New BMW M4 CS review

The BMW M4 CS carries a lofty price tag – but is it worth the extra over the standard car?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

BMW has pushed the M4’s limits even higher with this special-feeling CS. There are few compromises for the increase in performance, while the tweaks make the chassis even more rewarding for keen drivers – addressing one of the standard car’s minor drawbacks. The extra sensory information fed back through the steering elevates the M4 by another step. It’s a great performance coupe.

Winter might not be the ideal time to test a 454bhp super-coupe, but with snow dusting the hills we headed towards them in the new BMW M4 CS. How does this latest model sit in the hierarchy of the M Division’s fast two-doors?

Like the hardcore, track-focused M4 GTS of 2016, this M4 CS is still a limited-run model (capped at 3,000 units), but unlike that car, you can still buy one of these brand-new. At £87,150 it’s not cheap, but for that price you get a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine, a seven-speed M DCT dual-clutch gearbox, a more focused chassis setup and plenty of exclusivity – without any real compromise in terms of practicality, unlike the roll-caged GTS.

• Best performance cars on sale

The engine’s power has been lifted to 454bhp while torque is up to 600Nm – that’s 10bhp and 50Nm more than the M4 Competition Pack respectively. This has a tangible impact on performance, while it’s louder, too, with a gruff aural signature that’s more appealing than before, and goes some way to addressing one of the problems with the standard car. 

The CS is DCT-only, but with launch control, warm tyres and a dry road, it’ll take just 3.9 seconds to hit 62mph. The motor is ferocious, revving with such punch from low down that, wearing semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and on cold, damp tarmac like we tested it on, the CS fizzes into wheelspin as the engine comes on boost. 

There’s not much turbo lag and throttle response is sharp enough, so you can play with the chassis in corners, relishing in its rear-driven balance. This is helped by the fact that the CS feels much more transparent and co-operative than M4s have in the past.

There’s a new tune for the suspension setup over the M4 Competition Pack car, too, with different spring and damper rates. Together with the lightweight 19-inch alloys it feels fairly compliant for a semi-stripped-out coupe – even on less than perfect roads in the dampers’ Comfort mode.

The Sport and Sport+ settings control body and wheel movement more rigidly – to the point where the CS feels nicely tied down at high speed. While it takes imperfections in its stride in Comfort, vicious bumps can upset the car a little more in the racier modes.

The M4 still has that feeling European muscle car feeling of all-encompassing power, but with this CS there’s more delicacy to the BMW’s trademark brutality. The steering pulls gently as the car’s front axle is more sensitive to cambers, but these subtle movements are welcome as the level of detail on offer inspires confidence like no other regular M4. 

That’s a good thing, as it draws you in to pushing the car a little harder, and exploring a little more of its ability. On the face of things it’s a searingly quick coupe that might feel a little one dimensional, but when you start to learn how the CS likes to be driven, you unlock a wealth of talent that means that it could be the best M4 yet.

It makes it all the more frustrating that the lightweight door panels – inherited from the GTS, using straps as door pulls – don’t offer any storage. At least you get rear seats in the CS, while the rest of the cabin is suitably elevated over its lesser siblings, featuring lots of Alcantara and CS badging.

The M4’s 445-litre boot can hold more than enough luggage, so it’s just as usable as the standard car. And while it’s a little more edgy, the performance potential and the enjoyment factor are higher than ever.

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars
Opinion

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
New Toyota RAV4 Adventure heads up 2022 model refresh
Toyota RAV4 Adventure
News

New Toyota RAV4 Adventure heads up 2022 model refresh

The rugged Toyota RAV4 Adventure targets lifestyle buyers with a tough-looking new front bumper and interior tweaks
14 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021