With South Africa ranked the third-biggest market in the world for BMW’s M products, it was only a matter of time before the M Festival visited our shores.
It’s a regular event in popular markets such as China, Germany and Japan, and last weekend it was Mzansi’s chance to get a preview of upcoming M models and tackle the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit north of Johannesburg.
It was also the perfect time for the company to launch the new and much-anticipated M4 CS.
Only 3 000 units of the CS — described by BMW South Africa CEO Tim Abbott “as bridging the gap between the M4 Coupé with Competition Package and the uncompromisingly track-focused BMW M4 GTS” — will be produced between now and 2019 at the company’s original plant in Munich, Germany.
Whereas the GTS is definitely more hard-core — complete with a roll cage that takes up the space where the rear seats should be — the CS is perhaps a little more tame. But only a little.
The low-slung coupé has a no-nonsense appearance and will undoubtedly turn every head it passes by.
The car is dominated by a prominent front end, which houses LED headlights and large, three-section air intakes. Besides enhancing the aesthetics of the vehicle, they feed air to the engine and the brakes.
Also adding to its sporty nature is a fair amount of carbon fibre. At the rear — which is what most motorists will probably see of this car — is an exposed spoiler lip on the boot made from this exclusive material. A model-specific front splitter has been fitted to the nose of the car.
Other standout exterior features are the sporty M mirrors and prominent wheel arches, which help protect the 19-inch (up front) and 20-inch (rear) tyres, while the back lights come with LED technology with 3-D effect.
The cabin makes it blissfully easy to live with the M4 CS every day: the sports seats are trimmed in a combination of leather and suede-feel Alcantara.
Standard features include automatic climate control, a navigation system and a thumping hi-fi unit.
But what lies at the heart of any M vehicle, with the CS being the perfect example, is the powerplant sitting under that prominent sloping bonnet.
The 3.0-litre six-cylinder twinturbo performance engine is tuned to an impressive 338kW, which means it beats the magical four-second mark by a 10th of a second in the 0-100km/h sprint.
Adding to life in the fast lane is an electronically limited top speed of 280km/h.
Standard on the vehicle is a seven-speed M double-clutch automatic transmission with manual changes via shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Also expect Adaptive M suspension tuned to deliver on the road — as well as on the track, obviously.
Which brings me back to Kyalami.
Members of the media were spoilt with three laps around this famous circuit — mind you, it was under the careful tutelage of a professional driving instructor.
The car felt oh-so comfortable belting down the long, sloping home straight before hitting a sharp left.
Plant your right foot and the M4 CS definitely feels quick. Go heavy on the brakes as you enter the corner and your speed decreases instantly, with neither a shudder nor a shake.
Although it is priced at R1 838 500, many enthusiasts will not think twice about forking out such an amount for this performance vehicle.
The M brand just continues to grow here, with 2016 showing a jump of 9% in sales compared to the previous year and 2017 showing a similar trend.
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