BY PETER BARNWELL
When a ‘regular’ BMW M3 simply doesn’t cut it, you can always rely on the CS for a bit more of everything.
Only available as a four-door sedan, the M3 CS makes other M3s appear tame because it’s designed as a Competition Sport (CS) model with a whopping 405kW of power and 650Nm of torque belting out of the turbo straight six.
The car will be available here in the second half of the year priced at $249,900 plus on roads.
It comprehensively outpoints other similar size performance Bimmers for price (and performance) with the two-door M4 Coupe from $158,500 up to $174,500 for the AWD X-Drive Competition model or the M4 Convertible in AWD X-Drive Competition spec’ at $185,500 (all before on-road costs and options).
Food for thought is the delightful M2 coupe at $119,900 or you could always take the family in the M3 Touring X-Drive wagon at $177,500 plus on roads.
But the M3 CS is a different animal that ratchets everything up quite a few notches with a particular emphasis on track performance thanks to race-derived DNA.
Australia’s allocation of the limited-edition CS is small as international demand is already red hot for the race-bred four-door. BMW Australia was able to source more than the usual share of the M3 CS since one in every five BMWs sold here wears an M badge.
BMW launched the car at the recent 24 Hours of Daytona with a flurry of credit cards waving in the room.
The CS joins a bunch of hi-po BMW M cars but trumps most with its combination of desirable goodies including lightweight construction featuring extensive use of carbon-fibre, uprated engine output, custom chassis setup and specific design features setting it apart.
Precision honed standard kit includes tech’ aimed at delivering an exhilarating drive feel on the road and at the racetrack.
The launch of the M3 CS follows the debut of other BMW M models including the XM which is a ground up model out of M division – the first since the M1 back in 1978.
Bavaria’s latest ’bahn blaster features increased power and reduced weight to deliver searing performance, capable of clocking a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.4 seconds and continuing to 200km/h in a scant 11.1 seconds, eventually reaching a governed V-max of 305km/h.
Plentiful power comes from an upgraded version of the high-revving six-cylinder in-line engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology developed for other M3 and M4 models.
But this engine has a better pedigree because it formed the basis for the power plant in the 2022 DTM (German) touring car title winning BMW M4 GT3 that took out the championship on its first attempt.
BMW boffins made it essentially a race car engine for the road as the hand-made unit boasts components and technology designed for high power and reliability – helping justify the quarter-million price tag.
Apart from generating a maximum 405kW between 6250rpm and 7200rpm, the 3.0-litre straight-six is also good for peak torque of 650Nm from a low 2750rpm through to 5950rpm.
Digging deeper into the donk we find the crankcase has a sleeve-free, closed-deck construction that is extremely rigid, making it suitable for high combustion (and boost) pressures.
Engine builders didn’t take any short cuts with the M3 CS engine boasting weight-saving cylinder bores with a wire-arc sprayed iron coating to reduce frictional losses.
They opted for a forged lightweight crankshaft to aid power build-up with its super high torsional resistance while sustaining high rev operation.
Unusually, the cylinder head has a 3D-printed core that allows coolant ducts to be positioned in an optimum arrangement for temperature management. BMW says this would be impossible to achieve using conventional metal casting methods.
The large capacity lubrication system is designed to handle the specific challenges of track use, as is the cooling system.
BMW says these modifications reflect a focus on achieving high revolutions and maximum power delivery with the considerably upgraded engine in CS. Its 405kW peak is an additional 30kW peak power compared with the BMW M3 Competition xDrive.
The extra power comes from targeted revisions to the engine’s M TwinPower Turbo technology and no compromises were made for stability or durability.
After reinforcing the engine’s internals, BMW technicians raised the boost pressure from the two mono-scroll turbochargers from 1.7 to 2.1 bar and then adjusted the engine management system to suit.
That wasn’t the end of it as the CS features specially designed engine mounts with increased spring rates to create a rigid connection between the power unit and the vehicle’s chassis.
BMW promises that the change can be felt through the accelerator with sharp engine response and a direct transmission of power to the drivetrain.
In characteristic race car fashion, power delivery is exponential starting low and building to a crescendo at redline, all accentuated by the snap, crackle and pop of the wailing six-pot courtesy of a specifically designed exhaust said to deliver a stirring sporty note in the CS.
The CS has multiple drive modes including the mandatory Sport or Sport+ for the engine in the M Setup menu.
All that ‘go’ needs some ‘whoa’ and in this area, the CS scores four-wheel drive (AWD) through an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic that provides a number of settings ranging from comfort through to track optimised.
The CS features M xDrive which uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case to ensure fully variable and smooth distribution of the engine’s power between the front and rear wheels. It works in concert with the car’s Active M Differential at the rear.
As well as an electronically limited top speed of 305km/h – suggesting 200mph potential if unrestrained – the CS comes with complimentary enrolment in the BMW M Advance 2 driving course at the hands of the nationwide BMW Driving Experience. Thank goodness for that.
The car’s chassis dynamics can accommodate the demands of high-speed circuit driving in terms of suspension, M compound brakes and tyres. M Carbon ceramic brakes are optional.
Underlining the lengths to which engineers went with the M3 CS are the individually tuned axle kinematics and bespoke wheel camber settings, dampers, auxiliary springs and anti-roll bars that serve to optimise steering precision, transmission of lateral control forces when cornering, spring and damping response and wheel location.
Standard kit includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear M light alloy forged wheels, extensive use of exposed carbon fibre body parts including the roof, interior parts such as the paddle shifters and a titanium exhaust that together shave some 20kg off the bulk of the CS.
Inside the leather upholstered luxury sports car cockpit features digital technology and exclusive design elements together with specifically designed bucket seats.
Cabin tech’ includes curved in dash screens and the latest-generation BMW iDrive system.
If all that doesn’t float your boat, there’s an options list available to customise your M3 CS more to your liking.