Johannesburg - M4 Competition Pack not special enough for you? M4 GTS too over the top? Meet the M4 CS, the car that splits the two down the middle and offers the best of both.

BMW has promised it’ll make only between 2000 and 3000 units for global consumption until 2019, so a true limited edition it is. And yes, you’ll pay a limited-edition premium to own one, but in our opinion the CS is a guaranteed future classic in the same way as a 1970s 3.0 CSL, ‘80s 635 CSi, ‘90s 850 CSi and early 2000s M3 CSL.

What’s so special about it? Underneath, the CS (Club Sport) uses the same forged aluminium suspension upgrades that make the Comp Pack a better handler, but further focused with standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres - the closest you can get to proper track rubber but still street legal. Its 10 spoked wheel design is specific to this model only, and comes in staggered sizes, 19 inches in front and 20s at the rear.

The CS also gets a lightweight carbon-fibre reinforced plastic diffuser, lip spoiler and bonnet, inherited from the now-discontinued GTS, the latter with a gaping but still tastefully styled inverted scoop. Also tasteful is the carbon ducktail type spoiler on the bootlid, again specific to this derivative only. All this carbon, including the obligatory roof panel, contribute to weight savings of about 30kg compared to a standard M4.

Inside the CS you’ll find more bits hand-me-downed from the GTS, most noticeable of which are the lightweight pocket-less natural fibre door panels with canvas loop pull straps. A fixed centre console (with no cubby) and a classy dashboard insert with embossed CS logo are covered in racy alcantara, while at the back there’s a proper rear seating arrangement instead of the GTS’s painted roll cage.

The CS also does away with the GTS’s complicated water injection system, so it can’t quite match the range-topper’s 368kW and 600Nm outputs. The three-litre twin turbo straight-six has, however, been tuned for 338kW/600Nm so it still comfortably outdoes both the standard and Competition Pack M4s in pure grunt.

Is this extra grunt perceptible? Not really. Or at least not via the seat of the pants. All M4 models are quite potent, regardless of the numbers they put out.

But our Vbox test equipment tells a different story, and at 3.95 seconds from 0-100km/h we very nearly matched BMW’s claimed figure of 3.9 seconds.

We also posted a best quarter-mile time of 12 seconds dead, making this the fastest of all M4s we’ve tested, GTS included. But please note, with rear wheel drive traction, BMW’s notoriously finicky M-DCT launch control system, and varying conditions, there’s more voodoo than science in these acceleration tests. As mentioned, all M4s are ferociously quick and the mere tenths between them are hardly significant in the greater scheme of things.

The CS was really impressive on our handling circuit, where its trick suspension and sticky Michelins did a fine job of keeping the coupe on line and pinpoint accurate at fast pace through the bends. It might take Timo Glock to pick up on the modest handling nuances offered by the CS-specific tune of the electronically controlled differential and stability control systems, but CS-specific they are nonetheless.

Timo would, probably, drive with the ESP switched completely off anyway. And when off, the M4 gets its slide on quite nicely. The choice is yours whether to use the sideways slip angle as a handling advantage with slight throttle-provoked arcs mid-corner, or to go hog wild with full-on smoky drifts, but either way the CS is beautifully balanced with its tail hanging out.

Our test car’s carbon ceramic brakes were also on point after a few hard laps, and showed zero pedal fade even under extreme temperatures. But, just as I was with all of BMW’s Competition Pack models, I’m disappointed they’re not offered as standard equipment. Carbon brakes are an expensive R104 500 option, but I believe they should be included in any car capable of these speeds - not only for uprated performance, but for safety too.

There’s no doubting the Club Sport’s sporting nature on the road where it jars over bumps and jiggles on rough surfaces regardless of which suspension setting it’s in. We also noticed some interior rattles, possibly from one of those rigid door panels, but as strange as it sounds the creaky cabin just made the car’s racy attitude all the more authentic.

Same goes for its throttle calibration.

Few cars have a hair trigger like this one, and even in Comfort mode it takes a gentle foot to pull off without getting those turbos whizzing prematurely. In Sport modes it’s even more sensitive, and on more than one occasion I bucked away from a robot like a beginner learning clutch control. The CS wants to go fast, all the time.

VERDICT

Priced at R1 864 341 before options the CS comes in at a hefty R539 280 premium over an everyday M4. That’s an amount that you’ll never feel in performance, but this car stands for more than just the slight edge it has over its M siblings.

BMW’s engineers have gone out of their way to create a car worthy of the badge, and even if its added sharpness is negligible, the extra interior touches, tasteful styling and unique overall flavour are sure to make this M4 go down in history. As mentioned, a guaranteed future classic.

FACTS

BMW M4 CS Club Sport

Engine: 3.0-litre, 6 cylinder, turbopetrol
Gearbox: 7-speed automatic
Power: 338kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 1850-5500rpm
0-100km/h (tested): 3.95 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 280km/h
Price: R1 864 341
Warranty: 2-year/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

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