Now that BMW decided to launch more M cars with the CS lettering on the boot, some younger fans of the brand might think this is a new thing. However, as history shows, BMW has been making CS versions of their otherwise standard M cars for quite some time. One epic example is the BMW E46 M3 CS model that had the misfortune of being launched under the tall shadow of the iconic BMW E46 M3 CSL model.

In the video below we get to see exactly how the two stack up against each other, at least on the drag strip. But what made them so different and what did that extra ‘L’ bring to the table?

The BMW E46 M3 CSL was built with low weight in mind, engineers working overtime to make sure they can build it as light as possible. In that regard, a number of measures were taken, from a CFRP roof  to a variety of other lightweight materials being used throughout its body. On the performance side of things, the horsepower readings were upgraded ever so slightly while the SMG transmission was enhanced with a special software that made it even more track-focused than in the standard model.


The BMW E46 M3 CS on the other hand was the equivalent of today’s Competition Package models. As a matter of fact, depending on the market the car was sold on, it was either advertised as the M3 CS or the M3 Competition Package. In technical terms, the CS adds 19″ wheels and tires, noticeably bigger brakes, a faster steering ratio (14.5:1), and a host of software changes that make the electronic nannies step in a lot later, allowing you to have more fun.

According to reviews from back in the day, the CS was quite a blast to drive and a noticeable improvement over the standard M3, mostly due to its added grip that seemed to make quite a difference in lap times. However, when compared to the big bad CSL wolf, the end result was something along the lines of what’s posted in the video below.