BMW M3 CS £86,425

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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.


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