M3 gets harder edge with new CS

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Limited-edition BMW M3 CS will be fastest-accelerating M3 yet; 0-62mph in 3.9sec

BMW’s M division has applied its latest performance-enhancing Club Sport treatment to the fifth-generation M3 with the introduction of the limited-edition M3 CS.

The new performance saloon is powered by a 454bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six and follows the M4 CS, with which it shares much of its mechanical package. The M3 CS will be available to order in the UK in January 2018, with deliveries due after a planned start to production in March.

Building on the developments used on the M3 Competition Package, the M3 CS adopts a number of lightweight body components in line with the approach taken for the M4 CS. These include a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic roof and bonnet. The new roof is claimed to save 6kg over the steel structure used by the standard M3.

Further lightweight components include a carbonfibre front splitter, a lift-reducing boot-deck-mounted Gurney spoiler and
a sizeable diffuser.

“The M3 CS is set to go on sale in the UK in January 2018”

Inside, the M3 CS acquires the lightweight M sport seats and sport steering wheel from the M3 Competition Package. Borrowing a cue from the new M5, there’s also a new red starter button.

Despite the focus on performance, features such as BMW’s Professional navigation system, climate control air conditioning and a Harman Kardon sound system are fitted as standard and the rear seats are retained. However, buyers can specify the new four-door with a series of unique Alcantara and leather accents as an option.

Overall, BMW M claims a 10kg reduction over the standard M3, at 1585kg. Although this is not a significant loss, insiders suggest the M3 CS’s centre of gravity is lower than that of the already heavily focused M3 Competition Package.

Power for the M3 CS comes from the same evolution of BMW M’s twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine unveiled in the M4 CS.

With 454bhp at 6250rpm and 443lb ft of torque from 4000rpm to 5380rpm, the longitudinally mounted unit develops 29bhp and 37lb ft more than the motor used by the standard M3. It also packs 10bhp and 37lb ft more than the earlier evolution of the engine developed for the M3 Competition Package.

This endows the M3 CS with a power-to-weight ratio of 286bhp per tonne, some 20bhp per tonne more than the standard M3 and an incremental 8bhp more than the M3 Competition Package, according to BMW M figures.

Power is channelled through a standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and electronically controlled M differential to the rear wheels.

BMW quotes a 0-62mph time of 3.9sec, making the M3 CS the fastest-accelerating road-going M3 model yet. By comparison, the standard M3 has an official 0-62mph time of 4.1sec and the M3 Competition Package takes 4.0sec.

The top speed of the new limited-edition M3 CS is governed at the same 174mph as that of the M3 Competition Package.

Along with the bump in power and torque, the new engine also receives a reworked sports exhaust featuring what BMW M describes as a CS-specific exhaust note.

The M3 CS rides on a specially tuned version of the M3 Competition Package’s suspension. It is combined with standard 19in front wheels shod with 265/35 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and 20in rear wheels with 285/30 rubber.

In line with the M3 Competition Package, the M3 CS also employs BMW M’s compound brake package, which features four-pot calipers up front and two-pot calipers at the rear.

Production of the M3 CS will take place at BMW’s Regensburg plant in Germany and volumes will be limited to 1200 units.

The car will be priced from £86,380 in the UK, nearly £30,000 more than the earlier M3 Competition Package. The UK’s right-hand-drive allocation for the M3 CS will be limited to fewer than 100 cars.

GREG KABLE

Enthusiasts want cars like the M2 but hybrids are “inevitable”

HYBRID M CARS ARE IN THE PIPELINE, BMW CONFIRMS

BMW’s M performance division is already testing prototype cars powered by hybrid powertrains, the firm’s vice president Dirk Hacker has confirmed.

Although he declined to elaborate on the details of the powertrain BMW is working on, or which cars it could potentially be used in, he confirmed development work was under way and future M hybrid cars are “inevitable”.

“We cannot avoid the need for electrification and it is true that we are working on hybrid power already,” said Hacker. “For now, all I will say is that we are working on a very precise technical solution, but there is no final decision on how to deploy the concept.”

Hacker said the potential weight gain from running a hybrid powertrain and the impact that would have on a car’s pace and agility were major concerns.

“Adding mass to performance cars is never ideal,” he said. “But if we can use electrification to install more performance, then we start to have the answers. That might be more speed, or it might be the ability for a car to be driven on electric power in a city. It might also be the case that we need different answers to that question in different cities.”

Hacker’s answer suggests that tighter emissions regulations could force BMW to electrify M cars in the short term if they are to retain their sales appeal of being usable every day. However, he also stressed that the latest generation of electric technology, set to be launched by BMW in 2021, offered engineers far more options than ever before.

“The better the batteries and the more efficient the electric motors, the better the solutions will be for M,” he said. “We are working on always making better cars.”

Hacker also confirmed BMW was committed to building combustion-engined M cars for as long as it was legislatively possible. “For some enthusiasts, they will always have advantages, and we have seen with the sales of the M2, which are well past expectations, that these are the kinds of cars many enthusiasts still want,” he said.