Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

One area where the Porsche – undoubtedly the BMW’s closest rival – comes out on top concerns power to weight. With 282bhp per tonne, the M2 CS is hardly limp, but the Cayman GT4 manages 292bhp and the Lotus Exige more than 300bhp, even in its mildest form.

What those figures don’t convey is the BMW’s ability to deliver an explosive degree of torque at almost any moment. No, in today’s world, the M2 CS doesn’t feel heart-in-your-mouth fast – even if the 1.3sec it takes to blast from 30mph to 50mph in second gear and the 2.5sec to stride from 50mph to 70mph in fourth allude to serious pace – but it is ready to shift at delectably short notice.

M2 CS is wonderfully agile and all of a piece by the standards of a 1575kg performance saloon, yet its dynamics also stretch to easy everyday usability, even on UK roads.

The S55’s muscularity and breadth are useful on the public road, and although we would have preferred a test car with its standard-fit manual gearbox, BMW’s £2645 dual-clutch option is thrillingly slick and quick in operation, notwithstanding the odd clunky shift at low speeds.

It is, in short, an awesomely capable powertrain and one that doesn’t require constant shifting and protracted throttle openings to keep on the boil. In terms of sound and response, this straight six also leaves very little to be desired in the context of turbocharged engines.

As for outright pace, our telemetry-measured 0-60mph time of 4.1sec falls fractionally short of the official 4.0sec claim to 62mph. On the other hand, the M2 CS was a full second quicker to 150mph than the 503bhp Mercedes-AMG C63 S. Certainly, it has the pace to match the price.

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Aside from the transmission, the main option that owners will need to consider are the expensive carbon-ceramic brakes. Undoubtedly they stop the car well, though on the road any improvement over the standard cast-iron items will be academic. They’re also slightly too keen to bite initially, but thereafter easy enough to modulate with familiarity.