2020 BMW M2 CS review: One-upping itself

The M2 is not only one of the BMWs that drive best, it is also one of the most beautiful.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

The M2 Competition it’s my favorite BMW, so obviously I’m pretty excited about the M2 CS. It’s faster and sharper than the standard competition and a bit lighter too. It’s a more focused version of an already delightful performance car. And you can also get it with gold wheels. Awesome.

Like it

  • Super sharp handling
  • Great turbo power
  • One of the best BMW projects
  • Gold wheels!

I do not like

  • Super expensive with options
  • The exhaust doesn’t sound that good
  • No Android Auto

The CS uses the same 3.0-liter I6 biturbo as the M2 Comp, BMW’s S55 engine for internal code nerds. Horsepower jumps from 405 in the competition to 444 in the CS, but both cars have identical 406-foot-pound torque. Low-end thrust comes all the way to 2,350rpm, meaning there’s little in the way of lag when launching. The CS’s 0-60 mph time marks 3.8 seconds, making it 0.2 seconds faster than the M2 Competition. Negligible things.

The CS gets a dual leg exhaust design with electronically controlled valves. This makes it louder than the M2 Competition, but this setup sounds like that of the M3 and M4, that’s not quite a good thing. You can turn up the volume on the exhaust note if you wish, but this is a case where it doesn’t really seem necessary. The M2 CS sounds best when it’s quiet. Strange, I know.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard and is the correct choice. I say having spent a week with a DCT equipped M2 CS, which offers smooth and fast shifts at speed, but is kind of a pain in the ass to live with day to day. There’s no torque converter to crank the CS into idle when you take your foot off the throttle, so getting away from a traffic light can be a bit jerky. The car will even stagger backwards if you are on a slope, which is to be expected with a manual, but can sometimes catch you off guard with an automatic gearbox. Oh, and the DCT option adds $ 2,900 to the CS bottom line. Yes, it makes the M2 CS 0.2 seconds faster at 60 mph than the manual auto, but seriously, who cares? I’ll take the driver’s commitment more than brag every day.

BMW’s Adaptive M suspension technology is standard on the CS, but it doesn’t do much to really distance this car from the M2 Competition. You can toggle between the Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings, all of which are quite stiff. But honestly, there isn’t enough significant difference between the three modes to justify frequent fiddling. Maybe Sport Plus is slightly better than Sport on a track. Could be.

Are you looking for gold at no cost? Definitely. $ 8,500 ceramic brakes? Ehh.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

All the reasons I enjoy driving the M2 Competition are still very much alive in the CS. It’s a nimble little thing with quick reflexes and suitably heavy steering, plus the thick strut bracing under the hood keeps the nose nice and stiff so it’ll change the directions of the lick split. The CS has the competition’s active locking rear differential, which can vary the power delivery between the rear wheels, giving you better cornering grip and better stability on slippery surfaces. The CS is also fitted with Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires, which are a godsend when it comes to high performance tires and go a long way in letting the M2 really hold up during high-speed cornering.

Carbon ceramic brakes are available, providing longer lasting stopping power without fading. They’re not as stiff and hard to modulate as some of BMW’s earlier ceramic brake efforts, but they also cost a whopping $ 8,500, so choose wisely. If the M2 CS isn’t going to be your track car, maybe skip this option.

The DCT and ceramic brakes are about that as far as optional equipment is concerned, except for premium paint choices like my test car’s $ 550 Misano Blue. Gold wheels are also a free choice which means you should definitely go for them. By the way, I’m getting a total Subaru rally vibe from the blue and gold combination. Hubba hubba.

Aside from a few extra pieces of carbon fiber, the interior of the CS is the same as the standard M2.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

M2 CS gets a lot of carbon fiber pieces, which help reduce weight. The ventilated hood, roof and extra aerodynamic components are all made from this ultra-light material, as are a number of interior pieces such as the center console and transmission tunnel. The CS ditches the M2’s center armrest for another pound or two and there’s a generous helping of Alcantara suede on the dashboard, doors, and steering wheel. All in all, the CS is 55 pounds lighter than an M2 Competition equivalent, which is a decent amount of weight removal, although a DCT-equipped CS still weighs 3,600 pounds.

Functionally speaking, the CS has the same trade-offs as the standard M2 Competition. The trunk is small and there are only a couple of small places to store items inside the cabin. BMW hasn’t gone so far as to remove the rear seats, but it’s better left for backpacks and shopping bags than real adult humans, anyway. The central 8.8-inch touchscreen of the CS uses the same latest generation iDrive technology as the base M2, which means integrated navigation and Apple CarPlay are on offer, but Android Auto it is nowhere to be found. The CS can’t be had with some of the M2 Comp’s more luxurious niceties, like a wireless charging pad or heated steering wheel. The driver assistance features are also scarce, but given the performance-focused mission of the CS, that’s fine by me.

Great car. Expensive car.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

The CS is a real treasure and only promotes my love for the M2 line as a whole. The problem is that it costs $ 84,595 including $ 995 for the destination, which makes it $ 24,700 more expensive than a base M2 Competition. Add in the premium paint, dual-clutch transmission, and ceramic brakes – all fitted to my test car – and you’re looking at $ 96,545. That’s a lot of money for a 2 Series and puts the M2 CS well into much more capable sports car territory. If I spend that much, I get a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS with the new 4.0-liter engine.

On the other hand, a 2021 BMW M2 Competition painted in Long Beach Blue with the manual transmission and Executive package slides to $ 61,645 including destination. And since the changes to the CS don’t really boost the M2’s performance to a new level, it’s hard to argue against this kind of value. Also, the M2 CS is a one-year limited edition deal and I’m sure the vast majority of the US allotment is already talked about. The CS is great, but as I said earlier, the M2 Comp is my favorite BMW. I guess I’ll just have to get myself a set of gold wheels.

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