BMW M takes a standard BMW, with its
"driver's car" blend of sportiness and luxury, to another level
of power and handling. But sometimes the M people take that even
further with "special edition" models like the M4 CS and its new sibling, the M3 CS, into
which a comprehensive list of race-bred technology has been
integrated. The order book for this latest offering will open in
January and there will be only around 1,200 built.
From the outside, the M3 CS instantly makes its intentions clear. While, of course, BMW's up-market style language sets the tone, the accent is unmistakably M Series and clearly states that this is a high-performance sports saloon. What is not so obvious at first glance, however, is that underneath that purposeful stance is a lightweight aluminum body structure and the extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body panels, keeping the car's kerb weight down to only 1,585 kg (3,494 lb). As an added bonus, the CFRP panels lower the car's center of gravity, endowing it with handling agility that its creators say surpasses the standard M3.
As expected, the interior continues the well-balanced blend of luxury and sportiness with extensive use of leather and Alcantara in two-tone silverstone and black, with front seats from the M3 Competition Package and an M sports steering wheel in anthracite Alcantara complete with a silver 12 o'clock marker to let you know where steering center is if you lose it while enjoying a bit of sideways action. The top-shelf ambience is complemented with high-quality ancillaries: the climate control is automatic, the sound system is by Harman Kardon and the navigation system is BMW Navigation Professional.
Which brings us to the red start/stop button and the in-line six-cylinder engine – a configuration that BMW has long endowed with turbine-like smoothness – it switches into life. In this case, it is a 3.0-liter unit with peak output of 460 hp (338 kW) at 6,250 rpm and maximum torque of 442 lb.ft (600 Nm) from 4,000 rpm through to 5,380 rpm. Read "very drivable" for an engine that puts out 10 more horsepower and 10 percent more torque than the M3 with Competition Package.
Expect zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.9 seconds and a top speed that is electronically limited at 174 mph (280 km/h). Apparently the BMW M3 CSM has already posted an impressive 7 minutes, 38 seconds lap time on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring.
All those power figures are achieved thanks to BMW's well-proven high-precision fuel injection, Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing combined with twin turbocharging – all built on a rigid but light cylinder block. The crankshaft is a lightweight forged unit for free-revving power delivery and the lightweight magnesium oil sump is baffled to maintain oil supply during cornering or braking forces of up to 1.4 g.
Getting all that power to the rear wheels is achieved via a seven-speed double-clutch transmission (DCT) with Drivelogic managing the electronic control that includes the M Launch Control function to help with that eye-popping zero to 62 mph rush. For "driver's car" pleasure, the DCT can be manually controlled via paddles on the steering wheel, while for congested traffic or "I've had enough smiles for one day" mode it can be set to fully automatic.
Further down the drivetrain is the Active M Differential with electronically-controlled limited-slip function integrated with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. Accelerator position, wheel rotational speed and body yaw rate data are all fed into the DSC to ensure optimal traction and stability via the engine management and brake control systems. However, the driver still has some choices in all this. M Dynamic Mode can be selected that allows more wheel slip and even moderate drifts, letting the driver have more responsibility for stability management.
Optimizing the effects of the dynamically-controlled torque distribution to the rear wheels and the precision of the M Servotronic electromechanical steering, all the tires are kept in constant contact with the road by Adaptive M suspension that features lightweight aluminum components and for which there are three settings: Comfort, Sport and Sport +, each with its own damper settings. Keeping the rest of the un-sprung weight low are the 10-spoke forged light alloy wheels carrying semi-slick but road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires: 265/35 R 19 at the front and 285/30 R 20 at the rear. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires designed to provide better grip in the wet are available as an option.
With all that speed and corner exit capability, the need for powerful brakes is obvious. While the M3 CS come standard with the M3's lightweight M compound brakes with four-pot front calipers and two-pot rears, those wanting even less weight and extended durability can opt for M carbon ceramic units with six- and four-pot calipers, respectively.
The sophistication and capability of this limited-run, special-edition offering seems guaranteed to make it very desirable. Perhaps even collectible. The lucky owners will have a completely practical, four-door saloon available for everyday use that, without any modification, will undoubtedly prove itself to be a fearsome track day toy.
The BMW M3 CS will be produced in a limited run of 1,200. No official pricing has been announced at this point, but as "the most powerful standard production vehicle of all time in the M3 model series," we'd expect there to be a premium attached.
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