It’s hard for BMW enthusiasts not to be incredibly excited about the M3 CS. After the dynamite M2 CS and M5 CS, those two letters carry a lot of weight. Naturally, fans—including myself—are hoping that BMW can replicate the sensational driving dynamics of the two aforementioned cars with the new 2024 BMW M3 CS. Now that it’s finally here, the specs look promising.
Big Time Power
Obviously, the 2024 BMW M3 CS gets more power than the standard car, while not stepping on the M4 CSL’s toes. So the M3 CS’ 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged ‘S58’ inline-six makes 543 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That power increase was made simply by increasing boost pressure from 24.7 to 30.5 psi and giving it a slight engine tune. Peak torque is from 2,750-5,950 rpm and peak horsepower is from 6,250-7,200 rpm. It should sound better, too, thanks to a titanium rear silencer.
As expected, the M3 CS uses the same ZF eight-speed automatic transmission as the M4 CSL. However, unlike the M4 CSL, the M3 CS uses BMW M’s xDrive all-wheel drive system and limited-slip rear diff. Even with slightly less power and more weight, the BMW M3 CS might actually be quicker than the M4 CSL in a straight line, due to its added traction.
From the outside, the 2024 BMW M3 CS looks nearly identical to the M4 CSL, just toned down a touch. For instance, it has the same grille insert, the same front air intakes, a similar lower front lip, and nearly the same hood stripes. The latter of which lack the CSL’s red accents but they’re essentially carryover. The two main stylistic differences are the M3 CS’s lack of ducktail rear spoiler, which was replaced by a tack on rear spoiler, and the obvious addition of two doors. They look so similar that they just look like two and four-door versions of the same car, for better or worse. Though, the M3 CS does get two extra colors, as it’s available in Brooklyn Grey, Black Sapphire Metallic, Frozen White Metallic, and Signal Green.
One little bummer is that the rear seats of the M3 CS aren’t the awesome rear bucket seats of the M5 CS. Sure, those weren’t very practical but they made it special. It would have been exciting if BMW gave the M3 CS similar seats, at least as an option. However, it still has a full rear seat bench and two extra doors, so it’s not quite as impractical as the M4 CSL. No rear hood net, either.
iDrive 8 and Carbon Bucket Seats
As for the rest of the cabin, the BMW M3 CS gets the same armrest, or lack thereof, as the M4 CSL, with only a little carbon fiber tunnel and a leather elbow rest. The front seats are the same carbon fiber bucket seats that you’ll find in the M3 Competition, not the optional manually adjustable jobs of the M4 CSL. However, that’s sort of the name of the game, as the M3 CS is supposed to be more livable, more practical than the M4 CSL, which is more of a pure track car. The 2024 BMW M3 CS is a road car, one that can be used everyday, that has track capabilities. So its interior is appropriate.
Only one color scheme is available for the cabin; black with Mugello red accents. Though, that’s not surprising, given BMW’s recent offerings. The biggest interior change for the M3 CS is its addition of iDrive 8 and its accompanying curved dual-screen setup. That shows BMW wants this to be more of a daily driver, as it has the more high-tech, comprehensive infotainment system, rather than the simpler, less distracting iDrive 7 used in the M4 CSL.
Along with iDrive 8 comes some interesting standard equipment, such as the M Drive Professional package. That brings the M Drift Analyzer, M Laptimer, and the ten-way traction control system.
CS Without the L
The ‘CSL’ badge stands for “Competition Sport Lightweight,” which is why the M4 CSL is the lightest of all M3/M4 models, at just under 3,700 lbs. That means the 2024 BMW M3 CS, with its 3,915 lb curb weight, is 75 lbs lighter than the M3 Competition but not quite as light as the CSL. It has some similar weight reduction measures as the CSL, such as the carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber hood, and stripped out interior.
Without testing the M3 CS, there’s no way to tell if it has more sound deadening but it wouldn’t be surprising. The M4 CSL is so loud inside, you can hear every pebble and stone hit its underbelly. If the M3 CS is meant to be more livable, it will likely be quieter and more refined. However, don’t expect it to be quite as refined as the M3 Competition.
Can BMW Recapture the CS Magic?
I think it’s fair to say that the BMW M2 CS and M5 CS were the two best driving Bimmers of the decade and will be considered among the all-time greats. To try and replicate that for magic for the M3 CS, it was made stiffer than the M3 Competition, with additional structural bracing, as well as unique suspension and chassis tuning. Its suspension kinematics, bushings, camber settings, anti-roll bars, and electronically controlled dampers were all tuned specifically for the M3 CS, giving it the best possible chance to be as good as its predecessors. Even the traction control was uniquely designed for the M3 CS, proving that it isn’t just a fancy badge and an engine tune.
Another helpful tool in making the M3 CS special is its choice of tire. Rather than the M3 Competition’s Michelin PS4S tires, the M3 CS gets Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires as a no-cost option (they’re not standard because they aren’t particularly friendly with cold or wet climates). They’re not quite as aggressive as the M4 CSL’s Cup 2 R tires but they’re close.
Those ultra sticky tires wrap around a model-specific V-spoke wheel design, 275/35/ZR19 at the front and 285/30/ZR20 at the rear. Those wheels can be had in either Gold Bronze or matte black.
Could This Be the Sweet Spot?
The 2024 BMW M3 CS has a chance to be the sweet spot in the M3 lineup. It’s more powerful, lighter, faster, and more capable than the M3 Competition but more usable, comfortable, and versatile than the M4 CSL. On paper, at least, it seems to have replicated the formula that made the M2 CS and M5 CS so good. Now we wait until we can test it to truly find out.
Production will begin in March 2024
The rumor is that less than 2,000 units will be manufactured globally
Yes, the 2024 BMW M3 CS (G80) comes with the BMW M xDrive all-wheel drive system
Unlike the M5 CS, the BMW M3 CS does not feature bucket seats for rear-seating passengers
The MSRP is $118,700 plus $995 destination and handling.