2018 BMW M3 CS: No coupe for you
Carmakers are fond of presenting new vehicles as the “first ever,” seeking to lend a little rocket assist to their launch, and BMW is the latest with this limited edition M3 CS. While the CS series has been around for a long time in BMW’s product hierarchy—since 1961—it’s also fair to say that there’s some justification for that first ever label in connection with the M3. It has four doors. Every previous CS has been a coupe, and a high performance coupe at that.
In recent years the industry, particularly its major German players, has created semantic dissonance around the word coupe, applying it to cars with four doors, as well as two. But that’s not the case here. BMW doesn’t portray the CS as a four-door coupe, but rather chooses to emphasize the CS high performance tradition, as well as CS exclusivity. BMW plans to hold production to “about 1200” units for its worldwide market. That makes the M3 CS a collectible, as well as the hottest of the current M3s.
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Performance specs: the CS employs the same smooth 3.0-liter twin turbo inline six employed in the standard M3, tweaked to huff up 453 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, gains of 28 and 37, respectively.
Though modest, the power increase is amplified by reduced curb weight. Extensive use of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic—roof, front and rear splitters, rear spoiler Gurney lip—trim 110 pounds, according to BMW.
Unlike the standard M3, there’s no manual transmission option. The CS twin-turbo six sends its increased thrust to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch automated manual and limited slip differential. BMW forecasts a slightly quicker 0-to-60 mph run—3.7 seconds—and a higher top speed: 174 mph. There’s also the promise of an exhaust note worthy of CS badging. What that means remains to be heard.
As you’d expect, BMW engineers have devoted equal attention to the chassis, specifying modifications similar to the optional Competition Package available with the standard M3. Adaptive dampers complement retuned spring rates, and the driver has a choice of three operating modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. There are also three driver-select settings for the electric power steering, and the stability control system has been modified to allow the driver a little more latitude in terms of allowing the car to drift when desired.
As you’d also expect, the M3 CS rolls on forged alloy wheels wearing serious performance tires—Michelin Super Sports, 265/35-19 front, 285/30-20 rear. The standard CS brakes are BMW’s lightweight M Compound, with 4-piston calipers front, 2-piston rears. Few if any have ever complained about the power of M3 brakes, but for really serious track day players the CS offers the option of carbon ceramic rotors gripped by 6-piston calipers front, 4-piston calipers rear.
Distinctions of the black and gray interior include BMW’s raceworthy sport seats, lots of merino leather, standard navigation, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and several CS badges, lest the owner forget.
BMW apologizes for the absence of a roll cage option, citing practicality considerations, but it’s clear that the M3 CS is at its core a formidable track toy. And it’s also clear that the limited availability—the U.S. share of production is expected to be something like 550 cars—gives it a high collectability quotient. What’s not clear at this point is pricing. You can be sure it will be substantial. Current M3 pricing opens at $64,495, soaring near $90,000 with the Competition Package. U.S. BMW dealers can officially begin accepting M3 CS orders next May.
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