By Miles Downard
The big festival
‘M’ – the most powerful letter in the world. I’m sure South African’s have heard that slogan a lot in the past few weeks in the build up to the BMW M Festival that was held at Kyalami race track last weekend. The event was, to put it mildly, an overwhelming success.
In terms of worldwide market share, BMW sells the 3rd most M cars here in South Africa. Given that stat, it’s no wonder the festival was the biggest one ever held anywhere in the world. But this last weekend’s event wasn’t only about showcasing what the company has to offer. A new derivative of the M4 was launched too. And that’s what I’m here to talk about.
The new M car
The M4 is a well known entity by now. The coupe sibling to what has, for a very long time, been considered the ultimate performance saloon, the M3. Built on largely the same underpinnings, with parts from the same bin, the M4 was an instant success.
Since then, BMW has released variant upon variant thereof, with the likes of the M4 Competition Pack – CP for short – the M4 Pure Edition, the M4 GTS and, of course, the M4 DTM Champion Edition. So to add to that very long list is the M4 CS (or Coupe Sport if you aren’t au fait with the company’s acronyms).
The M4 CS is said to plug the gap between the M4 CP and the ultra hardcore M4 GTS/DTM. Personally I thought the M4 CP was there to fill that role between the normal M4 and the hardcore ones, but apparently I was wrong, you can actually squeeze another car in there.
What’s it like?
Anyway, to the car itself. Having the pleasure of driving the entire line up of M cars, from the M2 through to the M3 CP, and all the M4’s mentioned, I can in fact report that the M4 CS does exactly what BMW put on the tin. The Competition Package, in my opinion, isn’t that pleasant of a driver’s car. It’s a bit numb from a feedback point of view, not sharp enough from a precision point of view, and delivers its torque like a muscle car – all in one big lump – only the run out of puff higher in the rev range. I don’t get what the fuss is all about. The DTM Champion Edition on the other hand is a race car with number plates. Fixed back front seats, no rear seats (because roll cage) and tyres that are basically semi slicks is what’s in the box. And on the track it’s an absolute weapon.
Then I jumped into the M4 CS – and my what a difference. There’s a touch more power at 338kW and a fair whack more torques, with 600Nm. But that’s not where the difference lies. The car is much more alive in the driver’s hands, with better feedback, a sharper front axle and just enough body roll to convey a sense of weight transfer. What’s more remarkable is that the CS shares the same suspension gubbins with the CP. So, just how do they do it?
Well it comes entirely from a set of forged wheels, slightly smaller up front and slightly wider at the rear, wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. There’s a tiny bit of weight shaving (35kg to be exact) and the software for its dampers, power steering and active differential had some tweeks. What you’re left with is the car that BMW should have built from the get go.
At about R300,000 more than the Competition Pack, the M4 CS will set you back R1 838 500. There are only going to be 3000 units built, so good luck getting your hands on one. That’s a rather unfortunate thing really, because to my mind this is the M4 you’ll want to own.