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KYALAMI, Gauteng – There was a time when, if you wanted a BMW M3, you had but one choice. It had all the toys, the largest wheels in the range and max power ... and that was that. Of late, it seems that BMW has been taking notes from certain other German performance brands by creating several versions of its range-topping performance models.

A new addition

Yes, you can have an M4, an M4 with Competition Package, an M4 DTM and, at the very top of the tree, an M4 GTS (though the latter two limited-edition models have been sold out).

And as of now you can also have an M4 CS. This is the latest addition to the M4 family and it fits in somewhere in the middle of the pecking order. It isn’t as “laid back” as the M4 and M4 CP, but not quite as hardcore as the top two track specials, either.

So what’s new?

To earn its own badge and increased price (more on that later) the M4 CS has a number of revisions and upgrades. The most notable of these is a bump in power of 7 kW over the Competition Pack model.

Peak power from the turbocharged 3,0-litre inline-six is rated at 338 kW, coupled with peak torque of 600 N.m, which BMW claims endows the M4 CS with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3,9 seconds. The only transmission option is the BMW’s M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch unit. Local M4 buyers will all enjoy the M Driver’s Package, which lifts the top speed to 280 km/h.

Aesthetically speaking

Visual cues to warn other motorist include thin-spoke, light-alloy wheels shod with semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, a model-specific front splitter and a Gurney lip on the boot lid (the latter two fashioned from carbon-fibre). And, if you look closely, you’ll also notice a rear diffuser. Unlike the DTM and GTS, this car has four usable seats.

Trimmed down door cards as well as a carbon-fibre roof and bonnet help trim some 30 kg off the mass of an equivalent M4 Competition Pack car.

What’s it like to drive?

Our time in the CS was limited to a handful of kilometres, though all of them were around Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. I have to be honest that I could not feel the extra power while blasting down the circuit's long straights; whichever way you slice it, 330+ kW is going to feel quick.

Under braking and under power the CS feels a tad nervous. The rear wiggles under braking into the slower corners at the famous track. Then, when you try to feed in the power it provokes the rear end and induces oversteer. My thoughts were echoed by some experienced counterparts on the launch event ... and then highlighted even further when we all had the chance to drive various other M4 models on offer.

The DTM model was, as expected, track-focused with a nailed-down front axle, but less inclined to slide its rear end under power than the CS. Interestingly, the cars with the Competition Package were the most composed. Perhaps tyre pressures on the only CS model in attendance were incorrect, though I can’t see a tech-savvy company such as BMW making such an oversight.

Summary

Just 60 BMW M4 CS will be available locally, priced at R1 838 500 each, which makes each example more than R400 000 more expensive than the model fitted with the Competition Package. If exclusivity is a really large factor in your decision-making process, then you may be able to justify such a premium.

If it were my own money, and based on initial impressions, I would forego the extra expense and stick with the M4 Competition Package.

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