BMW’s M3 has been a performance standout since it was introduced in 1986 as part of the E30 generation of the brand’s compact 3 Series lineage, and the brand is reaching back to revive a popular favorite again: the M3 CS.
The M3 — the M is for Motorsport — was originally envisioned as a high performance homologation model to qualify the 3 Series into the German Touring Car (DTM) championship and the broader FIA Group A competition.
However, customer enthusiasm for the M3 was intense, and BMW has continued the model for most of the last 37 years. During that time, many special edition M3 models have been produced. Most M3 special editions have been single-year options, but the Competition Package (CS) has enjoyed strong staying power since its first introduction in 2005 as part of the E46 generation.
The original 2005 M3 CS included upgraded suspension, steering, and brakes, with the same driveline as the standard M3, but the 2018 M3 CS in the F80 generation included a more powerful twin-turbocharged engine rated at 454 horsepower in a lightweight chassis package.
Now BMW is bringing the M3 CS back in the current G80 generation with the highest performance in the model’s history.
The 2024 BMW M3 CS incorporates a 543-hp, 479 pound-feet dual overhead-cam inline 6-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission and the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
The CS engine represents a 40 horsepower upgrade from the M3 Competition model and a 70 horsepower upgrade over the base M3. Maximum torque is on tap from 2,750 rpm to the 7,200 rpm redline. With that extra power, the 2024 M3 CS will be capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 188 mph, approaching exotic car performance.
The engine has been sourced from the competition-spec BMW M4 GT3. Among its many interesting features, the core of the cylinder head is not cast, but rather made by 3D printing in metal. BMW says this allows for optimum coolant flow and design characteristics not achievable through casting or machining. Upgrades in the engine block and crank design allow maximum turbo boost pressure to be raised from 24.7 psi to 30.5 psi.
The all-wheel-drive system includes a Sport mode, which biases more power to the Active M rear differential, which is an electronically controlled variable limited slip design. The driver can also completely defeat the stability control and send 100% of power to the rear wheels, if desired.
The M3 CS suspension and brakes have been upgraded as well, and drivers may choose an optional carbon-ceramic brake package. The adaptive suspension includes electronically controlled shock dampers and special tuning throughout the chassis.
Carbon fiber, of course
Increased power and torque delivery is expected in a performance model, but the other side of that coin is reduced weight. The 2024 M3 CS will include carbon fiber reinforced plastic components throughout the vehicle. In addition to a carbon fiber roof, the M3 CS also includes a carbon fiber hood, front splitter, front air intakes, exterior mirror caps, rear diffuser, and rear spoiler.
Inside the car, the center console, shift paddles and interior trim strips are also made from carbon fiber. The standard M Carbon bucket seats trimmed in Merino leather reduce weight even more in the cabin, while a titanium rear exhaust cuts weight under the cabin. In total, the M3 Cs weighs in at 3,915 pounds, which is 75 pounds less than the M3 Competition xDrive.
BMW will outfit the M3 CS with the M Drive Professional tech kit. This includes the M Drift Analyzer, M Lap timer and M Traction Control. The system is controlled through the M Mode button on the console, allowing the driver to select from 10 levels of traction control, plus standard Road, Sport, and Track settings. These settings also change the dash display and standard head-up information display included with the M3 CS.
A curved 12.3-inch center dash display runs the latest BMW iDrive system, and is housed together with a 14.9-inch driver information display, all in a single glass enclosure. All driving-related data as well as vehicle status and settings information are displayed.
The familiar M Shift Lights appear at the top of the information display in front of the driver, while the driving stability system, M xDrive and traction control modes are all indicated at the lower edge. Special widgets containing information on the current vehicle setup, as well as tire pressure and temperature, can be added to the control display’s home screen.
Available later this year
BMW states production of the M3 CS for the U.S. market is expected to begin in March, and presumably BMW will begin deliveries some time after that. The MSRP of the 2024 M3 CS has been set at $119,695, including the $995 destination charge. It’s advisable you to contact your BMW dealer now if you want to reserve one.