for the M Carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston callipers.
The adaptive damping system allows drivers to choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport + modes, the latter being designed for track driving, and it’s here that you’ll also appreciate features like the Active M Differential, which compensates for the different rotational speeds of the back wheels.
Dynamic trickery abounds in just about every corner of this little rear-driven car. The CFRP strut brace, for instance, makes the front end of the car particularly stiff, which helps with turn in response. There’s a big aerodynamic bag of tricks too, including a bespoke front splitter, Gurney spoiler lip on the boot lid and a rear diffuser in exposed carbon fibre.
So the M2 CS has all the ingredients for a truly exciting track weapon, and that’s exactly what the finished product delivers. In truckloads.
Hitting the track
Both of our Kyalami test cars were equipped with the optional seven-speed M dual-clutch (M DCT) gearbox, but buyers who prefer to change gears the good old fashioned way can also opt for a six-speed manual - which is indeed a rare option these days.
Punch-in-the-gut acceleration comes as standard in both, with BMW claiming a 4.0 second 0-100km/h sprint time for the dual-clutch model and 4.2 seconds for the manual. Around Kyalami the engine and M DCT gearbox proved to be an impressively responsive combination allowing for instantaneous acceleration out of corners.
But what impressed me the most was the level of grip offered by those standard 19-inch Pilot Sport Cup tyres, created specifically for this car, and measuring 245/35 up front and 265/35 at the back. For a car that sends so much power to the rear wheels, the M2 CS is superbly planted and not as tail-happy as you might expect, although push it hard enough and it will bite, just like any rear-driven car. Those track-biased tyres also mean you’ll have to pay a bit more attention in the wet.
I was thoroughly impressed by this car’s overall sense of balance, and the way the back end can push it through corners with great precision, while the front axle has seemingly never heard of understeer. I also enjoyed the relatively beefy feeling of the steering, and the grippy Alcantara covered M Sport steering wheel added to the overall sensation.
While the M2 CS is a most enticing track toy, BMW also says it’s a perfect everyday car too. Unfortunately I can’t vouch for that as our driving session was limited to the track.
It does however come with the basic luxuries that you’d expect from a premium car, as well as a few decorative items that make it look and feel like a proper special edition. These include a centre console and door pulls finished in carbon fibre, door sill plates with M2 CS badging, illuminated M2 badging on the M Competition sports seats, M seat belts and contrast stitching in Fire Red.
As for exterior decor, the M2 is available in a range of colours including the exclusive Misano Blue, and buyers can also choose between Jet Black and Matt Gold wheels.
In closing, this is a truly special car with everything that the modern day purist could want in a performance machine, and as a result it is sure to become a collector’s item.