2024 BMW M3 CS Ruins Every Other Sport Sedan

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read


  • BMW’s legacy has been called into question over models like the XM plug-in hybrid SUV, but the Bavarians still have the formula down for performance sedans.
  • As demonstrated on its top-of-the-line, razor-sharp 2024 BMW M3 CS, all-wheel drive and track-specific suspension tuning go a long way.
  • With 543 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, the inline six-cylinder remains relevant as well, though power is not the focus of the M3 CS.

Climbing into the inseam-splitting, carbon-backed bucket seat that characterizes many BMW M cars these days, my first impression of the 2024 BMW M3 CS came months before I would get behind the wheel of it.

Sitting shotgun with former Road & Track staffer Brian Silvestro, it all just felt a bit harsh, and I’m not talking about the ride.

From the stiff seat to the jarring shifts, the BMW M3 CS certainly isn’t designed for passenger comfort, but some extended time behind the wheel of BMW’s all-out M3 revealed that passengers are lucky to even be brought along.

a green car driving on a road

The rear-end of the M3 CS get an exclusive carbon-fiber rear spoiler and rear apron.

BMW

Everything that makes it uncomfortable as a passenger is what makes it so good as a driver.

But first, it’s important to understand what grants the M3 CS its Competition Sport title. Based on the G80 generation M3 chassis, the M3 CS is lighter thanks to its carbon-fiber reinforced plastic components, specifically its hood, roof, and front seats. Factoring in the titanium exhaust silencer, that’s a weight savings of around 75 pounds.

Weighing in at 3915 pounds overall, it’s still not a light car by sport sedan standards, but you wouldn’t know it behind the wheel.

Equipped with unique anti-roll bars and retuned, electronically adjustable dampers plus track-tuned camber settings, the M3 CS turns in as if the rubber and pavement are fused together.

Lapping the test track at BMW’s Performance Driving School in Greer, South Carolina, the journalist-beaten M3 CS units survived session after session, chasing an instructor-driven M5.

Even the electronic power steering is specially tuned to the M3 CS, allowing it to dart from side to side without inhibition, not like a four-door sedan on 275mm section front tires.

I found myself rueing the 2024 BMW M3 CS every time I got out of it.

As with all good modern performance cars, the way it behaves largely depends on how you set up its driving modes. On the M3 CS, your options include throttle response, suspension stiffness, transmission tuning, and even brake pedal feel. However, unlike many mode control modules these days, the BMW M3 CS exhibits noticeable changes.

Specifically, the brake pedal feel is switchable between comfort and sport, allowing for a street easy bite during typical driving in comfort and an eye-popping amount of clamping force in sport.

That results from the six-piston fixed calipers in the front and the versatile M-Compound brake pad material all around. Its stopping power feels almost as strong as its pulling power, truly.

two cars parked in a parking garage

The M3 CS sits on a staggered setup, with 19-inch wheels up front and 20-inch wheels out back.

BMW

Additionally, it’s worth experimenting with the transmission tuning, too. In comfort mode, the 8-speed M Steptronic transmission behaves like a particularly peppy torque-convertor automatic, happily shifting through its ratios without much feedback to the driver. Switch into Sport Plus, however, and each shift kicks like a mule in the microseconds it takes to shift.

But its effect is more than just how fast its paddle-shifted gears react. Paired with the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the transmission benefits from an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case, allowing for a fully variable distribution of power between the front and rear axles.

This is really the M3 CS’ mechanical gift to drivers, as it puts the power down better than pretty much any other M3 to date. Point it at the apex and floor it on the exit; the differential and AWD system will take care of the rest. Of course, you can select two-wheel-drive only and slide around, but it’s more reassuring to push the limits with all four wheels driven.

Pushing the limits is truthfully best reserved for the track, though, as the updated S58 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six produces 543 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. It’s lightning fast and putting your foot down creates this consistent takeoff sensation, particularly if the transmission is left to its own devices. That said, it’s not the prettiest induction sound we’ve ever heard.

the inside of a bmw engine

Cast-aluminum elements connect the spring strut towers to the chassis as a whole.

BMW

BMW is quick to point out the M3 CS’ torque curve, but this is for good reason. With nearly 500 lb-ft of torque on tap, its peak pull is realized by 2750 rpm and continues all the way to 5950 rpm. This means you don’t necessarily have to drop to the absolute lowest possible gear on the corner exit, though the low torque curve also helps with your average highway pass.

Truth be told, the M3 CS is reasonably comfortable to drive on the street, so long as you’re the one behind the wheel. With ample low-end power, strengthened engine components, and the ability to stop on a dime, it’s much more capable and potentially more durable than most other road-going sedans.

the interior of a car

Because of its two-wheel-drive capabilities, the BMW M3 CS even has a Drift Analyzer on its massive screens.

BMW

Similarly, the standardized M Performance interior is simply a nice place to be, so long as you can bear the massive dual screens, measuring 12.3 inches for the central infotainment display and 14.9 inches for the digital gauge cluster. With a little learning, you get used to seeing so much information, and the requisite sound system and HVAC function seamlessly.

Frankly, my only worry about regularly driving it on the street would be protecting the beautiful carbon-fiber front splitter, as it hangs precariously low. Remembering its rapid 14.6:1 steering ratio is worthwhile, too, as it’s much quicker to change lanes than most are used to.

In spite of these slight flaws, I found myself rueing the 2024 BMW M3 CS every time I got out of it. Having experienced it on the track and for an extended street outing, my perception of what constitutes quick steering, strong brakes, exceptional grip, and simply an exciting car to drive has now changed.

It’s for the better, thankfully, but now I have to figure out how to afford one in 10 years’ time.

Do you consider sport sedans to be true sports cars? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts below.

Headshot of Emmet White

Associate Editor

A New York transplant hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Emmet White has a passion for anything that goes: cars, bicycles, planes, and motorcycles. After learning to ride at 17, Emmet worked in the motorcycle industry before joining Autoweek in 2022. The woes of alternate side parking have kept his fleet moderate, with a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI and a 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750 street parked in his South Brooklyn community.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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