FIRST DRIVE | The BMW M2 CS could mark the end of an era
Change is inevitable. This is a mantra continuously proved in the automotive world, especially as it transitions away from internal combustion and towards electrification and autonomy.
Those who identify as enthusiasts of a high-octane persuasion are bound to seize any opportunity to celebrate last bastions of performance motoring as we know it.
Like the M2 CS, for example, which could very well be the final manual transmission M-car to be offered in SA. It feels strange dwelling on the fact, because most customers opted to have the normal M2 with the two-pedal, M-DCT option anyway.
At Kyalami circuit last week, national media had a shot at three laps in the M2 CS (one equipped with the dual-clutch transmission).
For me, it was something of a full circle moment, from an M2 generation perspective. The car was launched here in 2016, when a first acquaintance was offered at the track on the property of the incredible Franschhoek Motor Museum.
That year, we staged a three car shootout with the M2 against the Audi RS3 Sportback and Mercedes-AMG A45. Racing driver Mandla Mdakane laid down lap times at Red Star Raceway – the Bimmer was the quickest – and the unanimous verdict was that it had been the most fun to drive.
It was the victor, even though there were criticisms. Like the drab interior, or the fact that there was not considerably more power than there was in the M235i of the day: 240kW and 450Nm versus 272kW and 465Nm – or 500Nm in short bursts with the overboost function.
It also lacked “proper M” side mirrors.
Then BMW upped the ante with the Competition version, which remedied those gripes. Output was bumped up to 302kW and 550Nm, among other updates.
The CS serves as a last hurrah for the current expression of the M2. You get more power (331kW) while peak torque remains at 550Nm.
A carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) hood weighs 50% less, there are additional carbon fibre aerodynamic elements around the vehicle, rounded off with 19-inch, Y-spoke wheels dressed in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.
There is an exclusive Misano Blue colour choice, too. The interior features seats borrowed from the M4 CS.
My trio of laps offered a heartening reminder as to why fans regard the M2 recipe in such high esteem. We can start with the rambunctious acoustics emerging from those tail pipes. The six-cylinder mill snorts, belches and clears its throat like a bronchitis patient.
The peaky nature of its power delivery makes the CS lively in corners, where goading it with a heavy foot will inevitably provoke a cheeky “hello” from the rear. That said, with the car in Sport Plus, there was never a sense the tyres were squirming to transmit power.
The red centre marker on the top of the Alcantara steering wheel spent most of its time facing north – nobody wants to be the person who overcooks it on the launch of a limited edition speedster.
Only 30 were allocated to our market and the majority were auctioned off at an event last Thursday evening, with reserve prices upwards of R1.6m.
We do not know what the next instalment of the lineage promises, but it is quite certain custodians of this special swansong will be happy in the knowledge they have bagged an instant legend.