BMW M3 CS: The Ultimate Track-Ready Sedan
It’s hard to fathom how BMW could improve on the already excellent M3 Competition, yet two letters make all the difference. The CS badge has graced the backsides of BMW performance cars since the late 1960s, and more than half a century later, they’re still winning enthusiasts over with their track prowess.
Let’s start with the engine. The 3.0-liter inline-six’s two turbochargers get a boost from 24.7 to 30.5 psi, and some extra tuning results in 40 more horsepower than the M3 Comp and 70 more than the standard M3. The final output is an impressive 543 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. While these numbers may not sound groundbreaking in this day and age, the M3 CS feels like a beast on the road.
The performance figures are equally impressive. The M3 CS can reach 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, two-tenths of a second quicker than the M3 Comp. And if you find a long enough road, it’ll race to a limited top speed of 188 mph.
One downside of the M3 CS is the lack of a manual gearbox option. If you want the manual, you’ll have to settle for the standard M3. However, the eight-speed automatic in the CS uses the same mapping as the more hardcore M4 CSL, ensuring lightning-fast shifts.
The M3 CS comes standard with all-wheel drive, but it still maintains excellent rear-drive bias. Thanks to BMW’s Active M differential and the 4WD Sport mode with Dynamic Stability Control disengaged, you can shift most of the power to the rear wheels for a more thrilling driving experience.
When it comes to handling, the M3 CS is a true delight. The electronic power steering, with subtle retuning for better responsiveness, provides precise feedback to the driver. Combined with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, the M3 CS effortlessly tracks through corners with minimal steering input. It’s as if the car knows exactly where it needs to go.
Even in the tightest turns, the M3 CS remains remarkably flat, thanks to its stiff suspension. Despite weighing 3,915 pounds, the M3 CS feels lighter, thanks to the generous use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic on the hood and roof.
Braking performance is equally exceptional. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes bring the M3 CS to a halt as quickly as it accelerates. However, it’s worth noting that offering these brakes as an $8,500 option on a track-focused car like the CS seems odd – they should come standard. If you opt against the carbon ceramics, you’ll still get traditional steel brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.
On the road, the M3 CS does have some drawbacks compared to the standard M3. The additional suspension tuning for track use results in a backbreaking ride. The M Performance seats, with their built-in crotch bumper, offer little in terms of comfort, although they do come with power adjustability and heating. Additionally, the steering, which feels spot-on on the track, can be twitchy during everyday city driving.
With a starting price of $119,695 (including destination), the M3 CS is certainly not cheap. It costs $34,400 more than the M3 Competition. However, if you’re a regular weekend racer or an avid autocross enthusiast, the subtle performance upgrades of the M3 CS make it the ultimate choice for shaving precious seconds off your lap times. But if all you’re looking for is a fun daily driver, the standard M3 will certainly suffice and save you $35,000.
In conclusion, the BMW M3 CS is an extreme performance sedan that pushes the boundaries of what a sports car can achieve. With its beefed-up engine, lightning-fast acceleration, exceptional handling, and track-focused features, it’s a true enthusiast’s dream. Just be prepared for the back-breaking ride and the hefty price tag.