BMW’s fun-loving M2 scores more power, more stuff and some added rarity for its final bow as the M2 CS.
Four and a half years ago I drove the BMW M2 for the first time. I was dead-set hooked. There is stuff we shot for that video that we couldn’t leave in because we were having far too much fun. BMW M cars weren’t that much fun at that point. The M4 Competition was good, but not like the car it replaced. And I’m not complaining about the engine (although that V8 was glorious), but it just felt a bit inert.
Then the following year I scared myself silly in the BMW M4 CS in left-hand drive around unfamiliar roads near Goodwood. The M4’s intertness had gone, replaced by the hilarity of its baby brother, the M2. Then I drove the M2 in 2018 again and its charm was completely undimmed. The M2 vs M140i side-by-side review on this site was massive, the video far and away the most popular we’ve ever done. Then I drove the M4 CS again on roads I knew. And loved it.
Why am I telling you all this? Because the M2 CS is the end of that road not just for me (and anyone who buys it) but for BMW. This M2 CS is going to go down as the last of the breed, running the spectacular S55 straight-six from the old M3 and M4. Carbon fibre bits, stripped out interior and a set of very sticky semi-slick Michelin tyres.
I don’t mind telling you I was absolutely champing at the bit to drive this car. So here we go. The BMW M2 CS.
Words: Peter Anderson
Co-pilots: Mark Dewar, Blake Currall
Images: Blake Currall
What is the BMW M2 CS and what do I get?
$139,300 + ORC
The M2 CS is the last of the old line of CLAR-based 2-Series before being replaced with what will surely be the last generation of petrol-powered M2, again on CLAR, but that’s about all we know.
You can choose between a seven-speed DCT (the car I drove) or a six-speed manual, with the DCT adding a hefty $7500 to the price. Still, at least it’s not fifty grand more than the “base” car which sells at $102,900 and $109,900.
Despite the lightweight approach suggested by the CS nameplate, you get a 12 speaker stereo, 19-inch alloys, air-conditioning (no climate control), remote central locking and keyless start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, electric front seats, sat nav, LED headlights with active shadowing, leather and Alcantara trim, auto wipers, proper M seats and a tyre repair kit.
BMW OS 7.0 graces the big screen and you can use the iDrive rotary controller on the console or use the touch screen. Apple CarPlay is wireless but there doesn’t seem to be Android Auto on this version. The single USB port is at the rear of the console so you’ll have cables snaking about the place. You will, also, survive.
It’s not bare in here, but the minimalist look of the less complex air-conditioning reminds you that this isn’t meant to be your daily driver. This is an event car – the one you take for a drive, not the car you just drive.
The M2 CS has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, driver attention detection and that’s your lot. As a consequence, there are far fewer beeps and boops and the unseen hand of lane keep assist
There are two top-tether and two ISOFIX points in the rear, which is made up of just two seats.
Warranty and Servicing
BMW’s increasingly dreary insistence on a mere three years for its warranty (with unlimited kilometres) is looking ever weaker by the day. Mercedes has a five-year offering across the board and BMW is going to get lumped in with Audi the longer this goes on. Even Jaguar offers longer coverage.
The M2 CS does, however, fall into the BMW Basic Service Inclusions (BSI) packages, with a choice of Standard and Plus. Both cover a period of five years/80,000k, roughly translating to a 12 month/16,000km service interval, but that’s not how BMW works. $2995 covers the basics, working out at $600 per year (not bad, really) with the $8805 adding coverage for brake pads and parts, a clutch service and new wiper blades every 12 months.
I just wish the warranty was better and I’m sure you do too.
Look and Feel
People always look at the M2 but they really looked at this one with its bright blue paint (mandatory, in my opinion) and the $1000 option gold wheels. I think this thing absolutely looks the business. The front bumper is properly aggressive, with an evil set of headlights framing a blacked-out grille. The bonnet looks normal but as with the roof and various obvious bits of aero, is made from carbon fibre.
The fattened guards under which all the M3/M4 suspension and other go-faster bits look as beautiful as ever in that aggro kind of way. The carbon roof is unpainted and I’m begging you, don’t replace it with a steel-roof-with-a-sunroof because just no. Oddly this car looks a bit meek in white, especially from the rear (never its strongest angle), so it’s definitely colour sensitive.
The cabin, as I’ve already mentioned is a bit stripped back but not massively. The seats (from the M4 CS) are fantastic both to look at and sit in. The rear seats are not terrific to sit in because the front seats will crush your knees but if you have to, you’ll be snug and probably whack your head on the rear windscreen. As a CS, one wonders why BMW didn’t just fling them in favour of a helmet-friendly shelf or something similar. Because, let’s be honest, the M2 is going after some serious machinery that doesn’t bother with rear seats.
The centre console is just a slab of carbon fibre aft of the shifter, which looks good but reduces the available storage and there’s nowhere to put your elbow when you’re cruising. Or if you’re a passenger, you can’t brace yourself against it, although the seats mean you don’t have to worry about that so much.
3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six
Seven-speed twin-clutch tranmission
The full-fat S55 straight-six delivers 331kW at a these-days dizzying 6250rpm and a properly scary 550Nm between 2350 and 5500rpm. The power figure betters the M2 Competition by 29kW while making peak torque available for an extra 300rpm.
The CS’s engine has an extra gear for ensuring the oil supply to the engine remains on track when you’re absolutely hammering it. New vents on the carbon bonnet get rid of the hot air trapped under the bonnet while helping suck more cool air in.
A new exhaust system with a switchable sound mode ends in four pipes to look like a proper M car, but tighter emissions regulations have robbed us of the theatrics of the older Competition spec cars.
DCT cars crack the ton in four seconds dead while the manual is two tenths behind. With the M Driver’s Package as standard, it will head off into the wide blue yonder at up to 280km/h.
There’s a bit going on here. For the first time in the M2, you get adaptive M suspension. The other M2s don’t have it, making them marginal dailies unless you’re a masochist like me.
As before the suspension is cobbled together from M3 and M4 parts, with struts up front and a multi-link rear end with plenty of beef to make everything flat and fast. That lovely wide track remains, too, giving the M2 tons of street presence.
The massive front brakes measure 400mm at the front with six-piston calipers while the rears are a still massive 380mm with four-piston calipers. If you’ve got another fifteen grand lying about, you can splash out on carbon ceramic brakes. You probably don’t need them, just quietly.
The CFRP strut brace in the engine bay remains, looking good and keeping the two sides of the car apart more effectively, so stiffening the chassis for a better front end.
Between the rears you’ve got the Active M differential I fell in love with over a decade ago in the E60 M5. It’s a brilliant thing.
The 19-inch forged alloys come standard with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, 245/35 at the front on 9.0-inch width rims and 265/35 at the rear on 10.0-inch rims. You can delete these and have the M2 Competition’s Pilot Sport 4S which are better in the wet but you could also give yourself an uppercut. They’re fantastic tyres, but the Cups are the ones to have.
Okay, folks, take a deep breath. This thing is a belter.
While it doesn’t seem like a lot, the various bits and pieces added to the M2 CS spec – as well as the already impressive baseline – make it an absolutely colossal piece of machinery. And, curiously, much more liveable.
The liveability comes from the adaptive suspension. Being able to take a break from the buffeting of the stiffly sprung standard car means the drive back from the favourite road/track is much more pleasant and conducive to a lowering of the heart and adrenaline rates.
Having the comfortable option means you can drive it like a normal person, not trying to dodge potholes with a hyper-vigilance you might reserve for an Italian supercar’s low-hanging front end. You can take your significant other without the scoffing and whingeing at the ride comfort or lack thereof.
Annoyingly, when the car starts it defaults to a weird mix of sport settings for suspension and steering while putting the engine in (relatively) lazy efficiency mode. It’s not much fun to drive in that combination and it actually makes low speed manoeuvring really annoying because the twin-clutch still needs a good prod to wake it up from rest.
But you’re not here for the school run stories. You want to know what it’s like to point down your favourite bit of road. If you can’t be bothered reading on, here’s what I said to someone the day after I did just that:
Now, obviously, that’s a bit of amusing hyperbole, but my giddy aunt this thing is wild. Not in a “gosh, what a handful kind of way,” in fact it’s the opposite. Those sticky Michelins not only tie the front end down with the help of that brilliant active differential, but they also conjure up extraordinary levels of grip.
You can feel your internal organs washing up on the insides of your ribcage when you’re cornering hard, the steering doing a reasonable job of telling you when the rubber is running out.
The MDM mode lets the car slip about while also delivering the kind of change of direction I previously only felt in the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lotus Elise and Exige. A 220i is a fine thing, but there’s no inkling that you could make a sporty version of that same car dance on its spinning rears through a corner. And dance it does with such ease.
Feeling it move about on your way out of a corner, the tail waggling heroically as the Cup 2s wag their fingers at the 550Nm of torque, is legendary. The M2 feels much lighter than its 1550kg kerb weight and that engine never gives up, spinning to the redline without complaint or reluctance.
And like every twin-clutch BMW, the gearbox absolutely shines with fast, whip crack shifts that you can’t hope to replicate in the six-speed manual. In its most aggressive mode, the M2 cheerfully spins its wheels between shifts to remind you what it’s like to be alive and have a car more than happy to misbehave underneath you without killing you.
I don’t even know if you can still buy one of these things. If you’ve the means and the motivation, get off the fence and order one, pronto. You’re going to get tired of hearing this, but we’re not going to have these sorts of cars for much longer, especially not bonkers straight-six, twin-turbo, rear-wheel drive sports coupes in such a small package.
The size is intrinsic to the fun, with a short wheelbase, extraordinary front and hilariously grippy rear end. The S55 is a true classic of mechanical engineering while the M2 CS will go down as one of the absolute greats. Not just a great 2 Series, not just a great M car, not even just a great BMW. It will go down as one of the best cars ever made. I’ll still be talking about this car on my deathbed.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.