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First drive: BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.

First drive: BMW M3 CS Saloon
Itís expensive, but thereís no denying what an exceptional creation the new BMW M3 CS is.


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BMW M3 CS Saloon

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Some will wince at the price of the new BMW M3 CS, but it's all but irrelevant when the European allocation of the 1,200 or so to be made is nearly gone. And, having experienced what the CS tweaks have done to the M3, we really hope that its buyers use it as intended instead of wrapping it up in cotton wool in a collection. This is the ultimate evolution of the F80 M3 and undoubtedly the most beguiling yet.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW M3 CS Saloon
Pricing: £86,425 on-the-road
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed M DCT dual-clutch automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 198g/km (VED £1,240 first 12 months, then £440 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 33.2mpg
Top speed: 173mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 460hp at 6,250rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 4,000-5,380rpm
Unladen weight: 1,585kg

What's this?

Probably the last iteration of the 'F80'-generation BMW M3 Saloon before an all-new 3 Series arrives in 2019, which is expected to sire a new M3 sooner rather than later. The new M3 CS follows the same recipe as the BMW M4 CS, so there's a little less weight and a little more performance, paired up with chassis tweaks and a generous standard specification.

Reducing the weight and enhancing the appearance is a new carbon fibre reinforced plastic bonnet, which complements the new front splitter. At the back, there's a shapely new carbon boot spoiler. Gorgeous 'Orbit Grey' alloy wheels of mixed sizes (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) are standard, wearing Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, though these can be swapped for less track-focused Super Sport rubber. M Carbon ceramic brakes are also optional, sadly.

Inside, though a simplified centre console is said to save 2kg, and its Alcantara finish is echoed on the dashboard (and on the optional BMW M Performance steering wheel...), the M3 CS has all the equipment you might want, including automatic air conditioning, BMW Professional Multimedia, a Harman Kardon speaker system and heating for the figure-hugging Lightweight M sport seats up front.

Mechanically, the M3 CS is based on the M3 with Competition Package, an already brilliant upgrade to the original. Tweaks to the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six have released an extra 10hp and 50Nm of torque, bringing the maximums to 460hp and 600Nm respectively. Use the built-in launch control function (the M3 CS comes with the M DCT dual-clutch transmission as standard) and this car will do 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds on its way to a limited 173mph. Adaptive M suspension is standard and as before there's the Active M differential for the rear axle. Detail changes to the suspension make it more track-ready.

In the UK, the BMW M3 CS costs from £86,425 on-the-road and about 1,200 examples are being produced for global sale.

How does it drive?

There isn't a vast gulf between the abilities of the new BMW M3 CS and the M3 with Competition Package, as the latter is already a particularly well-sorted and engaging car. The extra engine performance is accessible at high revs, by which stage any iteration of this generation M3 feels incredibly fast, so without doing a direct back-to-back comparison, it'd be fake news to say the CS feels appreciably quicker, even if it is a little lighter. In Sport+ mode, though, it is louder, thanks to a new sports exhaust, and it's audible inside as much as it is outside the car, adding to the experience.

The drive systems settings are customisable by the driver as ever, and they make a bigger difference to the car's character than the upgrades, but there's no doubt that this M3 has a wide breadth of capability and it feels like a highly polished chassis, whether you've turned everything down to Comfort and you're cruising at speed on a rough motorway or you're on a track with all settings at Sport+. The latter environment reveals just how good this car is, with astounding front-end grip and unshakeable stability under heavy braking or during quick direct changes. Even if you're a little ham-fisted with your inputs, the car reacts in a friendly manner, meaning you'll soon feel confident enough to turn off the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system on a dry circuit. Do that and the M3 doesn't turn into a tyre-shredding mess, either (though it will drift its tyres to vapour in short time if you feel the need), instead allowing its driver revel in the balance and responsiveness of the chassis as a whole.

In short, if you don't get out of the M3 CS after a quick drive, on road or track, with a smile on your face, then you need to check your pulse.


Being rational, we'd like to see the ceramic brakes included for the elevated price of the BMW M3 CS, but then again, there are probably plenty of prospective buyers that don't need or want such stopping power. And anyway, when the car is already selling quickly, debates about its value-for-money quotient seem pointless, don't they? One thing that won't cause argument is the M3 CS's driving dynamics. A few tweaks here and there have resulted in a taut, exciting sports saloon that's at home on a track yet not overly compromised for road use. This M3 certainly deserves its M stripes.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Shane O' Donoghue - 28 May 2018    - BMW road tests
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2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.

2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.2018 BMW M3 CS Saloon. Image by Uwe Fischer.


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