BMW M3 CS
BMW M3 CS £86,425
WE SAY: THE M DIVISION RESPONDS TO THE ALFA
ROMEO GIULIA QV
Another update for the BMW M3?
It’s a whole new version. This is the BMW M3 CS, resplendent in matte blue and signalling the return of a name last used for perhaps the best E46 M3 of all. Whereas the old CS was a more habitable version of the road-racer M3 CSL, the new one is the hardest-cored M3 you can buy new. While a regular M3 starts below £60,000, a CS will set you back over £86k. You can put some of that down to its limited run; of a 1,200car total, just 100 will come to the UK.
What’s different, then?
There’s a lot of carbon-reinforced plastic to help cut some weight. The bonnet, roof, front splitter and rear diffuser are all made of the stuff, though the CS’s 1,585kg total is a mere 10kg lighter than a stock M3, a figure not helped by the paddleshift auto being your only gearbox option. Perhaps more importantly, it’s around 150kg slimmer than a Mercedes-AMG C63S, its chief foe.
There’s more power though, surely?
Its uprated 454bhp 3.0-litre turbo straight-six has 30bhp over a standard M3, though only 10bhp more than the M3 Competition Package, and it remains significantly down on the 503bhp produced by both the C63S and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (its other big rival). BMW claims the M3 CS is good for 0–100kph in 3.9secs and a 280kph top speed, mind.
How does it drive?
The chassis set-up, by BMW’s own admission, is very similar to the M3 Competition Package’s. Which, for this car’s additional £25,000, might seem a bit cheeky. But the overall impression, like last year’s M4 CS, is simply of razor sharpness. It’s much firmer and less yielding than the Alfa; while you can slacken off the CS’s suspension to help it breathe over bumpy B-roads, it feels at its most natural with all the Sport Plus modes selected and the stability control loosened a bit. It’s a wilder ride for it, but there’s something very addictive about just how aggressive you can make the M3 feel. It sounds mighty as you home in on the red line, too.
But it’s 86 grand...
It is, and for something that’s barely lighter or more powerful than the next M3 down.
Which remains the far more rational choice. But if history teaches us anything, limited editions like this are not to be sniffed at, and the price premium could repay itself in years to come.
And barring a surprise, M3 CRT-like special, this is likely to be the toughest current-gen M3 we’ll see.
2979cc, 6cyl twin-turbo, RWD, 454bhp, 600Nm8.5L/100km, 198g/km CO2 0–100kph in 3.9secs, 280kph 1585kgVERDICT: This is the current M3 at its very sharpest, but its aggression comes at a fair old price.