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BMW M3 CS 2024 review

Dylan Campbell

The 405kW M3 CS is the best M car we’ve driven – even if it does cost a pretty penny. Performance cars don’t get much better than this

Good points

  • Fast and exciting – not fast and scary
  • Multiple performance cars in one
  • Now has the traction to match the grunt
  • Surprisingly comfortable and practical
  • Still has plenty of little luxuries
  • Carbon fibre never gets old

Needs work

  • Cover your eyes when hitting ‘pay’
  • Not the prettiest thing
  • Fierce tyre consumption
  • Brake-by-wire pedal can feel numb
  • Seats may trap smaller occupants
  • Non-adaptive cruise control

BMW’s M3 CS is a narcotic on four wheels, a car you’ll be guiltily and hopelessly going back to for more and more – and is a contender for greatest M3 in all of M Division’s long and storied back catalogue, it’s that good.

Whatever your thoughts on the rodent-like styling of the new BMW M3, they’ll vaporise into oblivion after a few drives in the new G80 instalment of the CS, which has landed in Australia. The all-wheel-drive M3 CS is sold alongside the rear-drive M4 CSL.

BMW M3 CS 2024 rear 3/4 2

The CS was the best iteration of the previous F80-generation – and a major part of its winning formula was the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, which are also standard fitment on the car we have today (and which we’ll talk about more later in this review – including their eye-watering cost).

Compared to its predecessor, the new M3 CS’s outputs are up 67kW/50Nm – thanks to the new S58 3.0-litre straight-six – even if weight is also up 180kg. A lot of that has to do with the addition of all-wheel-drive. The seven-speed dual-clutch auto is also replaced with an eight-speed torque converter transmission.

The price has also increased. While the F80 M3 CS cost $179,900 just five years ago, in that time the price has risen nearly 40 percent for the new G80 version we’ve got today. (Hopefully the RBA’s efforts can get the price of M3 CSs back down.)

BMW M3 CS 2024 front 3/4 3

The track-focused M3 CS doesn’t really have any rivals. The new Mercedes-AMG C63 is now a weird hot-hatch-sedan, hybrid four-cylinder and a lot heavier, while Audi doesn’t make a track-focused version of its RS4 or RS5.

The closest you might come is Alfa Romeo’s Giulia Quadrifoglio, spiritually similar but ultimately out-paced in a straight line, and also likely seconds slower around any given racetrack.

BMW M3 CS 2024 badge 4

BMW is only planning on bringing in 94 M3 CSs and we understand most of those have already been snapped up though a few are still available to buy.

Chasing Cars tested the new M3 CS on the winding roads near Healesville, an hour east of Melbourne in Victoria.

What are the M3 CS’s features and options for the price?

The M3 CS is $249,900 before on-road costs, a startling $72,100 more than the M3 Competition xDrive. Of course, that gets you exclusivity, rarity and more performance.

The CS shares the same performance fundamentals as the M3 Competition, such as:

  • 2993cc S58 inline-six with twin mono-scroll turbochargers
  • Lightweight forged crankshaft, 3D-printed cylinder head core
  • Performance M xDrive all-wheel-drive system
  • Eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission
  • 19-inch front wheels, 20-inch rear
  • Brake-by-wire system
  • Active locking M rear differential

Thanks to an increase in boost pressure from 9.9psi to 15.7psi, power is up 30kW from 375kW to 405kW (at 6250rpm) while peak torque remains 650Nm, however is now available from 2750rpm to 5950rpm, instead of until 5500rpm – 450rpm higher.

BMW says the 0-100km/h time has dropped from 3.5sec to 3.4sec, while the top speed lifts from 290km/h to 304km/h (both capped with a limiter).

BMW M3 CS 2024 engine

For overtaking, the 80-120km/h time is unchanged at 2.6sec in fourth gear, but try it in fifth and you can do it a tenth faster – 3.3sec for the CS versus 3.4sec for the standard M3 Competition.

Additionally the CS gets a “bespoke” chassis set-up, stiffer engine mounts and standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in the same size as the M3 Competition – 275/35 ZR19 front and 285/30 ZR20 rear. There’s also CS-specific tuning for the electronic stability control (ESC) including the reduced MDM setting.

To be sure, while CS is a continuation of sorts of the CSL brand – which dates back to the 1930s and stood for Coupe, Sport and Lightweight – it’s not entirely coincidental that the L has dropped off the end for the all-wheel-drive M3, and kept for the rear-drive, genuinely lighter M4 CSL.

BMW M3 CS 2024 wheel 4

Where past CSLs like the E46 M3 spurned air-conditioning and even a stereo in a fanatical pursuit of weight-saving – perhaps a Jenny Craig membership should have been a no-cost option – the modern-day MS CS is brimming with standard equipment, such as:

  • Electrically adjustable front driver and passenger ‘M Carbon Bucket’ seats
  • Front seat heaters
  • Full ‘Merino’ leather interior
  • 14.9-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 12.3-inch central infotainment touchscreen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Wireless Android Auto
  • Head-up display
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Harmon Kardon sound system
  • Wireless phone charger

BMW M3 CS 2024 roof

BMW has still made a mostly cosmetic effort to drop the weight of the standard M3, which tips the scales at 1780kg (DIN – which means ready to drive with 90 percent full tank of fuel). As part of the CS treatment the M3 gains:

  • Carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet
  • CFRP front bumper
  • CFRP front air intakes
  • CFRP side exterior mirror caps
  • CFRP rear diffuser and rear spoiler
  • CFRP bespoke centre console (shared with M4 CSL)
  • CFRP shift paddles
  • Titanium rear muffler

This all contributes to a 15kg weight saving, the M3 CS coming in at 1765kg (DIN).

BMW M3 CS 2024 mirror

Making a more meaningful difference to the weight, our test car came with the optional $16,500 carbon ceramic brakes in high-gloss red, making for an as-tested price of $266,400 before on-road costs.

While BMW couldn’t tell us how much weight the carbons save for the M3 CS, on other BMW models they can save 20kg compared to steel. And that’s all-important unsprung weight, too.

Curiously the M3 CS comes with BMW’s basic Driving Assistant which spurns all advanced driver assistance for simple, non-distance adjustable cruise control.

BMW M3 CS 2024 headlight close

As part of the price, BMW includes a ticket to its M Advance 2 Driving Experience course, although the “program is currently being reviewed”. Best chat to BMW about an alternative.

Other CS-specific bits include the BMW Laserlight headlights with yellow details (visible during the day), the M front end strut brace, wheels available in black or gold bronze, and four paint options – Frozen Solid White, BMW Individual Signal Green, M Brooklyn Grey metallic and Black Sapphire metallic.

How does the M3 CS drive?

Based on how it drives, if someone told you the M3 CS was made somewhere in South America and clandestinely imported into Australia in glad-wrapped bricks, you’d believe them.

There’s a bit of Porsche 911 GT2 RS to the way the M3 CS drives. The now discontinued, previous 991.2-generation 911 GT2 RS was all about stunning turbocharged power, masses of mid-corner grip, a precision and fidelity within the chassis despite the enormous performance, and an overall track-focused flavour.

Mostly, however, it was just fresh-out-of-the-asylum fast.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving far

The same can be said about the M3 CS which, while not quite in the same performance league, feels from the same planet as Porsche’s wild road-racer. This is a very serious car.

Having picked up the fat-stanced M3 CS from BMW’s headquarters in eastern Melbourne, the first thing we notice is you can sit very low if you want to. The CS then starts with a burst of obviously artificial engine noise but settles to a loud, mean, burbling (and real-deal) idle.

Despite its bespoke suspension tune, the adaptively damped CS still rides superbly, making for a pretty comfortable car – if you forgive the hard edge and constant road information courtesy of the solid suspension mounts and stiffly-sidewalled tyres. Hit a cat’s eye and you’ll feel it through the whole car (and quickly learn they’re best slalomed-around).

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving interior

The M3 CS also has the mostly highly strung torque converter transmission this road tester has experienced, almost putting it on par with the old dual-clutch unit for refinement. If you wanted a nice, smooth, torque converter experience, you won’t really find it in the M3 CS, even in the most relaxed of all its many settings.

There’s also plenty of vibration and external noise – that only increases with speed – but not a wholly rude amount, it must be said. For its carbon-fibre bits and obvious racy DNA, the M3 CS hasn’t lost all its manners.

For the most part, this is a very easy car to drive everyday – save for having to keep the jutting front carbon splitter somewhat front-of-mind every time you enter a driveway or car park. (It doesn’t scrape too easily, but it looks expensive enough you wouldn’t want to ever find out.)

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving rear 3/4 3

Having negotiated suburbia we arrive at Chum Creek Road at the foot of the Great Dividing Range east, and it’s time to uncork one of the hottest-ever cars from BMW’s M Division.

As we push into the first handful of corners, the CS’s nose gently washes into early understeer, felt easily through the direct, quick-racked steering and Alcantara wheel. The Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres, with their 240 treadwear, are still waking up – and a digital tyre temperature graphic displayed in the instrument cluster reveals as much.

As the tyres heat up, however, the levels of grip increase almost exponentially, allowing you to clear the brake earlier and earlier, carrying more and more speed into corners – to the point you’re very grateful for the very snug carbon-backed seats.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving front 3/4 2

At full tyre temperature, there’s an almost silly, laugh-out-loud amount of lateral grip. Of course, you can also brake later and later, and get into the throttle increasingly early and greedily, making for very rapid progress. The M3 CS is a very fast car.

Importantly, all the while there’s an abundance of communication from the tyres to your hands and bum, instilling huge confidence. Unlike the last-generation M3 with its devilishly spiky, might-just-kill-you, rear-drive power delivery, all-wheel-drive has turned the 405kW CS from a wild animal into something much more domesticated.

Matching the grip is the power. From deliberately low in the revs in too tall a gear, under full throttle the CS’s turbos hiss heavily until the taps of torque open and hurl the car forward like it weighs 1300kg, while extend the engine towards its 7200rpm redline and you’ll find a venomous top-end that punches hard right to the limiter.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving side

It purrs and snarls, and as well as the turbo’s hissing there are exhaust pops and crackles on the overrun, a technical straight-six intake noise that’s artificial but believable – and welcome. This is an angry-sounding car with plenty of aural intrigue.

Of course, there’s no shortage of traction. And all-wheel-drive is revolutionary for the M3 in the best possible way.

The “2WD” mode gives the best of both worlds. While we didn’t try the CS in rear-drive mode (you have to have the DSC fully off), we expect it would be a different car again, a slower one but a very, very fun one. There’d be no trouble whatsoever overwhelming the grip of the rear tyres with 405kW and 650Nm.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving front close 2

Like the M3 Competition, the CS gets the deliciously responsive M Active Locking rear differential, while in the centre menu there’s the M Drift Analyser which can measure drift angle and your longest sideways effort in metres (on a track, of course).

And the modes – oh, the modes. Myriad settings mean you can match the M3 to your mood very easily. The two, red M1 and M2 toggles on the steering wheel allow you to select from predetermined combinations engine, suspension, all-wheel-drive, steering, brakes, exhaust, transmission, ESC and start-stop.

We counted 15,552 possible combinations of settings – and that’s excluding the 10-stage traction control.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving front close

The final modes we ended up with were Sport Plus engine, Comfort steering, Sport brakes and 4WD Sport, which gives a feeling of traction-enhanced rear-wheel-drive. The reduced MDM ESC setting – recalibrated for CS – is also very trusting such that there’s no point turning off ESC altogether, power oversteer available well into third gear.

Sport Plus engine mode, along with the firmer engine mounts, means razor sharp throttle response, but not in a harsh way. Sport Plus damping is even an option on the road, firm but not in an unusable way, and is almost necessary to contain body-roll in the face of such tremendous mechanical grip.

The torque converter auto is effectively as rapid up the gears as the old dual-clutch, snatching new gears greedily – and is probably just as fast down the gears, too. But we love that the eight evenly-spaced gears mean there’s a ratio for basically every corner. You’ve never out of the engine’s sweet spot, unless you want to be.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving rear 3/4 2

The optional carbon-ceramic brakes offer massive and reliable stopping ability, and we like that they make a bit of race-inspired squeal at low speeds. Although one criticism we’d level at the M3 CS is the brake-by-wire, which forgoes any mechanical connection between the pedal and the hardware itself.

It means that the brakes can be difficult to modulate and become a bit grabby when coming to a stop. A mechanical braking system would have been preferable.

But on the whole, it doesn’t get much better than this. And the best part of Chum Creek Road is that at the end, there’s plenty of space to turn around.

What is the M3 CS’s interior and tech like?

There’s a bit of Berlin basement nightclub about the M3 CS’s interior, which has a punkish vibe owing to the black leather, red stitching and abundant glossy black, mesmerising weave of carbon-fibre. The Alcantara steering wheel adds a racy touch like many track-focused cars of the past.

The wide, large, curved display fills a lot of your forward outlook and breaks up the delinquent, thuggish theme with a high-tech touch.

BMW M3 CS 2024 interior 3
BMW M3 CS 2024 interior front seat

While there’s plenty of carbon-fibre – including right down to the wafer-thin, carbon-fibre shift paddles – there are still standard equipment items like the electrically adjustable, heated memory front seats. There are even normal interior door handles – no strips of annoying cloth here.

All the air conditioning controls are contained in the central touchscreen but in as ergonomic and sensible way as you could hope.

They sit permanently at the bottom of the screen – even when Apple Carplay is in use – and a physical ledge beneath the screen, whether placed deliberately or not, gives a spot to rest your hand when driving, making it easier to accurately change the temperature.

BMW M3 CS 2024 interior screen
BMW M3 CS 2024 interior back seat

While there are parking sensors front and rear, the CS only comes with a basic reversing camera – no 360-degree parking view here.

Owing to its 3 Series origins, there’s plenty of space for adults in the back seat, although the CS-specific carbon-fibre centre console, while extremely cool, has seen the deletion of the rear air-vents. The large, 480-litre boot with 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats is also a nice by-product of the CS’s 3 Series basis – as are the boot-situated levers for remotely folding down the rear seats.

There are two sets of ISOFIX mounting points on the outboard rear seats and three top tether anchorages, while encounter a puncture and you’re only option is a tyre inflator kit – or roadside assistance and a tow truck, more probably.

BMW M3 CS 2024 boot 2

You must try the racy seats before you buy the car. The lower side bolsters are very high and they could create a yoga pose out of the technique required to get in and out of the car. To be sure, people over a certain age might never be able to get out of them.

They’re tight-fitting, almost like a running shoe, and there’s an unusual carbon-fibre, plastic mound in the crotch area which constrains the space for your thighs. While they’re beautifully supportive during hard cornering, and upholstered in BMW’s richest leather grade, Merino, bigger people might simply not comfortably fit in them.

Is the M3 CS a safe car?

The M3 CS is a very safe car, even if being based on the G20 3 Series – which entered production in 2018 – means it’s not technically as ‘safe’ as the very latest-generation cars entering the market right now.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash-tested the current-generation 3 Series in 2019 and scored it five stars, although this only applies to the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder variants. The 3 Series would not score five stars under the current ANCAP criteria, which has become much stricter.

BMW M3 CS 2024 front

The M3 CS comes with the following safety features as standard:

  • Seven airbags (no front-centre airbag)
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane change warning
  • Autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse)
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Reversing camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Driver monitor

As mentioned earlier, the M3 CS does without adaptive cruise control and BMW’s advanced driver assistance systems – which is probably just fine for many buyers. The Lane Keep Assist works as intended and credit to someone somewhere at BMW, when you turn it off – as most owners won’t require assistance keeping in their lane, we hope – it remains off even after you restart the car.

What are the M3 CS’s ownership costs?

If you plan on using your M3 CS as a daily driver, it’s obviously going to be pricier than the average car to run. BMW quotes the CS as using slightly more fuel than the standard M3 Competition, both of which are recommended to run on 98RON, but can accept 95RON.

Our test car had gone through three sets of tyres in 6000km but that’s being driven by overexcited members of the motoring press. At the time of this review, a new set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres for the M3 CS cost $3236. A single rear tyre alone is $900. This would be a different car on different tyres, too, we suspect.

BMW M3 CS 2024 fill up 2

Servicing is $5535 over five years and 80,000km, and with BMW Australia using ‘condition-based’ servicing, there are no set service intervals. The warranty is an industry standard five years, unlimited kilometres.

If you wait long enough the M3 CS might appreciate in value, although it’s probably going to dip significantly in the interim. The previous generation M3 CS cost $179,900 brand new in 2019 and five years later can be had for as little as $110K on the used market.

The honest verdict on the M3 CS

The M3 CS is the best M car this road-tester has driven. On that very fortunate and privileged list includes E46 M3 CSL, E92 M3, F80 M3 (including CS), 1M, M2 including Competition, the new G80 M2, F10 M5 and the latest M5 Competition (although no M5 CS, sadly). A lot of M cars over many years, basically – in addition to the quirky but very cool i8.

There aren’t many cars that somehow mysteriously mix everyday useability with such a hardcore sense of focus. Every drive is an occasion, and yet unlike so many performance models, never tiresome.

BMW M3 CS 2024 driving side 2

And on a winding road, the M3 CS combines fun and fast in equal measure. Where the old rear-drive M3 could be a bit white-knuckle, even with more power there’s nothing scary about the new one. Thanks to all-wheel-drive the extra performance comes with less fear, more excitement.

There’s no gimmickry about all its many settings, either. You are buying multiple performance cars in one with the M3 CS, a car that will take a long time to explore.

Yes, it’s expensive. If we let the pesky head talk over the heart, it’s difficult not to wonder if an M3 Competition with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres would feel like 90 percent of an M3 CS for 70 percent of the cost – but of course it’s illogical to introduce logic when purchasing performance cars. Just do it.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2993 cc
405kW at 6250rpm
650Nm at 2750rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
59 litres
9.6L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
614km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
4794 mm
1887 mm
1393 mm
Unoccupied weight
1730 kg

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