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With the wraps having come off of the M4 CSL last year, BMW has officially ended almost two years of speculation after unveiling the all-new M3 CS in the early hours of Wednesday (25 January) morning.

‘Featherweight’ M3

Returning after a five-year hiatus, the CS, or Clubsport, takes up position above the M3 Competition, but below the M4 CSL with less extreme weight saving measures having been applied.

Unlike the previous model based on F80 M3, the new G80 based CS doesn’t come with the option of a manual gearbox or rear-wheel-drive as the xDrive all-wheel-drive system has been carried over from the M3 Competition.

ALSO READ: CS before CSL? BMW reportedly working on semi-hardcore M3

Aesthetically, the M3 CS’s differences from the Competition are easy to spot and consist of the yellow bulb BMW Laserlights from the M4 CSL and M5 CS, a carbon fibre lip spoiler, a frameless M3 CS badged kidney grille with red pinstriping and black accents, exposed carbon fibre mirror caps, black side skirts and a carbon fibre roof.

The use of carbon fibre continues on the side air intakes, rear apron, diffuser and bootlid spoiler with a red border starring on the M3 CS badge on the bootlid itself.

Rounding the exterior off is the standard V-spoke gold bronze or optional matte black 19-inch at the front and 20-inch at the rear M-light alloy wheels and a choice of four colours; Frozen Solid White Metallic, Sapphire Black Metallic, Brooklyn Grey Metallic and the model exclusive Signal Green launch hue.

New BMW M3 CS hits the ground
Signal Green – one of four colours available

Dialed-up chassis

Underneath, the CLAR platform has been reworked from that of the M3 Competition, with, as mentioned, weight saving having been key.

Besides the use of carbon fibre on the exterior, BMW has crafted the silencer for the exhaust system out of titanium in order to save four kilogrammes, which it claims has helped the M3 CS drop 20 kg in weight to 1 765 kg compared to the xDrive all-paw gripping M3 Competition.

In addition the optional M carbon ceramic brakes with its red or matte gold calipers – the standard M compound stoppers being identified by black or red calipers – BMW has also retuned the electromechanical M Servotronic power steering, adjusted the electronic M adaptive dampers to suite the M3 CS and revised the anti-roll bars, dampers, springs and kinematics of the axles.

BMW M3 CS revealed
Yellow bulb Laserlights a standard addition

A new strut brace, made out of die-cast aluminium, completes the chassis’ alterations, together with an adjusted Dynamic Stability Control system that can be switched off entirely, Active M Differential and more bias on the rear wheels even when in default 4WD or 4WD Sport modes.

Inside

Continuing the weight saving principle, the M3 CS’ interior incorporates not only the M Carbon bucket seats trimmed in Merino leather as standard, but carbon fibre inserts and use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic in the backrests, cushions and side bolsters of the seats themselves.

Electric, heated and resplendent with illuminated M3 CS badging integrated into the headrests, a black/red stitch pattern features on the chairs, which are joined by rear pews as, unlike with the M4 CSL, a delete option is not offered as a means of reducing weight further.

BMW M3 CS revealed
Interior revisions small, but easy to spot

Completing the interior’s adaptations are M specific graphics, menus and layouts with the 14.9-inch iDrive infotainment system and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that makes-up Curved Display, illuminated M3 CS door sills, an anthracite roofliner, carbon fibre inlays and 12 o’clock marking on the Alcantara wrapped steering wheel, the M seat belts, CS badging on the centre console and black leather door panels.

An M specific Head-Up Display can, however, be specified as part of the optional M Drive Professional pack that offers three display settings for when Road, Sport or Race modes are selected.

Power punch

Up front, and as a means of complimenting the M4 CSL, BMW has lifted the uprated S58 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine directly from the coupe without any changes.

BMW M3 CS revealed
M Carbon bucket seats come fitted as standard

This means outputs of 405kW/650Nm, a top speed of 302 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package fitted and 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. As mentioned, drive is routed to all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox.

Coming to South Africa

Confirmed for South Africa from the third quarter of this year, a reported 20 of the 1 000 examples BMW will make have been allocated with pricing to be announced at a later stage.

Expect a premium though over the sticker price of the M3 Competition that currently retails from R2 040 797.