The New M4 CS Embodies Everything Wrong with Modern BMWs

Sticking a “CS” badge on a downgraded M4 GTS makes no sense.

To understand why sticking a “CS” badge on a downgraded M4 GTS (or a slightly upgraded M4 with the Competition Package, depending on how you look at it) makes no sense, you have to know what the original BMW CS model was.

In the early ’60s, BMW introduced the New Class sedans — just the next generation of BMW’s architecture and design. The 2000 was simply the base model with the larger engine, and the 2000 C and 2000CS were the coupe versions. Compared to BMW’s lineup today, it was basically the 440i. The 2000CS wasn’t anything special. Granted, it was a widely adored car for its baseline handling; the track-honed lightweight special that BMW would later develop based on the 2000CS was the 3.0 CSL — an M car before there was such a thing.

So why is BMW using the CS badging on a slightly upgraded M4? The classic car market. Original BMW 2000 CSs and 3.0 CSs are incredibly desirable at the moment because (1) they’re widely accepted as desperately pretty, charming cars, and (2) they were two of the best-handling cars in their class, if not the best. BMW is simply playing to that heritage — a heritage that has nothing to do with high-performance track cars — and making money off of a vintage naming scheme.

I have no doubt the M4 CS will be a great middle ground between the base M4 and the hardcore GTS, but will it be worth the inevitable price hike over the base M4 for 29 more horsepower and suspension that, as BMW puts it, “largely mirrors that of the M4 with Competition Package?”

BMW clearly knows M badges help sell its cars; it’s what made them famous. But now that the M4 GTS has been sold out, and there’s still a demand for a top-of-the-line “special” BMW and the “regular” M4 isn’t special enough now (I guess?), the iconic “CS” lettering has made its way back to BMW nameplates. Maybe it’s because they ran out of places to put M badging, or BMW tried “M4 M” and it didn’t look quite right. Or maybe BMW just needs to be called on its bullshit.

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