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2021 BMW M2 CS is an instant classic – Toronto Star

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To understand what BMWs were like 20-30 years ago and how they achieved their “ultimate driving” reputation you’d have to buy a good used one and drive the snot out of it. Or travel back in time.

Some might argue that the brand lost its way and the cars they make today are too soft, too big and too disconnected. But BMW’s story is not one about forgotten roots; it is one based on the evolution of consumer demands and the challenge of meeting them.

This reminds me of an artist I listened to in my younger days: Tiësto. For those who haven’t heard of him, Tiësto was known for his euphoric trance and trippy progressive house beats and was massively popular in the late 90s and 00s. Still considered one of the best DJs in the world, Tiësto’s continued popularity can be attributed to his evolution into the pop music scene, catering to a broader base and a new generation of listeners. Like BMW, Tiësto saw where the trends were going and adapted rather than continue to appeal only to an aging demographic.

Every once in while, though, great artists and great brands remind us why they are so revered. Tiësto recently released a single under his VER WEST alias that takes older listeners like me back to the past, where we can wax nostalgic on how great things were.

BMW also released a special version of one of the oldest cars they have in their lineup: the M2 CS. Building on the excellent M2 Competiton, the CS is the M2 cranked up to 11. It is the final song in the 2-Series lineup and a fitting good-bye to one of the last true links to BMW’s past.

Adding a CS badge to an M-car means even more power, less weight and limited numbers. With only 2200 scheduled for global production, it is very limited indeed. This, of course, means a healthy price increase of $25,000. Or roughly what it costs to buy a new compact crossover. Ouch.

For that you get a bunch of carbon fibre parts that include the rear diffuser, roof, mirror caps, rear spoiler, front splitter, and even the vented hood. On the inside you’ll find carbon fibre door pulls and a carbon fibre centre console but no armrest. Like the M3 and M4 CS, the carbon and missing armrests are to save weight but bigger brakes, standard adaptive dampers and a few other bits will add some of it back. BMW hasn’t published any official figures, but a big meal will likely offset any weight savings.

The bigger news is under the hood where the S55 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six is no longer detuned and sends the full 444 hp to the rear wheels. Torque remains unchanged at 406 lb-ft.

For the first time on a CS badged car, the standard transmission is a 6-speed manual and the 7-speed DCT is optional. By some miracle, my tester was equipped with the latter (thank you BMW Canada), and having three pedals in the footwell made this M2 the most exciting car I’ve driven all year.

Draped in Misano Blue metallic the only thing missing were the epic 19-inch matte gold wheels from the car shown at the last LA Autoshow where it was revealed.

I’ve been waiting to drive this car for a while, and considering how smitten I was with the “regular” M2 competition, I knew I was in for a good experience.

Expecting an even louder, stiffer and less insulated experience, the first thing I noticed on this special M2 was its refinement and compliant ride. The CS comes standard with the M adaptive suspension and when set to comfort mode, bumps are smoothed out and rough roads won’t make you cringe. “M1” and “M2” buttons on the steering wheel allow you to customize your drive modes and have it load up instantly but it’s easy to cycle through the different modes for the dampers, engine and steering with the buttons to the left of the gearshift.

The M2 CS, given its short wheelbase and compact proportions coupled to razor sharp steering, larger brakes and a perfect driving position is about as easy to drive as cars come. The 6-speed manual is computerized, so it rev matches downshifts, holds you on hills and makes it difficult to stall. Shift action is precise and light, with a bit of that trademark notchiness going into gear. You can turn auto rev matching off by deactivating traction control but you’d better know what you’re doing and not including an option to turn it off without defeating vital safety systems seems, well, silly.

Minor quip aside, the true joy of piloting an M2 CS comes when you approach a corner. Brake, downshift, turn in, and feel the perfectly balanced chassis respond instantly. With virtually no understeer and a tail that’s happy to step out on command, the M2 is a bag of giggles that will reward even the most ham-fisted of inputs, provided you keep the car in MDM traction mode where a dollop of fun is allowed before the computer steps in and stops you from putting it into the wall. If your skill level is higher and you turn all the nannies off, this is a genuinely quick car that feels even faster than the (last-generation) M3 and M4, and will keep 911 and Corvette owners staring nervously in their rear-view mirrors.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that the CS is worth all the money over the base M2 Competition. Much of what you’re paying for here is exclusivity. But I will tell you that the performance behind the wheel is undeniably excellent and that this is easily the most exciting M car you can buy today at any price. Equip it with a manual, like this one, and driving Nirvana will be yours.

Just like Tiësto’s new retro single, the M2 CS and the M2 Competition are reminders that even though BMW has shifted some of its focus away from ultimate driving, it hasn’t lost its way. Every so often they’ll release a new classic that will take you back to the glory days.

2021 BMW M2 CS

Body style: 2-door, 4 passenger compact sport coupé

Configuration: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine: 3.0-litre inline-6 twin-turbo; Power: 444 hp @6,250 r.p.m.; Torque: 406 lb-ft @2,350-5,500 r.p.m.

Transmission : 6-speed manual

Cargo capacity: 390 litres

Fuel economy : (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km) 13.4 city; 9.6 highway; 11.7 combined

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Observed fuel economy: 13 L/100 km

Price: $97,750 (base); $99,595 (as-tested)

Website: BMW Canada

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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