Offering 557PS, all-wheel drive, and somehow even more aggressive styling, the BMW M3 CS is a demonstration of excess. But will it be any good?

At the moment, BMW M Sport is a bit… hit and miss. On one hand, cars like the M5 CS and M2 Competition remind us exactly why the M badge is so revered. However, BMW’s performance division has also been cranking out some slightly sub-par models lately too, such as the M4 CSL or anything with an ‘X’ attached to its title.

The general consensus amongst the motoring media is that while the current M3 and M4 siblings are undeniably impressive machines, they perhaps lack the poise and engagement of their elder namesakes. So, can the CS treatment elevate the G80-gen M3 to new levels? Here’s what it brings to the table.

A head-on shot of the new BMW M3 CS, highlighting its black bonnet gills.

The BMW M3 CS’s Powertrain

The first thing you should know about the new BMW M3 CS is that underneath its muscular hood, it’s packing the same special engine found in the M4 CSL. Still using the core 3.0-litre S58 straight-six architecture of regular M3s and M4s, this particular unit has been empowered with an additional 40PS. The gains come via a boost pressure increase, with the engines twin turbos now operating at 2.1bar rather than 1.7. Naturally, an ECU remap has been designed to suit. Torque sits at 479lb ft – the same as in regular M3 Comps – but that peak is available over a slightly wider rev range.

BMW claims that this uprated version of the S58 formed the basis of the engine found in its M4 GT3 racecar; a vehicle which powered Sheldon van der Linde to the prestigious DTM championship title last year. So, it’s fair to say it’s got pedigree.

To go along with the extra grunt, effort has been made to ensure the drivetrain can cope too. Sturdier engine mountings, for example, mean that BMW M3 CS can make use of the harsher gearbox mapping that’s found in the M4 CSL. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system also comes as standard, including the ability to electronically revert to a rear-wheel bias, should the circumstances be right.

The end result is a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds – 0.3 seconds quicker than the M4 CSL, while the top speed is pegged at 188mph.

A side profile of the BMW M3 CS.

Chassis & Suspension

Of course, ‘CS’-badged M cars can’t just be about sheer grunt. There’s also gotta be an element of weight saving involved.

All in all, it’s claimed that the BMW M3 CS has shed 20kg of kerb weight compared to the common or garden M3 Comp xDrive. Carbon-fibre construction techniques have been key to this process, with CFRP being used both inside and out. Everything from its diffusers to its mirror caps, its centre console to its shift paddles. It all adds up, and further kilograms are shaved thanks to the presence of carbon bucket seats.

The quest for lightness continues even with the exhaust system. Like the M4 CSL, the BMW M3 CS makes use of a titanium silencer, which alone is responsible for 4kg of weight loss. For further gains – or, I guess, losses in this case – you can even spec the car with lighter, higher performance strut braces. As an added bonus, those will make the body that bit more rigid through bends too.

As far as suspension goes, the BMW M3 CS comes with bespoke camber and anti-roll bar settings, designed to target track performance and steering precision. On top of that, the G80 platform’s core electronically adaptive dampers and assisted steering have also been mapped with a specific set-up for the M3 CS.

A rear three-quarter shot of the car.

Cosmetics & Cost

As we’ve come to expect from modern-day fast BMWs, this car has a certain brutish quality to its styling. The BMW M3 CS boasts similar aggressive aero flourishes to the M4 CSL, and its hard to miss the big black gills carved into its hood.

You get a choice of four exterior colours – dreary grey, white, and black are three less inspiring options. However, Signal Green certainly leaves a lasting impression.

Other aesthetic touches include a frameless kidney grille and, rather controversially, yellow headlight beams rather than white ones.

The price for all of this? Well, I’ll warn you now – it’s eye-watering. Admittedly, not quite as bad as the $155,348 (£125,900) demanded for the M4 CSL, $143,009 (£115,900) is still a pretty lofty price tag for an M3.