Automobile

2018 BMW M3 CS: The First Ever Four-Door CS

At BMW, the CS moniker has traditionally been used to designate sporty coupe models, dating back to the 3200CS in 1961. It migrated to the 2000CS and then was used on the first-gen 6-series. The fastest 8-series became the 850CSi, and the most awesome E46 M3 was the CSL. Now BMW is launching the first four-door CS in the form of the limited-edition M3 CS.

As you might expect, the two-letter appellation brings with it some notable performance upgrades. For starters, the S55 inline-six engine is bumped up to 453 horsepower at 6250 rpm, significantly more than the regular M3’s 425 horses and in excess of the 444 ponies available to M3 buyers who spec the $4750 Competition package.

Maximum torque increases, too, peaking at 443 lb-ft versus 406 for other M3 models. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard and, unfortunately, the only choice for the CS; the six-speed manual available on lesser M3s is not an option.

The factory-stated zero-to-60-mph time drops to 3.7 seconds, down from 3.9 or 3.8 with the Competition package, and our tests of the current-generation M3 say that should be about right. All CS models will have the Driver’s package (a $2500 option on the M3), which means its top speed is increased to 174 mph, and all buyers will receive a one-day driving class at either of BMW’s U.S. Performance Centers.

The CS’s performance enhancements were achieved with software updates, and BMW’s M division has deployed software engineers to recalibrate the chassis as well, with specific settings for the adaptive suspension, the electrically assisted power steering, the Active M Differential, and the stability-control system. The exhaust system is tuned to emit an especially aggressive sound. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.

BMW says the CS is lighter than a standard M3 by an impressive 110 pounds. Lightweight components include a carbon-fiber hood, and the carbon-fiber roof that’s optional on other M3s is standard here. Exposed carbon fiber is used for the front splitter and the decklid spoiler, and the rear diffuser is borrowed from the M4 GTS. The M3 CS rides on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, sized 265/35ZR-19 up front and 285/30ZR-20 in the rear. The design of the matte-gray wheels is said to be inspired by DTM race cars.

The interior of the M3 CS includes some special touches as well. Standard equipment includes sport seats, navigation, and a Harman/Kardon audio system. The merino-leather-trimmed interior has an exclusive gray and black color scheme, and you start the engine by pushing a red button. The cabin trim is wrapped in microsuede where you might otherwise expect wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber; the steering wheel, center console, and hand brake feature the same material. Of course, there’s plenty of CS badging, too. One neat touch: tricolor M stripes on the seatbelts.

The U.S. will get the lion’s share of M3 CS production, roughly 550 of the 1200 units planned. You can place your order for the first ever four-door CS in May 2018, but it may be a good idea to get in touch with your dealer beforehand to ensure you make it to the top of the list. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but don’t expect it to be cheap.

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