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BMW M range grows with $250K M3 CS hot rod

Race-bred tech abundant in hardcore 405kW/650Nm BMW M3 CS at a cool quarter-million

25 Jan 2023

FOR those who like their hot BMW in four-door sedan configuration but the regular M3 feels a little tame, help is at hand in the shape of the M3 CS (Competition Sport) that arrives Down Under in the second half of the year priced from $249,900 plus on road costs.


Current choices in this size of performance Bimmer are the two-door M4 Coupe priced from $158,500 up to $174,500 for the AWD X-Drive Competition model or the M4 Convertible in AWD X-Drive Competition spec at $185,500 (all before on-road costs and options).


It is also possible to downsize slightly to the delightful M2 coupe at $119,900 or take the family in the M3 Touring X-Drive wagon at $177,500 (both before on-roads).


However, the M3 CS is a different animal, ratcheting everything up a few notches with a particular emphasis on track performance courtesy of its race-derived DNA.


Only limited numbers of the 405kW/650Nm M3 CS will make it here as international demand is already strong for the race-bred four-door, but Australia’s allocation of the M3 CS is enhanced due to the fact that one in every five BMWs sold here wears an M badge.


As befits a car of this ilk, the CS was launched at the recent 24 Hours of Daytona race amid a flurry of waving credit cards.


It joins a bevy of high-performance BMW M cars but trumps most with its combination of desirable goodies including lightweight construction featuring plenty of carbon-fibre, uprated engine output, custom chassis setup and specific design features to set it apart.


Checking the features list reveals a precision-honed specification aimed at delivering an exhilarating drive feel on the road and at the race track.


The launch of the BMW M3 CS follows the debut of other BMW M models including the XM which is a ground up model out of M division – the first since the M1 back in 1978.


Bavaria’s latest ’bahn blaster features increased power and reduced weight to deliver searing performance, capable of clocking a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.4 seconds and continuing to 200km/h in a scant 11.1 seconds, eventually reaching a governed V-max of 305km/h.


Motive power comes from an upgraded version of the high-revving six-cylinder in-line engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology developed for other M3 and M4 models.


In this case, the engine is more than that as it formed the basis for the power plant under the bonnet of 2022 DTM touring car title winning BMW M4 GT3 that took out the championship on its first attempt.


Essentially a race car engine for the road, the unit boasts components and technology designed for high power and reliability – helping justify the quarter-million price tag.


Apart from generating a maximum 405kW between 6250rpm and 7200rpm, the 3.0-litre straight-six is also good for peak torque of 650Nm from a low 2750rpm through to 5950rpm.  


Digging deeper into the donk we find the crankcase has a sleeve-free, closed-deck construction that is extremely rigid, making it suitable for high combustion (and boost) pressures.


Engine technicians chose weight-saving cylinder bores with a wire-arc sprayed iron coating to reduce frictional losses.


As expected, a forged lightweight crankshaft is utilised to aid power build-up with its super high torsional resistance while sustaining high rev operation.


Unusually, the cylinder head has a 3D-printed core that allows coolant ducts to be positioned in an optimum arrangement for temperature management. BMW says this would be impossible to achieve using conventional metal casting methods.


The lubrication system is designed to handle the specific challenges of track use, as is the cooling system. In other words, both are large in capacity.


BMW says these mods reflect a focus on achieving high revolutions and maximum power delivery with the considerably upgraded engine in CS. Its 405kW peak is an additional 30kW peak power compared with the BMW M3 Competition xDrive.


The extra power comes from targeted revisions to the engine’s M TwinPower Turbo technology and no compromises were made for stability or durability. 


After reinforcing the engine’s internals, BMW technicians raised the boost pressure of the engine’s two mono-scroll turbochargers from 1.7 to 2.1 bar and then adjusted the engine management system to suit.


That was not the end of it as the CS features specially designed engine mounts with increased spring rates to create a rigid connection between the power unit and the vehicle’s chassis.


BMW promises that the change can be felt through the accelerator with sharp engine response and a direct transmission of power to the drivetrain.


In characteristic race car fashion,  power delivery is exponential starting low and building to a crescendo at redline, all accentuated by the snap, crackle and pop of the wailing six-pot courtesy of a specifically designed exhaust said to deliver a stirring sporty note in the CS.


Naturally the CS has multiple drive modes including the mandatory Sport or Sport+ for the engine in the M Setup menu.


All that ‘go’ needs some ‘whoa’ and in this area, the CS is well endowed with power transmitted to all four wheels through an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic that provides a number of settings ranging from comfort through to track optimised.


The CS features M xDrive  which uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case to ensure fully variable and smooth distribution of the engine’s power between the front and rear wheels. It works in concert with the car’s Active M Differential at the rear.


As well as an electronically limited top speed of 305km/h – suggesting 200mph potential if unrestrained – the CS comes with complimentary enrolment in the BMW M Advance 2 driving course at the hands of the nationwide BMW Driving Experience.


The car’s chassis dynamics are capable of accommodating the demands of high-speed circuit driving in terms of suspension, M compound brakes and tyres. M Carbon ceramic brakes are optional.


Underlining the lengths to which engineers went with the M3 CS are the individually tuned axle kinematics and bespoke wheel camber settings, dampers, auxiliary springs and anti-roll bars that serve to optimise steering precision, transmission of lateral control forces when cornering, spring and damping response and wheel location.


Standard kit includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear M light alloy forged wheels, extensive use of exposed carbon fibre body parts including the roof, interior parts such as the paddle shifters and a titanium exhaust that together shave some 20kg off the bulk of the CS.


Inside the leather upholstered luxury sports car cockpit features digital technology and exclusive design elements together with specifically designed bucket seats.


Cabin tech’ includes curved in dash screens and the latest-generation BMW iDrive system. 


A range of options is available to customise the M3 CS. 

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