Porsche 911 GTS 2017 review
The latest 911 to come to market is the best of the bunch. The GTS, a more powerful, more pretty version of the Carrera S that hits the 911 sweet spot like a perfectly played tennis forehand.
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A brief drive in BMW's sensational-looking M4 CS tacked on to a visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed? Who could possibly say no? Happily, it turns out to be a car that has you saying YES!
Twenty-four hours ago, this car was still in Germany. Driven through France and on to a train to cross the English Channel, it arrived at Goodwood Motor Circuit just after midnight. Muddy and dirty from its international dash, the blue BMW M4 CS still looked terrific under the leaden sky.
This was to be a quick and dirty drive, a furtive splash and dash before heading over to the Festival of Speed and I had to be up early before the traffic. Jet lag and rain be damned, I was going to drive this thing. After all, it had come a long way. And so had I.
|BMW M4 2017: GTS|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
|Price from||No recent listings|
The CS picks up a few styling goodies. The most obvious ones on the outside are the fixed carbon front splitter and the lip on the boot is also made of the lovely composite. Slung under the boot is a big diffuser, which BMW reckons creates real downforce. The taillights are the GTS' OLEDs with tricky animations that I obviously couldn't see from the driver's seat. There's more carbon on the roof and bonnet, too.
The M steering wheel can be wrapped in Alcantara (like the one I drove), there are aluiminium sill plates, blue and red M stitching everywhere and the new door cards and door pulls. The seats are the very grabby M sets with those naff light-up M4 badges in the backs, but other than that they look and feel great, as long as you're not too generously proportioned in the love-handle department.
Unlike the GTS, the CS has a back seat and the roll-cage is optional, so it's back to standard M4 fare for occupants. The front has two cupholders but the new door skins mean the bottle holders are goners. Boot space is roughly the same as the rest of the 4 Series Coupe range, a commendable 445 litres.
There's a bit of less is more with the CS, something Porsche has done extremely well over the years and BMW itself has had a few cracks at as well. I drove a German, left-hand-drive car so there's not much point going into great detail. The car did have the higher-spec stereo and iDrive system, but lost the front-door speakers (the inner door skins are made from a similar material as the i8's). There was also no reversing camera or head-up display.
Pricing in the UK is a stout £30,000 over the M4, suggesting an increase here of at least $50,000. Still, it'll be a heck of a lot cheaper than the strictly limited $295,000 GTS.
The competition sport runs BMW's 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six. Power is up by 26kW to 338kW (or 7kW more than a "regular" Competition) while torque is up by a sturdy 50Nm to a nice round 600Nm. Compared to the GTS, power is down 30kW but torque is the same. The redline rises to a satisfying 7600rpm, all of this courtesy of new engine management rather than new components.
The seven-speed DCT reappears (with requisite software changes for the CS) driving only the rear wheels and sends the fettled M4 to 100km/h in a scant 3.9 seconds. There isn't a manual and BMW seems unlikely to budge on that, but you never know.
Yes, well. My time with the car was short and very, very enthusiastic. I'd also neglected to reset the trip computer or switch it from mpg. Official European figures put the CS at 8.4L/100km.
BMW's man on the ground threw me the key and gave me some sage advice: "Don't die." Normally that's fairly easy, but today's drive presented me with a series of challenges. 1. I had no idea where I was going. 2. The roads were super greasy (the tyres are, shall we say, lightly treaded). 3. It was left-hand drive in a right-hand drive country.
The CS is based on the crackerjack M4 GTS, a car already famed for its difficult nature when pushed to its limits. While there wouldn't be too much limit exploration today, that was certainly in the back of my mind, as was the knowledge the roads I'd be on were narrow and I was on the wrong side of the car. So, pretty easy, then.
The CS is still a little on the tubby side - at 1580kg, it's 32kg down on the standard car with a carbon roof and bonnet. Inside you'll find a strap where the doorhandles used to be (these are great, I'm sure editor Flynn and I will argue that one) and might save a gram or two. The door cards are made of a material that reminded me of the i8's shredded rubber and cotton and whatever else is in it, and added to the harder feel of the car.
Firing up doesn't feel a heck of a lot different to the normal car, but as soon as I grasp the chunky wheel and start manoeuvring, it feels a bit more keyed into the road surface. As the speed rises, I could feel the constantly changing road surface beneath the 265/35 Michelin Sport Cup 2s. The changes to the electric steering take none of the sharpness away but do deliver even better feel. The drop in front wheel size to 19-inches from the GTS' 20s has also helped (the rears are 20s).
What's most surprising is that it rides far more convincingly than the M4 Competition I last drove. While that car is still a riot, it seems the work done to tame the worst excesses of the GTS has also sorted the worst of the standard and Competition cars. The ride is more compliant over the sharp stuff, leaving you less worried about the car being bounced off-line by bumps or scraggy edges. All this along with the new rear suspension set is the key to what makes this car brilliant.
I mentioned it was slippery, didn't I? Take a left out of the Goodwood circuit (as opposed to Lord March's front driveway) and already the traction system is cutting in. But it also let the wheels slip a bit, the car jumping around just enough to let you know it's broken traction. That was slightly disconcerting at first, but another pointer to what the CS is all about. Looser reins, better control.
Blasting free of a slow-moving Honda Jazz and with a rapidly drying road ahead, the CS came alive. The hike in torque and the softer rear end deliver brutal acceleration with less tail-wagging histrionics than the GTS.
With the transmission set in its track-focused mode (as opposed to just selecting Sport+), the gears banged home with precision and just a little bit of violence. The brakes joined the party as I went as close as I dared to the walls and hedges on the edge of the road, wiping off speed. The sticky tyres performed well out of glassy corners and barrelling under a canopy of trees wasn't as nerve-wracking as it could have been.
It feels lighter but more tied down, tighter but not uncomfortable. Most of all it's confidence and awe-inspiring. The CS did the 'Ring in 7:38 and by all accounts is far less hair-raising than the GTS. Job done, then.
There's little to grumble about - As far as the reversing camera goes, I don't know and BMW won't yet tell me if there's going to be one, but if there isn't, I must wag my finger. At this price (I reckon it will be close to $200k, which side of that figure is currently anyone's guess), deleting the reversing camera is a bit rubbish. Also, the exhaust isn't as shouty or as bangy as one or two of its rivals.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
An M4 ships with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls. Exact specification is yet to be released, but it's unlikely there will be AEB or other cleverness.
BMW supplies a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with three years roadside assist into the bargain on M cars, and there's probably no reason the CS will be any different.
You can buy a service plan on other M cars, which means you can pre-pay for scheduled servicing. Your dealer holds all the cards on that one.
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$108,790 – 125,070||2017 BMW M4 2017 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$94,990 – 139,800||2017 BMW M4 2017 COMPETITION Pricing and Specs|
|(base)||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$97,350 – 111,870||2017 BMW M4 2017 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|COMPETITION||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$94,990 – 139,800||2017 BMW M4 2017 COMPETITION Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|
“Drive over, I was able to take stock of what M GMbH has achieved here. The M4, while terrific, feels heavy, is heavy and has the slow-ish turn-in to prove it. The CS banishes that, with a more karty feel. There's more fun, more enjoyment, more security than the bitey-fighty GTS and it's a more accomplished - dare I say it, more M2-like - sports car.”
Does the CS make you wonder whether the M4 might be the car for you?