Fancied the new M4 CSL but need four doors? Fear not. BMW has sprinkled some of that ‘Competition Schport’ magic on the M3 xDrive, to create the new M3 CS. Don’t worry, there are colours available other than Signal Green.
Though whatever happens, there will be no mistaking the CS for any ‘cooking’ M3, which is probably just as well given the £115,900 price – a £33,235 premium over the standard M3 xDrive. The indented carbon-clad bonnet, frameless grille, red highlights and yellow lazer DRLs all come over as standard, along with swathes of extra carbon fibre aero. Special 19- and 20-inch V-spoke wheels can come in a gold-bronze finish, if you so desire.
On the inside it’s been updated too, with the new BMW Curved Display coming over from the CSL and indeed, the new M3 Touring, which houses the 12.3-inch driver’s and 14.9-inch infotainment displays. Though these are coming to all M3s and M4s soon, the M Carbon buckets, carbon trimmings, CS badging and red highlights mark the CS out as special.
Okay, you’re done looking around it and in it. Time to fire it up. What will actually make the CS special, in the ways drivers care about? The M3 CS borrows its engine straight from the M3 CSL. That’s to say power is up to 550PS (405kW) while torque is up to a maximum of 650Nm (679lb ft), thanks to the turbos getting a higher-pressure tune. As a result, this will be the fastest M3 you can get, with the most power in combination with xDrive yielding a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds.
Even minus the ‘Licht’ in its name, the CS does shed a few kilograms, with measures among the carbon bonnet and titanium silencer adding up to a 20kg saving. Nothing spectacular when the standard car tips the scales at a hefty 1,780kg but noteworthy enough.
Happily, the CS boasts some chassis enhancements too and to the delight of some disappointed journalists, these won’t be a direct carryover from the M4 CSL. The M3 CS gets its own tuned suspension settings with bespoke camber as well as its own adaptive M suspension setup, spring and damper response. The steering also gets its own calibration.
The M3 CS has quite the legacy to live up to. The last CS, the M5 CS, was beloved by all as one of the best M cars just of recent memory, but ever. The legacy of that car is what made the rather uncompromising M4 CSL a little disappointing to some as a driving experience on UK roads, so the M3 CS represents an opportunity to offer a slice of the M5 CS’s x-factor.
This is also the first CS since the original E46 M3 CS, to follow in the footsteps of an actual CSL, given today’s CSL is the first since 2003’s E46 M3 CSL. In short? This will either be the M3/4 to have, or it won’t… For £115,900, we surely hope the former is the case.