Wheels of Fortune | BMW M2 CS

Yes, yes, more M2 CS content. But we make no apology for being all agog about BMW M's latest. The combination of an M3 Competition-spec powertrain, the M2's pugnacious attitude and the CS refinements should make for a phenomenal driver's car. Helps that it looks damn cool, too...

But there's no escaping the fact that the M2 CS is quite expensive, Β£75k being a lot of money for a car that can surely trace a few bit back to a 220d. It happened when the M4 CS arrived, too, at nearly Β£90,000. We'll hope that the same as happened with the M4 - where cars like this 100-mile example are for sale at Β£60k - with the M2 equivalent but, for the sake of this feature, we'll assume that a CS will cost its buyer exactly Β£75,320.

The challenge, then, is to find an ostensibly similar car - one that can deliver thrills on road and track, with everyday usability thrown into the mix - for similar money from the classifieds. Between Β£70,000 and Β£80,000 should open up all manner of options, even with the mandatory criteria of at least 3,000cc of cubic capacity, less than 15,000 miles and rear-wheel drive. Failing all those, each contestant has a wild card consideration, too...

Rules of Engagement

Price: Β£70-80k
Mileage: Less than 25k
Driven wheels: Rear
Engine position: Front
Engine size: Dealer's choice

Bill Shepherd Ford Mustang F5

We have to give BMW the benefit of the doubt this week. Chances are the CS will be quite special; its maker having rarely missed the target when it comes to the end-of-run models it has made worthy of the Coupe Sport designation. But there is off-the-peg tailoring - and then there's bespoke. Roll forward the Bill Shepherd Ford Mustang F5, built specifically for the Festival of Speed in 2017.

Now, admittedly even the latest (arguably best-ever) Mustang is not the most obvious plan B for the average M2 buyer - let alone one who has opted to stump up the extra cash to access the CS's special sauce. Ford's favoured son is not light nor small, and with the best will in the world, it is not agile either - or not when compared to the direction-changing abilities of BMW's coupe at any rate. But this Mustang has had the full chassis makeover - i.e. springs, dampers and anti-roll bars - with the sole aim of making it get up Goodwood's famous hill quicker than you can say "Lee Iacocca".

Then there's that engine. Much has rightly been made of the CS's new output from a peachier version of the S55 unit - a turbocharged six-pot already renowned for slinging smaller M cars violently in the right direction - but it is not a V8. A V8 is better. And in case there was any doubt about Ford's 5.0-litre motor doing its job properly, it has earned not only an in-house boost kit, but also a Kenne Bell 'Mammoth' supercharger, which, like a big gulp cup size, surely needs no further description.

At any rate, the combination has delivered a claimed 800hp, which tumbles from a Borla exhaust at what you'd assume is an enormous crescendo. Or sufficient for the team to have received 'countless' accolades at FoS anyway. So unless you're a shy and retiring sort - i.e. not the type to be seriously considering a gold-wheeled BMW coupe - the F5 is almost certain to prove a cheek-damager on the grin score. And while it's potentially not going to do the same on the 'care-free mileage' front (it was built partly as a research and development project, after all) you're never going to have to see another one or tire of telling people what makes it special. (NC)

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Joker - Porsche Cayman GT4

Clearly this is less a joker and more a serious consideration - snookered in this respect only by Matt's understandable assistance on the rival being front-engined. Aside from that, the previous GT4 has it all: stunning handling, brilliant engine and sky-high desirability - it remains a class favourite and is hugely worthy of attention in the new vs used stakes.

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Mercedes-AMG C63 Black Series

AMG's C63 Black Series did exactly to the W204 C-Class range what the M2 CS has done to the 2 Series line-up, only with ten times more aggression. Remember that hand built M156 V8? What. An. Engine. Ferocious, explosive, revtastic; I'll bet you a million pounds that BMW's tuned-up S55 straight-six comes nowhere near close to matching it for theatre, let alone punch. Shoehorned into the W204's bay, the legendary 6.2 motor produces its peak of 517hp when spinning at 6,800rpm, at which time those thunderous vocals were at their most demonic.

You might argue that in direct comparison with the M2 CS the Black's larger footprint and inevitable weight disadvantage will lend the Beemer with a more delicate balance. And that the BMW's DCT will be quicker and more responsive to AMG's eight-year-old seven-speed MCT. That all may be true. But as a package, the C63 Black Series is nothing short of a masterpiece in cohesive engineering, with a motor that feels perfectly sewn into a chassis so predictable and on your side. Beneath the Black's terrifying demeanour there actually lives a machine of endless adjustability and fluidity.

BMW's designers must be applauded for the job they've done on the M2 CS, as it looks fantastic. Next to the muscular form of the AMG Black Series, though, it looks skinny and, well, like David to AMG's Goliath. Heck, I even like that the car advertised here even comes without the Aero Kit, as it leaves that unforgettable M156 to do the talking. For me, even with the AMG's disadvantage of age, this one's no contest. (SS)

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Joker - Lotus 3-Eleven

If you drop the requirement for having the engine at the front, you could have a car that leaves both the M2 CS and that Black Series looking obese. Just remember to pack a rain coat, because the 3-Eleven does sacrifice a roof to achieve its 925kg kerbweight...

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What a decision to have to make. There can be little doubt that the upcoming M2's combination of talents will be a devilishly attractive one, but both choices here show what can be achieved thinking a little more... laterally.

That Mustang really looks something special, taking what the car does well - seize the attention and burn tyres - and upping the ante pretty significantly. That it enjoys unique status in the Mustang community, and has the Goodwood history, does make it really interesting. I imagine it would be a very hard car to hand back if presented with the keys. Knowing Nic's fondness for the overpowered and the slightly silly, I'm sure his eyes will be glued to the lotto results tonight (with fingers very firmly crossed).

But that Black Series. It's going to take something a lot more special than a Mustang, even an 800hp Mustang, to topple the C63 here as an almost-sensible CS alternative. Chiefly it's because of that engine, which is every bit as wonderful as Sam suggested, but also because it's part of a package - great chassis, brooding good looks, Merc quality - that complement it so well. It's a muscle car, the finest of AMG's hot rods, but a proper driver's car, too. Upgraded or not, the Mustang could well feel like an engine with a Mustang trying to cling on. That Sam's wild card is wilder (and therefore better) secures him victory.

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Comments (32) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ducnick 10 Nov 2019

    Cutting through the twaddle you can buy a 2015 mustang for 30k with very low miles. Throw £15k at it for the whipple and suspension bits and hey presto, a similarly sorted car for £45k. You could even buy a brand new one with mag ride all the toys and supercharge it for under £60k.
    Given the criteria of the article would a used gt350 not be a better choice?

  • jakeb 10 Nov 2019

    Avoiding the old mustang, flood damaged merc and 2 seater porsche, surely the obvious answer to the brief is to take the 100mile m4 cs for 70k with a 10k of cashback?

  • spikyone 10 Nov 2019

    First, the criteria in the text don't match the "Rules of Engagement".

    Second, taking the criteria to be: Front engine, RWD, at least 3 litres, less than 15k miles, and £70-£80k, those are incredibly mundane choices.
    Using those criteria you could own a Vantage N430, V12 S, or AMR; if you really wanted a Merc you could have an AMG GT S; if you want something even more PH there's even a Sagaris listed in the classifieds.

    With all of that, you've picked a tarted-up Mustang and a saloon-based Merc coupé? Sad times at PH towers.

  • GTEYE 10 Nov 2019

    Surely one of the biggest real world rivals for the CS is BMW’s own M2 Competition pack. Materially the same car, same engine and yours for £45k with delivery miles. Pay the extra £30k off your mortgage or into your pension....simples!

  • s m 10 Nov 2019

    For me only the Ford is a real rival
    i.e. offers 4 seats so can use car for more journeys and a manual gearbox

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