BMW is taking the granular infill of its model lineup very, very seriously. If the M4 with the Competition package isn’t enough for you, but you found the hard-core GTS a touch too much, the M division’s offering the new M4 CS, introduced at the Shanghai auto show. What’s more, the new CS signals a distinct pyramid for the M cars. This isn’t going to be the last CS we see. You’ll have your standard models, your Competition package cars, the special-edition CS machines, and finally, the GTS or equivalent track-oriented automobiles.
Compared with a Competition package M4, the CS has 10 more horsepower under its carbon-fiber hood, pushing the total to 454. BMW says this punts the CS to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, which matches our test of a 2016 Competition-pack-equipped car. Top speed is 174 mph, and BMW estimates that consumption on the Euro cycle will stand at 28 mpg. That’s with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. As was the case with the GTS, there won’t be a manual.
Underneath, the suspension is largely unchanged from the Competition package, featuring forged-aluminum links and hub carriers. Said hubs bolt to 19 x 9 front and 20 x 10 wheels unique to the CS, shod in non-U.S. markets with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The sticky Pilots measure 265/35R-19 up front and 285/30R-20 at the rear. Downgrading to a less track-focused Michelin tire is a no-cost option, but good luck matching the CS’s 7:38 lap time around the Nürburgring without them. American customers, presumably more likely to use their M4s for commuting, get Pilot Super Sports as the standard tire. Behind the wheels, the CS features aluminum-hatted iron rotors with four-piston front calipers and two-pot rear units.
To manage airflow, the CS gets its very own unique front splitter crafted from carbon fiber, while it wears the rear diffuser from the GTS. On the decklid, this latest M4 sports a tidy Gurney-beflapped spoiler reminiscent of the unit found on the Corvette Z06.
Inside, the lightweight M sport seats get leather/microsuede upholstery, while the fabric door pulls cribbed from the GTS ape some of that Porsche RS steez. The CS also gets its badder brother’s plant-based composite inner door panels. Naturally, the dash features an embossed CS emblem, so your passengers know exactly which M4 you splashed out for.
If the water-injected GTS felt like overkill—or you missed out on one of the few cars allocated to American dealers—the CS isn’t what we’d call a terrible consolation prize. While it gives up 39 horsepower to the GTS, buyers get a sizable helping of that car’s aesthetic and aerodynamic trimmings. And for some, it’ll undoubtedly stand as the sweet spot in BMW’s ever-expanding line.