Within the high-performance smorgasbord referred to as BMW Check Fest, held this yr at New York’s Monticello Motor Membership, there have been richer, meatier dishes than the 2020 M2 CS. Amongst them: a 612-horsepower, $142,000 Alpina XB7, which plopped 5,900 surprisingly swish kilos on Monticello’s tabletop-smooth observe. The M5 and M8 Competitors (at a respective $111,095 and $134,995), whose absurdly over-sauced, 617-horsepower V-8s make them sooner than a C8 Corvette or Porsche 911 Carrera 4S from 0-60, or within the quarter-mile.

By these requirements, the limited-run M2 CS coupe appears an amuse bouche, with “solely” 444 horsepower from the twin-turbo inline-six used within the bigger M4 Competitors. However ask a subset of BMW followers — you already know, those who bitch about BMW not constructing ‘em like they used to — to call their favourite present mannequin, and the M2 CS can have them elevating arms like a classroom nerd within the entrance row.

The M2, after all, was an answered prayer for Final Driving Machine cultists in 2016: a little bit coupe with an enormous coronary heart, an elective six-speed guide, and a $55,495 value that felt like a uncommon discount in Bimmer world. Its single-turbo, N55 3.0-liter inline-six developed 365 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque, good for a 4.1-second scoot to 60 mph. By way of pure driving pleasure, the M2 was feted because the closest factor to a classic E46 M3, even when it formally descended from the BMW 2002 constructed from 1968 to 1976.

Even these stellar evaluations weren’t sufficient for the M2 to hold onto its entry-level job on the M Division. Simply three years later, the M2 was booted out, changed by the M2 Competitors, now with a “actual” M engine — the twin-turbo, “S55” inline-six with 404 horses and 406 lb-ft — from the pricier M3/M4. The Competitors’s $59,895 base value hasn’t budged between 2019 and 2021, one other rarity at BMW. Nonetheless, that’s $4,400 greater than the unique M2, and simply $100 lower than a Corvette Stingray. In different phrases, a greater automotive, however much less of a discount.

The M2 CS isn’t any discount in any respect, at $84,595. However this pocket Hercules nonetheless made fairly an impression on Monticello’s 4.1-mile circuit, and on the encompassing fall-foliage-tinged roads by way of the Catskills.

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In its subcompact class, dominance is assured by one other hand-me-down from a bully brother: the M4 Competitors’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, with 444 burly horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. And this M2 CS is a wickedly track-capable automotive, principally a roll cage and hearth extinguisher away from being a turnkey racer. BMW even developed the automotive side-by-side with an M2 CS Racing mannequin.

BMW’s selection of tire underlines the hardcore method. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2’s wrap 19-inch solid alloy wheels in a placing matte gold end. These fast-wearing, ultra-sticky Michelins are among the many world’s high street-legal observe tires. They’re not very best on this present day, with a spitting rain falling on the automobiles’ Arctic White and Misano Blue paint jobs. BMW is definitely asking U.S. consumers to signal a waiver acknowledging the Cup 2’s propensity to hydroplaning within the moist and rising uselessness as temperatures fall under 45 levels.

However the slick circumstances show instructive, eliciting deja vu from my two-day, M2 Racing Faculty at Monticello final yr — together with a full day of wheel-to-wheel racing within the rain. This newest M2’s chassis is so brilliantly pure, its dealing with so impartial, that I’m virtually instantly humping the automotive across the hilly circuit. It’s slower than I’d run within the dry, certain, however the BMW by no means hints at an off-track tour. When the M2 CS begins to push extensive or get squirrely, the mildest correction of throttle or steering places it again within the recreation. Credit score partially a typical Energetic M Differential, which retains the BMW churning by way of curves by divvying as much as 100% of torque between rear wheels, based mostly on variables akin to steering angle, throttle place and yaw price.

The inline-six emits a bruising mechanical howl to its 7,600-rpm redline, mediated by way of a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated gearbox. That glorious M DCT transmission provides $2,900, and one of the best is but to come back for our avenue drive: A typical, six-speed guide with a superbly damped, exact lever and a rev-matching operate. BMW figures a 3.8-second rip to 60 mph with the automated, or 4.0 seconds with the guide, and a 174-mph high pace.

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The six-speed M2 CS — a 444-horse BMW, with a stick! — was the dream automotive you may think, heightening the man-machine connection on a romp by way of the Catskills. And when the observe dried out within the late afternoon, and I helped myself to a dozen or so further laps, throughout which the elective carbon-ceramic brakes made a case for his or her $8,500 upcharge. (I’d nonetheless skip them to economize.)

There’s just one dumb factor about each M2’s guide technique: If stability management is on, so is rev-matching. Flip stability management off, and rev matching can be disabled. The shortage of driver selection is vexing: One would possibly wish to change rev-matching off to apply heel-and-toeing, with out dropping the protection web of stability management — these rain-slicked, forested roads being a chief candidate for that prudent selection. A driver may additionally need rev-matching on, and stability management off, to focus totally on steering and braking, or clock the quickest potential observe instances, with out being a heel-and-toe grasp. (And actually, with guide automobiles turning into rarer by the day, how many people are?) The very best compromise is the selectable M Dynamic Mode that loosens the digital leash, whereas leaving rev-matching energetic.

That apart, the M2 CS seems to be and acts the tough-guy half. A typical carbon-fiber roof weighs roughly 10 kilos, about 30 fewer than an M2 Competitors’s metal lid. Carbon-fiber strut-tower braces add stiffness and weigh 3.3 kilos. Woven fiber kinds the bulging (and vented) hood, entrance chin splitter, mirror caps, transmission tunnel and rear decklid. Regardless of the carbon bits, the M2 CS stays a chubby small coupe, at 3,638 kilos with DCT gearbox, a contact heavier than the M2 Competitors.  Carbon-ceramic brakes trim 55 extra kilos of unsprung weight. The CS’ weight acquire consists of extra oil- and engine-cooling, and a welcome M Adaptive Suspension, whose Consolation setting tames the punishing, one-note journey of earlier M2s.

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Aggression continues with a chunky, Alcantara-wrapped M steering wheel and carbon-fiber paddle shifters. Sport seats, straight from the M4 Competitors, flaunt bicep-thick bolsters and cutouts for racing harnesses, with requisite red-and-blue stitching. Extra black Alcantara seems on the sprint, door panels and middle console. A basic, spherical analog speedometer and tach inform the motive force all the pieces she or he must know. A smallish dashtop display runs the stable iDrive 6.0 infotainment system, and a CS emblem glowers from dashboard trim. The again seat is stingy as ever, however trunk area is surprisingly roomy.

Practicality received’t be top-of-mind for M2 CS consumers, nor value:  The M2 CS prices $24,700 greater than an already-spectacular M2 Competitors. The rival 2021 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Coupe, with 382 horsepower, will probably begin under $60,000 when it goes on sale subsequent yr.

The M2 CS will run glad rings round Mercedes’ strongest CLA-Class coupe, or an Audi RS3, however it’s nonetheless a splurge. With the DCT gearbox and fancy brakes, the M2 CS reaches $95,995. The $84,595 base value far overshoots the all-new 2021 M4, at $72,795 for the 479-hp base automotive (with its personal elective stick); and $75,695 for the M4 Competitors, with an elective, rear-biased AWD system. That M4 Competitors, on tempting static show in Monticello’s paddock, will ship a mighty 503 horsepower from BMW’s newest twin-turbo six. In that very same more-luxurious, one-size-up class, Mercedes provides potent V8 hot-rods within the C63 AMG and C63 S AMG coupes. At a respective $70,895 and $78,495, their twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 places out 469 or 503 horsepower, the latter matching the brand new M4 Competitors.

Exclusivity then turns into the strongest argument for the M2 CS. BMW is just constructing about 2,200 copies, of which simply 500 or so will attain our shores. U.S. manufacturing ends in December, and there are not any plans for a 2021 mannequin. The M2 CS is an excellent automotive, however it’s a BMW for the true believer — ideally, with a perception system that features exercises on tracks like Monticello.