Official: this is the new, limited-edition 188mph BMW M3 CS | Top Gear
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Official: this is the new, limited-edition 188mph BMW M3 CS

‘Formidable’ four-door performance saloon swings in with CSL power and carbon fibre

Published: 24 Jan 2023

BMW has revived an old badge for a new car. Following the 3er Competition and 4er CSL variants comes this, the brand new BMW M3 CS; once a Goldilocks version of one of the best compact performance cars ever built, now a four-wheel-drive monster capable of embarrassing its ‘lightweight’ sibling.

Indeed it's described as 'formidable'. Just how formidable means we must indulge in the internet’s favourite pastime: numbers chat. This limited-edition four-door boasts an uprated version of the M3’s 3.0-litre turbo straight six, producing an extremely healthy 542bhp. That’s 39 horsepowers more than a ‘standard’ M3 Competition, and exactly the same output as the BMW M4 CSL’s sixer.

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However, because this M3 CS boasts BMW’s all-wheel-drive setup (albeit with a 2WD mode, which we’ll come to), it actually dusts the M4 CSL in the benchmark 0-62mph sprint, the new kid taking just 3.4s versus the RWD CSL’s 3.7s. The CSL claws it back to 124mph, taking just 10.7s, whereas the CS takes 11.1s.

Wait, come back! The new M3 CS maxes out at 188mph because it comes with the M Driver’s Pack as standard, while the M4 CSL will happily hit 193mph. Is that a conclusive win for the so-called ‘lightweight’? Your call.

In any case, this CS appears to be a seriously capable motor. The additional power stems from a tweak to the turbo boost pressure – up from 1.7 bar to 2.1 bar – and ECU. There’s a new specially designed engine mount too with better spring rates for a stronger connection betwixt engine and body for better engine response. Torque is plentiful at 479lb ft.

The six-pot’s matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, an active diff and M’s ‘xDrive’ 4WD setup. It’s been given a rear-bias of course, which can be intensified by switching into 4WD Sport mode – directing more of those horsies to the back – or indeed disengaging the front axle entirely by switching off DSC and making it fully RWD. Prepare to get friendly with your local tyre supplier.

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Special CS suspension tuning comes in the form of bespoke camber, damper, auxiliary spring and anti-roll bar settings, along with a special steering tune. Big M brakes are standard, but bigger M carbon ceramic brakes are of course an option, hiding behind staggered lightweight alloys – 19in at the front, 20in at the back.

Speaking of lightweight, another number for you to chew through. This M3 CS is some 20kg lighter than the regular M3 Competition, courtesy of a standard-fit carbon fibre roof, and lightweight aero parts including the bonnet, front splitter, front air intakes, rear diffuser and rear spoiler. There’s CFRP mirror caps and shift-paddles too, along with M Carbon bucket seats and a titanium rear exhaust backbox. Stiffer too, as well as lighter.

You can spec it in white, green, grey or black, and there are standard fit ‘Laserlight’ headlights, BMW’s ‘Curved Display’ and all the toys you’d expect from an exclusive performance saloon. Oh, and in case you were trying hard to ignore it, we’ll briefly draw your attention to the red colouring that lines the now-frameless kidney grilles. Moving on.

As mentioned, it’s limited in production though BMW won’t say how many it’ll build. Suffice to say, the key markets for the new M3 CS are the UK, the USA, Germany and Japan. In the UK, this new car with an old badge is available from March, and will set you back £115,900.

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