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BMW M3 CS
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  • Manufacturer BMW
  • ModelM3 CS
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By Line

BMW's M3 CS has a little more power and a lot more attitude. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

Building on a fine heritage of lightweight, high performance sports saloons, the BMW M3 CS is a tempting combination of high performance and everyday usability. Thanks to the generous use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic and a subsequent low kerb weight, plus a more sporting suspension set-up, increased power and torque and a unique interior style, the BMW CS is a car worthy of the 'CS' moniker.

Background

When it comes to performance car icons, the BMW M3 is firmly positioned at the top table. There aren't too many sports models that can boast a bloodline or a competition record to match the M3's, a history that goes right back to the 1986 E30 M3, the car that set the template. There has been some revisionist history surrounding the M3 though. Many remember that original car as being some sort of pure-bred racing machine, but most were very well equipped with sunroofs, stereos, air conditioning and such like. Yet the myth of the M3 being a stripped-out racer for the road endures and BMW has been beaten over the head with it upon every subsequent M3 launch. The latest model has proved to be an M3 through and through. It's fast, capable, hugely exciting, reasonably practical, wholly desirable and a model that reflects the politics of its times. And it's even better in this faster lightweight CS guise.

Driving Experience

This M3 CS uses the same six-cylinder in-line engine as an ordinary M3 Competition Package variant, but adds a further 10bhp to the total output, bringing that to 460bhp. The maximum torque figure of 600Nm is about 10% higher too (the M3 Competition Package makes 550Nm) and is available from 4,000rpm to 5,380rpm. That's enough to see the sprint from zero to 62mph take just 3.9 seconds. The maximum speed is limited to 174mph. This 3.0-litre unit uses M TwinPower Turbo technology, with two spontaneously responsive mono-scroll turbochargers. As with the normal M3, there's a launch control mode and even a 'Smoky Burnout' setting you can switch to if you really want to get breathalysed. There's also an Active M Differential to help improve traction and an M Dynamic Mode in the stability control software, which allows owners a degree of slip angle without turning the safety net off completely. The steering is an electromechanical set-up featuring three modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport+. And Adaptive M suspension is standard.

Design and Build

The BMW M3 CS has a kerb weight of just 1,585kg (without driver). The CFRP bonnet alone is about 25% lighter than that of the standard M3, while the CFRP roof is more than 6kg lighter than a steel one. Another advantage of the lightweight yet robust composite material is the lowering of the vehicle's centre of gravity, which gives the BMW M3 CS even more agile handling. On the tailgate, for example, a new carbon fibre lip spoiler not only saves weight, but also significantly reduces lift on the rear axle. The exterior styling benefits from double LED headlights and a flat double kidney grille. The three-part front splitter not only emphasises the dynamics of the M3 CS, but also fulfils technical tasks: the large air intakes serve to provide efficient cooling to the six-cylinder twin-turbo engine and also the braking system. Made of lightweight carbon fibre, the splitter effectively reduces the lift on the front axle. Further reducing the load on the front axle is the lightweight CFRP bonnet with a large air intake as featured on the M4 GTS and DTM Champion Edition. Whilst saving weight was the maxim, M3 CS buyers don't have to do without luxuries. The M-Sport seats are reduced in weight, but the CS still has amenities such as climate control and a Harman Kardon Surround Sound System.

Market and Model

You won't be expecting an M3 CS to be cheap - and it isn't. BMW asks just under £86,500 for it, around £25,000 more than you'll pay for an M3 Competition Package variant with only 10bhp less.... Still, that's the price of exclusivity - and you do get a lot more kit with the CS, including a Harman Kardon Surround Sound System and BMW Icon Adaptive LED headlights. The discreet yet sporty interior uses exclusive bi-colour Silverstone/Black leather and Alcantara. The lightweight M sports seats, which are sculpted to offer figure-hugging comfort are shared with the M3 with Competition Package. The seats guarantee perfect lateral support even when driving fast on the racetrack, but also offer very good long-distance comfort. BMW M stripes are incorporated in the front seat belts and seats. The rear seats also feature an exclusive, two-tone Merino leather in the same colour combination. The most desirable accessory for the driver of the new M3 CS is the optional M Performance Alcantara steering wheel. It is covered in exclusive, anthracite-coloured Alcantara and has a silver '12 o'clock' marking and offers maximum grip in all track driving situations. The handbrake lever gaiter is Alcantara with grey contrasting stitching, while an exclusive red start/stop button adds to the sense of occasion. The interior trim features Alcantara, with a unique CS model designation. There are also special door sills featuring the M3 CS logo.

Cost of Ownership

The M3 CS's engine not only delivers its power continuously over a very wide engine speed range, but also works economically, keeping fuel consumption low at 34mpg and thus exhaust emissions low at 194g/km. Insurance is as expensive as you'd expect from a car with this sort of potency under the bonnet. At least residual values should hold up well and used demand for this CS variant should prove very healthy indeed.

Summary

Could you really justify paying over £85,000 for a BMW M3? If you can, then this CS model will charm you. It's faster and more talented in corners too, thanks to its extra power. So yes, it certainly knows how to entertain. With the right buttons pressed and the right electronics de-selected, it's still a car you have to master, where yours are the risks but yours too the rewards. It can, in other words, still be slightly scary in a way a rival Mercedes or Audi could never be. And it's a potential collectors' item. Enough said.

Scoring: BMW M3 CS

Category: Performance Sporting Cars

Performance
90
Handling
80
Comfort
70
Space
80
Styling
80
Build
80
Value
40
Equipment
80
Economy
80
Depreciation
80
Insurance
70
Total
75