The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine

With amazing driving dynamics, character and talent spilling out of its every crease and one of the finest six-pot engines ever made, the E46 M3 CS is the bargain that, well, isn't

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BMW - The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine - Used Cars

We wouldn’t blame you if your appetite was somewhat whetted after reading about the new BMW M3 CS yesterday. It looks like a mighty piece of kit.

However, if you want something with the fabled CS tag that won’t cost the £86,000+ of the new one, your only option is to look back at the wonderful, eternally brilliant E46-era M3 CS.

BMW - The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine - Used Cars

The CS, or Clubsport, was a follow-on from the legendary CSL, taking a few of that car’s parts and combining them with the ordinary M3 to create a much cheaper halfway house without ruining the scarcity factor of the CSL.

Rumour has it that only 241 of them were sold in the UK, making it pretty rare in its own right. It got bigger brakes, quicker steering, revised suspension and CSL-alike 19-inch wheels, which weren’t as light as the CSL’s trick forged items but still look awesome.

BMW - The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine - Used Cars

Under the bonnet of possibly the prettiest M3 ever made is a 3.2-litre, 338bhp straight-six that howls like all the demons of hell have been unleashed from your exhaust. Peak power sits at 7900rpm, and believe us, you’ll want to go there as often as possible. Find yourself an aftermarket induction kit and it gets even better.

It’s not that fast by modern standards. The new M3 CS hits 62mph in just 3.7 seconds, while the E46 CS could only manage it in 5.2, and it was limited to 155mph; 19mph slower than the new one’s limiter threshold.

BMW - The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine - Used Cars

Our pick is a manual version, but SMG was a £2100 option. It’s covered a significant 92,000 miles with a service history from BMW main dealers and specialists. It has been in for a precautionary recall recently over a rear subframe issue but didn’t have the problem in question.

We love the Interlagos Blue paint, which was by far the most common colour for the CS. We secretly lust over the one single Imola Red E46 M3 CS that was made for the UK with a manual gearbox, but you can’t have everything. The only other red one has the SMG gearbox. Just one each were built in Estoril Blue, Alpine White and Gold Metallic by special order, but they, too, were SMG cars.

BMW - The E46 BMW M3 CS Is The Cheap-But-Not-Cheap Way To Buy A Famous Badge And A Screaming Engine - Used Cars

The price is not low. Its limited edition status overrides the mileage, it seems, and it looks to be in great condition. The asking price is £19,940. While there are other options dropping down as far as £17,495, with any such rare, high-performance car we’d always be reluctant to buy the cheapest one on the market.