New BMW M3 CS gets 550hp and standard AWD

Flagship M3 matches CSL power with xDrive usability for another eye-watering premium

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 24 January 2023 / Loading comments

Once upon a time, there was a BMW M3 CS. It took some of the best bits from the flagship CSL of the time, for less money than the lightweight track star, and created a much-loved M3 in the process. Even with the return of the badge in the previous F8x generation, it’s that original E46 that remains the CS pin-up.

The formula for that car has been resurrected for a new M3 CS. But where that mid-2000s car made do with standard power, this one gets the engine upgrade of the crazy expensive – some things never change – CSL. More than just a remap, the CS gets additional boost compared to a Comp from its two turbos (2.1 bar against 1.7), which experience from the CSL has shown makes for an even more exciting M division straight six. 550hp and 479lb ft, along with standard M xDrive (a departure from the CSL) and the eight-speed auto, mean a 0-62mph sprint of 3.4 seconds and a newly raised top speed of 188mph. BMW also promises an ‘even sharper engine response and direct transmission of its power to the drivetrain’ thanks to a new, stiffer engine mount, plus improved rigidity from bracing under the bonnet. Note as well the titanium rear silencer, again like a CSL.

As is CS tradition, there’s much more to this new car than mere power. As well as dampers, auxiliary springs, anti-roll bars and camber unique to this model, the CS gets its own tune of the M Servotronic steering, DSC and the M Dynamic Mode. Given how well-calibrated the assists already seem on an M3 Competition – and with the promise of a focus on ‘the specific demands of high-speed circuit driving’ – those changes ought to make for something special.

The CS is 20kg lighter than a regular, all-wheel drive M3, thanks to the aforementioned exhaust, standard bucket seats and some additional carbon fibre bits. Those wishing to shed further kilos from what is a very heavy car can opt for ceramic brakes in place of the standard M compound rotors. The wheels are CS-specific and forged, 19-inch diameter at the front and 20-inch at the back, offered in gold bronze or black. BMW says this M3 comes on ‘track tyres’, which we’ll assume for now is a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. Or it could be the even more extreme Cup 2R, like the CSL…

Identifying an M3 CS will be easy, even in the available colours – frozen Solid White, Brooklyn Grey and Sapphire Black – that aren’t Signal Green. Every colour gets black and red upholstery inside, too. There are bonnet indents in carbon, plus mirrors caps, rear spoiler, rear apron and a lot of the front end in the black stuff, plus the side skirts and gills painted black for further contrast. There’s a lot of CSL in the CS, basically, including the yellow Laserlights – hurrah – and the frameless grille, which might not be so popular. However ‘reminiscent of a racing car’ it may be.

BMW suggests that the UK is one of the key markets for the new CS, along with the US, Germany and Japan. It will be launched in March and, as befits any modern BMW CS, the M3 is going to cost a heck of a lot – if a little less than a CSL. The RRP is £115,900, or £33,235 more than a standard xDrive saloon. Nothing if not keeping with tradition, as the old M4 CS was £27k more than a regular car, and that only had 10hp extra. Expect deliveries later in 2023.

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