5 thoughts about the 2024 BMW M3 CS

The 2024 BMW M3 CS is the sharpest edge of the 3 Series lineup. It offers huge power, head-turning design, a track-ready driving demeanor and seats that will, uh, get your attention. In a week where I also drove the 2024 Maserati MC20, the M3 CS starred in its own right as a performance sedan with attitude. Here are five thoughts on the 2024 BMW M3 C3.

1. It surprised me

It really did. I was ready to write off the M3 CS as overpriced, over-styled and in general, overwrought. It’s not. It is over-the-top, yet it’s also a sophisticated evolution of the most recent M3 sedans, which have grown ever more technical and powerful. 

The fact that I felt some dissonance — the M3 is a bit much, but it’s also worth it — made me think more and stoked greater passion than if it was simply as good as I expected. It’s destined for the track, but it can be a daily driver.

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2. It’s a decent value. Ish

This M3 CS stickered for $132,695. It’s almost exactly the cost of three Toyota Supras. You could get a 2004 six-speed manual M3 convertible for $28,000 and have more than $100 grand left over for more toys or a downpayment on a new house.

I drove a Maserati MC20 the same week I was in the M3. The Maser starts at $212,000, and with all of the options it hits nearly $300,000 out the door. In the context of dropping more than a quarter of a million dollars on a supercar, the MC20 felt like a screaming deal compared to some Lambos and Porsches. 

I didn’t feel that way about the M3. Still, six figures is on-par for this segment, and the M3 is a lot of car, especially in CS trim. You get all of the M stuff, plus 543 horses that can be as angry or docile as you like, gobs of carbon, lime green paint and gold wheels. Plus there’s xDrive all-wheel drive, the adaptive M suspension and the M Sport differential. Grip the Alcantara steering wheel, mash the throttle and feel your blood pressure rise. It’s a supercar with four doors. A track machine with a purpose, as the name — Competition Sport — declares. Almost 133 grand is the cost of doing business.

3. Six cylinders with character

The 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six is a monster and output is lifted 40 horsepower over the M3 Competition. The CS will hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and make an angry fuss while doing so. While I thought the MC20 was a better value relative to its peers, I actually preferred the straight-six in the M3 versus Maserati’s Nettuno twin-turbo V6 mounted behind my ears, and I drove them back-to-back. The BMW motor had a bit more character, sounded angrier and gave the M3 a mean streak. The Nettuno V6 felt a bit buzzy.

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4. The huge grille works on this particular BMW

But certainly not all of ‘em. Here’s my criteria: The tall kidneys work on large crossovers as well as high-performance coupes and sedans. Generally, I like it. The haters don’t appreciate risk-taking design. Or a nod to heritage, tangential as the link to the 503 may be. This M3 comes in Signal Green (signaling to all that you like things lime colored), 19/20-inch bronze wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes with gold calipers. Why wouldn’t you want a huge grille to top it all off? 

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5. The seats!

You will notice them. The M carbon bucket seats have a carbon divider at the bottom of the base set between your legs. It’s good for aggressive driving at high g-forces and is a cool design element, as BMW Magazine notes. As far as getting in and out of the car, do so at your own risk. Once settled, they do offer outstanding support, as the bolsters grab your rib cage with authority. 

The seats themselves are a technological marvel, created with a carbon-fiber reinforced polymer structure. They’re heated, have illuminated CS badging in the headrests and are done up in Merino leather. They would be an asset on the track, they look great and they’re not comfortable. Standard on the CS trim, you’ll want to weigh the seats as part of the equation before deciding if this is the sport sedan for you.

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