For all the complaints that the M brand has been diluted over the years, BMW’s performance division can still deliver the goods. And arguably the closes to the original E30 M3’s ethos is the BMW M2 Competition. However, for 2021 it’s joined by a limited-edition version, the BMW M2 CS. But while the CS is fast enough to out-run a Bentley Flying Spur, is worth considering over the ‘base’ M2 Competition?
What makes the 2021 BMW M2 CS different from the ‘regular’ M2 Competition?
The standard 2021 BMW M2 Competition is already a fairly sporty coupe.
It has a mildly-detuned version of the outgoing M4’s 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6, Car and Driver reports. In the M2 Competition, it’s rated at 405 hp and 406 lb-ft. That goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, MotorTrend reports. The latter comes with launch control, but the rev-matching manual is faster. In Car and Driver’s hands, an automatic BMW M2 Competition went 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, while the manual model needed 3.9 seconds.
However, the 2021 BMW M2 CS is even more powerful. It has the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 but boosted to the M4 Competition’s level, Car and Driver reports. That means 444 hp, though torque remains the same, Roadshow reports. As a result, 0-60 time drops to a claimed 3.8 seconds with the DCT. But the extra power isn’t the only thing that separates the M2 CS from the M2 Competition.
The BMW M2 CS comes standard with M-tuned adaptive suspension, which isn’t available on the M2 Competition, Motor1 reports. The CS also comes with a standard carbon-fiber roof, front splitter, rear diffuser, rear spoiler, ventilated hood, and mirror caps. The transmission tunnel is also made from carbon fiber. Plus, the M2 Competition’s active limited-slip differential has also been reprogrammed, Top Gear reports.
The BMW M2 CS’s standard brakes are identical to the M2 Competition’s brakes. However, buyers can spec carbon-ceramic ones instead, The Drive reports, as well as Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 ‘connected’ tires. Besides the DCT and matte-gold-colored wheels, those are the only options the M2 CS offers. The extra Alcantara in the interior, though, is standard.
But there’s one more big difference between the two coupes: price. The 2021 BMW M2 Competition starts at $58,900. The M2 CS, though, starts at $83,600.
The 2021 BMW M2 CS could be “a future classic,” Evo says
The base 2021 BMW M2 Competition has plenty going for it. It’s more capable than the earlier M2, Road & Track reports, “a more complete M car, better able to play that dual-role of fun sports car and luxury commuter.” And when Automobile named it an All-Star, one reviewer said that it’s “’ the BMW that best captures the spirit of the 2002 era more than anything in the marque’s stable.’” But what about the M2 CS?
Throttle House calls it “the last great BMW M car.” The extra output means the CS “absolutely flies,” Evo reports, and even with the optional Michelin tires, it’s “a very fluid car to drive.” The M2 CS is easier to handle than the M4, Evo reports, and in Comfort Mode, delivers decent ride quality. And the steering has fond echoes of past BMWs, Motor1 reports. It’s simply a fun car to drive.
Admittedly, it’s not perfect. The 6-speed manual’s throws are on the long side, Motor1 reports, and the clutch is a bit too light. The interior, though it has plenty of carbon fiber and Alcantara, isn’t exactly on the near-$100,000 level. And Evo reports the carbon-ceramic brakes aren’t quite a match for Porsche’s best. Though admittedly, while the similarly-priced 718 Cayman GT4 is an even more focused sports car, it’s also a noticeably less-pleasant daily-driver.
Is it worth considering over the standard car?
Speaking of price, that’s arguably the BMW M2 CS’s biggest problem. True, it feels a bit more controlled than the standard M2 Competition, and in some ways, more special. But unless you’re on a track or flying down a back road, the difference is “subtle,” Roadshow reports. And again, as a daily-drivable sports car, the M2 Competition is an excellent choice, Roadshow and Automobile report.
So, is the BMW M2 CS worth buying over the M2 Competition? That’s the near-$25,000 question—and the answer is, perhaps unsatisfyingly, it depends.
If you want a fairly comfortable sports car that can handle commuting duties, the cheaper M2 Competition will likely be the more logical choice. Not to mention easier to find. According to “’ a source close to the company,’” only about 400 CS models will make it to the US, Autoblog reports.
However, these CS sentiments bring to mind similar notions expressed about the 1 Series M Coupe. Like the BMW M2 CS, it was a limited-run car with parts borrowed from more expensive M models. And today, it’s one of the most sought-after modern BMWs on the used market.
That might be the best way to justify why someone would pick the M2 CS over the M2 Competition. As with M cars of the past, you have to drive it to understand.
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