Car Magazine feels adventurous this week and gives us an interesting comparison, this time, between three BMW vehicles that have and will keep their place in the history of the brand. The latest and greatest M3 GTS is being measured against the M3 Sport Evo and everyone’s favorite, M3 CSL.
“The BMW M3 GTS is a car of superlatives. It is the fastest, most powerful, most track-focussed, most expensive M3 ever, a two-fingered salute to the critics who said the M Division had lost its way after SUV-gate.
Okay, but how does it compare with previous über-M3s, and how does it move the game on versus the most focussed new M3 that doesn’t wear the GTS badge – the Competition Pack?
Now, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of arguments about this, but for me the GTS’s key in-house benchmarks from previous generations are the E30 Sport Evo and the E46 M3 CSL. No E36s? No. We could have included the E36 M3 Lightweight, but that was North American-only, and therefore featured the lower-power US engine – we’d sooner have a Euro engine. We could have dropped in the E36 M3 R, but these were Aussie-only and essentially built for a race series. Dismissed. Perhaps we could have chosen the left-hand drive E36 M3 GT. Mmm, not quite hardcore enough in this company, but a great car nonetheless. Ah, the perils of an M3 greatest hits – feel free to grumble in the comments section below!
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Much as I absolutely adored driving the GTS, I left the launch feeling that – engine aside – the car’s concept was less convincing than the CSL, that M’s approach had far more in common with a very serious trackday DIY project than a motorsport powerhouse. It feels like a quick riposte to the naysayers, rather than something that was part of the M3 product plan from the beginning. What would you do if you wanted a hardcore new M3 track toy? You’d buy an early car for £30k, strip it, add a cage, drop in some Recaros, fit six-pot brakes, stiffen the suspension, maybe tack on a rear spoiler. You’d struggle to spend £50k in total. Yet that, essentially, is what we’ve got here.
The M3 GTS is a great car – that is absolutely beyond question – but it’s also one that struggles to justify its extremely high price tag.”