The BMW M4 CS occupies the middle ground between the standard M4 and the M4 GTS. Is it the pick of the range?

What is it?

It might seem odd to describe a near-£90,000 BMW M4 as the middle-of-the-range model, but that’s exactly what the M4 CS is.

It plugs the BMW yawning chasm between the regular £58,365 M4 and the limited edition, track-focused M4 GTS, which cost an eye-watering £120,500.

The justification for that £89,130 price tag is the use of some of the GTS’s exotic weight-saving parts. Truth be told, though, all you’re really getting from the hardcore model are its carbonfibre bonnet and lightweight door skins (more of which in a moment).

It isn't as though the CS also borrows the GTS’s trick water injection system or its fancy manually adjustable suspension. Instead, it simply uses a revised version of the same adaptive damping system that you’ll find on the standard M4.

It does get an uplift in power compared to the M4 Competition Package, though. (That’s the model that carries a modest £3000 premium over the standard M4 and lifts power and torque to 444bhp and 406lb ft.)

The CS has 454bhp and 443lb ft, which has been achieved simply through new engine management software. The CS also gets Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres - the same rubber used by the GTS.

The carbonfibre rear lip spoiler and front splitter are unique to CS, while the diffuser is taken from the GTS. BMW says the CS is 35kg lighter than a BMW compared to a regular, twin-clutch gearbox equipped M4.

The CS is not a limited-series model and BMW expects to build around 2000 examples over the next two years.

We first sampled the CS on roads near the Nürburgring back in May; now is our opportunity to drive it on more familiar, and more demanding, British roads. 

Bmw m4 cs rear cornering

What's it like?

In some ways, the CS is the M4 we’ve been waiting for, but in others, it’s extremely frustrating. Those frustrations relate to its day-to-day usability. Those skinny door cards – which are made out of compacted natural fibres – for instance, offer no storage whatsoever and do without speakers entirely. They do incorporate a little armrest, but it’s at such a sharp angle that your elbow always wants to drop off it. There’s no central armrest, either. All minor points, but between them they simply mean the CS is less convenient in everyday use than the much-cheaper standard car.

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Otherwise, it’s mostly very good news indeed. The CS's interior is excellent, with high-quality materials throughout, although the suede-trimmed steering wheel is simply too fat and the heavily bolstered seats are woefully short of lumbar support.

The adaptive dampers have been retuned for the CS to make the most of those grippy Cup 2 tyres. The chassis is only a little stiffer than the standard car’s, but it feels so much more immediate and responsive. Within a hundred metres of driving, you’re aware of how much tauter the chassis is and how much sharper the steering feels. On a smooth road, the CS is completely brilliant.

On bumpier, narrower back roads the chassis is just about on the right side of too stiff. Any firmer and the car would skip around hopelessly, tyres losing contact with the road surface at every bump or ridge. As it is, though, the CS has just enough damping quality to deal with a scruffy road and keep its tyres pressed firmly into the asphalt.

Bmw m4 cs interior

The biggest improvement over the standard M4, however, is body control. Early M4s, in particular, BMW felt wayward and loosely controlled at the rear axle, which, combined with a shortage of traction, made them spiky and nerve-wracking to drive. BMW has improved that with each subsequent model year update, but the CS does have the most cohesive and tied-together chassis of any M4 to date. Or any BMW M car for a very long time, for that matter.

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On its Cup 2 tyres, the CS finds enormous cornering grip. There’s no understeer in the chassis whatsoever on the road, while traction is now very strong indeed. Of course, those tyres will be well out of their comfort zone even on a damp road, but BMW does offer a less aggressive tyre option.

Through second, third and fourth gears, the CS feels rampantly accelerative. Its twin-turbocharged engine isn’t the most tuneful motor but there’s no doubting the performance it delivers, while throttle response is decent for a turbo engine, if not quite exceptional. The DCT twin-clutch automatic gearbox, meanwhile, feels sharp and snappy in manual mode, but the latest such gearboxes from Audi and Porsche are more responsive still. Sadly, there is no manual gearbox option for the CS.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for an everyday car, it’s very difficult to recommend the M4 CS over the more usable, and much cheaper, M4 Competition Package.

Nonetheless, BMW the M4 CS does have the best chassis in the range, and, judged purely as a driver’s car, it is the most rounded model BMW’s M division currently produces.


Location Lambourn Down, Berkshire; On sale Now; Price £89,130; Price as tested £95,380; Engine 6cyls in-line, 2979cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 454bhp @ 6250rpm; Torque 443lb ft @ 4000-5380rpm; Gearbox 7-spd twin-clutch; Kerbweight 1580kg; 0-62mph 3.9sec; Top speed 174mph

Join the debate

Add a comment…
david RS 14 July 2017

Bad trend.

Bad trend.

They should make a lighter M4 with a NA L6.

Poor BMW and M...


Symanski 9 July 2017

Worth repairing?

I guess this version might still be worth repairing after BMW leave UK customers high and dry with unreliable engines. Engines who's components are still covered in the USA. Why not in the UK?

Because BMW can get away with it.

chilly 8 July 2017

Welcome Dan!

Good to see Dan Prosser at Autocar, he was the best writer at EVO magazine ans I always enjoyed his articles. I wondered what had happened when I saw a rather curt 'Goodbye and Good Luck' on the Editorial in this months issue.

Glad to see your talents have been recognised Dan and I will look forward to reading your car opinions on a more regular basis now.