BMW’s M3 has sort of been the benchmark performance sedan since its inception. And BMW continues to bang that drum, even though their 3 Series has grown over the years, and their original hot rod, something that’s light and tossable and small and agile, has grown sizably over the years. And I mean that literally. In comparison to where it started, the current BMW 3 Series is about where the 5 Series was decades ago. Ever thus is that trend for auto manufacturers; slightly bigger, an inch here, ten pounds there, year over year.
And what was once small and logical is now bigger and fatter.
To make this even weirder, here we have the new BMW M3 CS, a special edition model that delivers a “fine blend of high performance and complete everyday practicality.” Wait, I thought that’s what the M3 already was? What gives?
What gives is, essentially, marketing speak. Oh sure, the M3 CS has more. More power, more torque, more gee-gaws and such, but essentially it’s “just” this year’s M3, only more so. Why the Bavarians didn’t take all the CS stuff and simply call it the “2018 M3” is beyond me, but BMW gets funny sometimes. So that weirdness aside, the BMW M3 CS is everything we’ve come to expect from an M3. It’s quick, it’s fast, it’s powerful (and I mean really powerful), it has tons of tech, but not so much tech that it gets in the way of the overall driving experience (hopefully).
And it is screwed together by members of a society that have a real fetish designing and screwing things together “right.”
The CS has lots of carbon fiber, even more than you’d normally find on an M3. The widespread use of carbon fiber, carbon fiber-reinforced plastic to be accurate about it, keeps this first-ever BMW M3 CS much lighter than the “normal” M3. Around 110 lbs. less than a normal M3, so that’s worth paying attention to. Large portions of the body are also made from carbon fiber, like the hood, which drops 25 percent of its weight in comparison to the regular M3. The roof panel is made of carbon fiber and that alone is more than 13 lbs. lighter than a conventional steel version.
Plus, that weight savings comes from way up high on the body, so the center of gravity will drop, handling will improve and such. The front splitter? Carbon fiber. Even the “Gurney Flap” hanging out back is done up in exposed carbon fiber.
And all this lightness is a good thing. Regular readers know I’ve got a fixation for lightweight cars, but what the M3 CS is really about is power. Lots of it. Bags of it. For BMWs, it all seems to come down to what that “M” stands for, which is motor. And boy does the 2018 M3 CS pack a whopper of a mill. To wit, it’s an M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder that cranks out 453 horsepower at 6,250 rpm (28 more than the “normal” M3), with 443 lb-ft. of peak torque, available from 4,000 to 5,380 rpm (37 lb-ft. more). Great googly-moogly, that’s a lot of power!
Some would say that’s too much power and, let’s be frank here, those people are morons. 453 + 443 sounds like f-u-n fun to me. And I mean mathematically verifiable fun. 60 mph comes up in a scant 3.7 seconds and the top speed has increased to 174 mph. See? F-u-n fun. All of that power and torque is put to the bahn through the 7-speed M Double-Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic.
Naturally, the suspension is tweaked to deal with the higher engine output. The M3 CS comes standard with BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension that offers a choice of three modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ with different damper settings in each of the three modes. Three different settings for the precisely tuned M Servotronic electromechanical steering can also be selected at the touch of a button.
Also adding to the fun is a nice, throaty sounding M sport exhaust system. It’s specially tuned for the CS with a quartet of stainless steel tailpipes blending perfectly into the carbon fiber diffuser. Point of parliamentary procedure: BMW uses the term “rear diffuser.” Most car companies do. Rear diffuser? That’s idiotic and redundant. Of course it’s a rear diffuser. Have you ever seen a diffuser at the front end of something? No. No you have not.
That’s like saying, “the new rear feathers of this arrow . . . ” Duh! You don’t put feathers on the front of an arrow no more than you’d put a diffuser anywhere but on the rear of a car. So knock it off, it’s starting to bother me.
The inside is drenched in Alcantara and two-tone full Merino leather in Silverstone/Black. There’s a new red start/stop button and the passenger compartment is pared down to the essentials for significant weight savings, but still graced by the presence of lightweight M sport seats.
There is, however, such niceties as automatic climate control and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.
You like? Of course you do. And if you really like, you better get to your local BMW dealer. Production of the M3 CS is limited to approximately 1,200 units worldwide, with only 550 of them coming to the United States. Pricing has not been announced but BMW will start taking orders in May.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.