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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The CS makes the same dodgy first impressions as other M2s. Prod the promising red starter button and the noise that erupts through the firewall is gruff but unexotic. Blip the throttle and there’s a diesely grumble to the six-cylinder’s timbre. 

It also starts off in the wrong modes, every damn time. At start-up, the CS frustratingly defaults to Efficient engine, Sport steering, and Sport suspension. So you get a medium-uncomfortable ride, semi musclebound steering, and maximum lazy engine. Quickly, this combo becomes tiresome. 

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Best bet is to save a pair of go-to settings via the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel. Sport engine, Comfort suspension and Comfort steering with traction control on is a good M1 mode, for everyday mooching. 

Sport Plus engine, Sport ride and Comfort steering (it’s far too heavy in any other setting) is a classic M2 mixture. Better still if you have the traction control pegged back a notch in that mode too. Spec the DCT gearbox and you can even dial up or down the shift speed – it’s superb on full attack, without the gratuitous head-nod pause that blights the M3 and M4.

The engine is probably the least impressive piece of the puzzle here – but it’s still a good one. It sounds a tad industrial, and there’s noticeable lag if you leave the car in a higher gear and ask the turbos to haul you along, but if anything this adds to the CS’s yobbish character when the boost arrives. 

Cold, hard numbers say the M2 CS is 0.2sec faster from 0-62mph than an M2 Competition. So yes, this is a very fast car. Not night-and-day, see-ya-later quicker than an M2 Comp, but enough to be on its way to justifying that £75k sticker. Traction is excellent given 406lb ft is rampaging through the rear wheels alone. Michelin’s latest Pilot Sport Cup tyre deserves the applause here, though you can spec a less track-biased tyre if you’re worried about wet-weather whoopsies. 

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Mind you, we drove the M2 CS in the torrential downpours of a typical British summer, and it’s at least fifty-three times less spiteful or vindictive than the old M4. You can always sense when the rear is about to let go, and though you’ve got to be quick to sort it out because the wheelbase is pretty much square, the clever MDM traction control setting can cradle even the most pig-headed, ham-fisted novice in its electronic safety net.

Our test car was a proper Christmas tree. As well as the DCT transmission replacing the standard six-speed stick-shift, it brandished £6,250-worth of carbon-ceramic brakes. They account for a 22kg weight saving, and 22 per cent more bling thanks to gold calipers. The outright stopping power isn’t the best in the business (try a Porsche for that), but the pedal feel is superb and they don’t squeak even when they’re cold, or recently abused. 

The CS builds on the Comp’s reputation for tenacious front-end grip. It’s pointy, agile and feels like it’d do a barrel roll before it conceded to understeer. The front’s so tied down, it gives you the confidence to use it like a hinge for the rear to pivot around, even though the steering lacks any outright feel and the wheel itself appears to be a party balloon that terrifying clowns use to fashion latex giraffes. 

Refreshingly, the CS feels small on the road. It’s hunkered-down and purposeful. The ride is firm but delivers outstanding body control – you’d never guess this is a distant M240i relative. It’s equally rewarding to carve accurate lines leaning on the monumental reserves of grip, or to grow horns and set about a B-road like a cartoon. It rarely feels like it weighs well over 1,500kg.

You sense how stiff the structure is – under the bonnet, there’s the same carbon strut brace as an M4's. If you concentrate, you also decipher the clues that the centre of gravity is now lower, thanks to the carbon roof. The M2 wants to change direction, duck, weave, bob and generally show off. Above all, it’s huge fun. Old-school stuff. A taut rear-drive platform and this much punch couldn’t fail to be, really.  

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