PistonHeads puts two of the most highly anticipated performance cars up against each other with a the Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 Vs the BMW M2 CS. The heavily revised 4.0 version of the GTS is a gift to the enthusiast world after Porsche had installed a less than Porsche-like four cylinder in the previous version. And then there’s the M2 CS – a Competition with everyone turned up to 11. Let’s see what the 2020 version of BMW v Porsche looks like in the eyes of PistonHeads
Most pleasingly, the CS has given the M2 greater bandwidth; you want to saunter around like a boss on a wave of turbo torque in something that looks like a destickered race car? It can do that. Want to attack a road, shifting that knuckly manual as fast as you dare and getting into the excellent bite of the ceramic discs? Go ahead. Want little skids as the flourish to a corner? Happy to oblige.
Ah yes – that’s the M2 we all know and love. So powerful yet so elastic and controllable.
It’s peak M car of the charismatic yet capable hooligan mould, with fun and finesse brewed in equal measure to startling effect. The feel here, and not just because of the colour, is of a BMW in the AMG Black Seriesmould: track add-ons to a burly kerbweight shouldn’t work, but the result is an absorbing, enthralling performance car for the road, punchy and pugnacious and more than a little lovable.
Having driven both previous M2s on the track (as well as a test car completely loaded with many of the same M Performance goodies that’s on the CS) we can directly vouch for the character of the M2 at the limit. But what the CS does is tighten up that experience and deliver more directly from input to reaction.
Now onto the GTS
On the same stretch of road across Exmoor, the 718 GTS 4.0 is a model of chassis dexterity and cohesion that even the best M car in a generation can’t match. While the BMW forces a mode selection to get the very best from it (if not from the dampers, with all modes accommodating, then certainly the steering) the Porsche immediately beguiles in default setting, so much so that the wheel mounted dial goes unturned for hours. There’s no need to adjust anything, because the Porsche reeks of finely honed class before walking pace is breached – of course, the driver sits lower, but the pedals are also in a better location, their weighting more natural and the steering blessed with greater feel without requiring a button to modulate it.
On a road that causes the M2 to fidget, the Cayman glides with imperious, impenetrable control; it can be tightened up further with the Sport damper setting, though that robs the experience of some fluency. When the standard mode balances poise and comfort so well, there’s precious little desire to change. Here more than ever the benefits of a lower, better distributed kerbweight – the Porsche has near enough 150kg on the BMW – can be enjoyed and exploited; the ability to smother bumps more effectively on larger wheels (while also managing body control better) is quite something to witness. The Porsche highlights inertia in the BMW you might never have noticed, scything into bends and settling its mass, whatever the scenario, spookily well.
That idea of inertia extends from the chassis to the powertrain, too, because for all the world it seemed like the M2 rasped its way beyond 7,500rpm with precious little hesitation, only for the Porsche to show it up fairly comprehensively in throttle response and vim. Put simply, it’s very rare for a twin-turbocharged engine to match a naturally-aspirated one for outright eagerness, and for all BMW’s sterling work that’s not changing here. The new 4.0-litre isn’t as memorable as the old flat sixes – the howl is now gruffer, the appetite for revs subdued slightly – but it’s sufficiently good to feel jolly exciting in a world that doesn’t exactly enjoy a surfeit of similar configurations. The BMW’s S55 straight six remains very good; it’s simply that the Porsche’s flat-six, for a sports car installation at least, is superior.
It’s always been hard for BMW to best a rear or mid-engined Porsche in head to head tests and this is so exception. The GTS might not be a GT4 or Spyder but it enjoys an instant head-start on BMW given it’s bespoke foundations and naturally aspirated engine. Still the M2 CS shows well here and hints and what M has in store for the next generation of M2 (which crucially will continue the rear wheel drive and manual formula). We’ll have more on the 718 vs M cars this fall. Until then head over to PistonHeads for the full article. It’s worth it.