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New BMW M3 CS boosts power to 542bhp

The new BMW M3 CS boasts the same power output as the M4 CSL, with a limited top speed of 188mph

Following in the wheeltracks of last year’s M4 CSL coupé, BMW has unveiled a more extreme version of its M3 saloon. Called the BMW M3 CS, the new car boasts an uprated engine with more power compared with the regular M3 Competition on which it’s based, as well as alterations to the chassis and lightweight parts that, collectively, aim to improve handling.

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The M3 CS’s engine output highlights its positioning, with the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six unit producing 542bhp (39bhp more than the M3 Competition and identical to the M4 CSL) and 650Nm of torque.

Where the CS and CSL differ, however, is that whereas the CSL is rear-drive only, this hottest version of the M3 saloon comes with BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system. Combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and launch control, it delivers a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed that is limited to 188mph.

The extra power has been liberated thanks to a boost in turbo pressure and model-specific tweaks to the engine management system. There are also new, stiffer engine mounts for the CS “to create an extremely rigid connection between the power unit and the vehicle’s structure”.

The engine breathes through a dual-branch exhaust set-up with a titanium silencer, saving 4kg compared with the standard car’s arrangement.

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BMW says the CS also features a model-specific tune for its ESC settings, including the M Dynamic mode, while the car’s suspension has been honed with new, bespoke settings for the adaptive  suspension dampers and anti-roll bar,
as well as new rates for the auxiliary springs, designed to optimise steering precision. Increased body rigidity, thanks
to cast-aluminium strut braces in the engine bay, should also help to improve the saloon’s precision and response.

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M compound brakes are fitted as standard, while carbon-ceramic items are an optional extra. The standard set-up features 19-inch wheels at the front and 20-inch rims at the rear, all shod in track-ready rubber developed especially for this CS model.

Backing up this extra track focus is the extensive use of lightweight materials throughout the M3 CS. This includes a carbon-fibre roof, with the same material used for the bonnet, front splitter and air intakes, door mirrors, rear spoiler and the large rear diffuser element.

Inside, the centre console, shift paddles and interior trim strips are all made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, too. The use of M carbon-fibre bucket seats also helps to further reduce weight, with the combined total reduction standing at 20kg compared with the standard M3 Competition in four-wheel-drive M xDrive specification.

Many of the lightweight elements also give the M3 CS its aggressive look, with Frozen Solid White (exclusive to the M3 CS) contrasting with the carbon-fibre parts. Signal Green (pictured), Brooklyn Grey and Sapphire Black are also available. The CS features a lightweight frameless kidney grille with red details and CS badging. Laser headlights are fitted as standard, and they illuminate in yellow, as per the M4 CSL.

There are more bespoke CS parts inside, where the car features BMW’s curved displays as part of its latest-generation Operating System 8 infotainment set-up. A 12.3-inch digital dash and a 14.9-inch display sit beneath a continuous, curved glass panel, while the CS also comes with BMW’s M Drive Professional system, which is controlled through the infotainment.

It includes the firm’s M Drift Analyser and Laptimer tech, and there’s also an M Traction Control package with 10 distinct settings.

The M3 CS is priced from £115,900, which is a £33,235 increase over a regular M xDrive-equipped M3 Competition model. The new car goes on sale in March, with deliveries set to start soon after.

Click here for our list of the best performance cars on sale right now...

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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