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The 2020 BMW M2 CS.

The Globe and Mail

The line between hoarding and collecting can get blurry, but make no mistake, there is a line. If, say, total strangers are willing to start a bidding war for whatever it is you’ve been accumulating, then – congratulations – you’re definitely a collector. If nobody wants what you’ve got, well, that’s not good.

Car people have real trouble staying on the right side of this collecting/hoarding line. The problem is that we have a tendency to hoard weird old cars, often believing they will someday become valuable collectables. But, in most cases, we’re wrong.

There are countless ratty old BMWs out there – including in my garage – but only a select few are destined for collectable status on par with legends like the 1987 M3 or 2000 Z8. It’s not often obvious which cars are future collectables, but in this case, it is. The BMW M2 CS is an instant classic.

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There are only around 100 of these coming to Canada, and the production line in Germany stopped making them as of January, according to Kevin Marcotte, national manager of BMW M. It’s the end of the line for the M2, and therefore also the end of the line for the best modern BMW.

This littlest, most affordable M car arrived in 2016, and for a few years was the best-selling M-division model in Canada, Marcotte said. It brought younger buyers to the M brand, an overwhelming majority of whom were men, he added. More than 15 per cent of M2 drivers opted for the manual gearbox, and more than 30 per cent of owners are likely to drive the car on a racetrack at some point as well, Marcotte explained.

In other words, the enthusiast market is alive and well, and the M2 was, improbably, a smash hit for BMW in Canada.

Today, with the exceedingly rare “CS” edition, BMW is sending the M2 out with a bang. As far as special editions go, it’s entirely predictable, following the usual more-power, more-carbon formula that Porsche and AMG have also been using for years to reliably empty the wallets of car enthusiasts. The CS has 40 more horsepower than the already-overpowered M2 Competition, bringing the total to 444 hp. There’s a whole lot of carbon fibre everywhere; the roof and hood are made out of the stuff, and it’s spattered throughout the cabin too.

To be clear, $97,750 is a ludicrous price tag. The M2 CS costs $25,000 more than the M2 Competition for no justifiable reason other than that BMW knows it will easily sell every last one of them. Car people aren’t a strictly rational bunch.

Sitting in the driver’s seat and looking over your shoulder, it’s shocking to discover there’s hardly any car there. It’s like the back half was put in a trash compactor. The M2 is refreshingly tiny, at least by modern standards. (In reality, it’s about the same size as a 3 Series sedan from the early ’00s, which gives you an idea of just how much cars have ballooned in size over the years.) Still, the M2 looks good – so good, in fact, that it’s low-key depressing to park it next to some of the newer, more aesthetically-challenged BMWs.

Carbon fibre adorns the exterior and interior of the M2 CS.

The Globe and Mail

The car feels like it’s wrapped around you. The steering is heavy (in every driving mode) and full of feel when you really need it. The fat tires follow every little rut and camber on the pavement. The CS demands your attention, lest it follow a camber right off the road like a dog after a squirrel.

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Thankfully, BMW didn’t make the same mistake it did with previous special editions like the old M3 CSL; the M2 CS is available with your choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. If you’re concerned about future collectability, the manual is the way to go.

The notoriously peaky torque curve of BMW’s twin-turbo straight-six isn’t as evident as it was in the M2 Competition. The torque delivery feels more predictable and usable here. The clutch action is pleasantly light, and the adaptive dampers at their most comfortable make the ride just plush enough to live with.

Don’t misunderstand though, this car is still vulgar and unhinged. It changes direction like a person with zero attention span. The rear wheels always want to break free, and they will, frequently, if you start turning off the traction control. On dry roads, at least, the CS always feels manageable and thrilling. On wet pavement, it may soil a few underpants. On a racetrack, it could very well be addictive.

If, after reading this, your instinct is to hoard one of these limited-edition cars in the hope that it will soon begin to appreciate in value, well, there are much easier and safer ways to invest your money. This car is too much fun to be squirreled away in a climate-controlled garage.

Because the M2 has been such a hit for BMW and so beloved by a younger generation of enthusiasts, there will almost certainly be an all-new M2 arriving in a year or two. This isn’t the last of its kind, but it is a high-water mark for modern BMWs, and it will be missed.

The Globe and Mail

Tech specs

2020 BMW M2 CS
  • Base price: $97,750 ($99,595 as tested)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo I6
  • Transmission/drive: six-speed manual, seven-speed double-clutch automatic / rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 kilometres): 13.0 combined (est.)
  • Alternatives: Porsche 718 GTS 4.0, BMW M2 Competition, BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63, Jaguar F-Type V6, Mustang Shelby GT500, a pair of Volkswagen Golf Rs

Looks

Less wild than a Honda Civic Type-R, more handsome than a Subaru WRX STI, more exciting than a VW Golf R and more spacious than a Porsche 718. It’s fast and furious for grown-ups.

Interior

The cabin has plenty of space in the front seats but doesn't feel like the interior of a six-figure car.

The Globe and Mail

Perfectly bolstered seats, plenty of space (for two), but it doesn’t really feel like a six-figure car.

Performance

The M2 CS is about as fun to drive as modern cars get.

Technology

It’ll burn rubber. That’s all the technology you need on a car like this, isn’t it?

Cargo

It has a usable trunk and what passes for rear seats, which makes it much more practical than a Porsche 718.

The verdict

An instant classic, one of M Division’s best-ever cars.

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