E46 M3

The E46 M3, first introduced in October 2000, appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 L S54 M-tuned engine. It was only available in coupe and convertible bodies as the saloon version had been dropped.

The E46 M3 was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, but optionally came with a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II). This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch (no clutch pedal). Shifts are made via the SMG gear knob or the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The engine had a redline of 8,000 rpm. As with most M engines, the S54 again had 6 independent throttle bodies and this time electronically operated throttles (drive-by-wire throttle with no cable).

In the U.S., the E46 M3 came with similar engine output as the European version, unlike in the E36, whose engine was derived from the M50/52 series engine. Power was now at 333 bhp (248 kW; 338 PS) due to close-coupled catalytic converters closer to the engine exhaust ports. In 2009, Road and Track magazine announced the 2006 M3 with the SMG transmission as its favorite sports car of all time.

E46 performance

The M3's S54 naturally aspirated engine produces 343 PS (252 kW; 338 hp) / 3.2-litre.

EU Models

    343 PS (252 kW; 338 hp) @ 7900 rpm
    Torque: 365 N·m (269 lb·ft) @ 4900 rpm
    0-100 km/h (62 mph) — 5.1 s for manual and SMG, 5.5 s for cabriolet
    Top Speed: 155 mph (250 km/h)(electronically limited)
    Skid Pad: 0.89 g

United States Models

    333 hp (248 kW; 338 PS)
    Torque: 262 lb·ft (355 N·m)
    0-60 mph (97 km/h) — 4.8 s for manual and SMG, 5.6 s for cabriolet
        0–60 mph — 5.1 s for cabriolet as measured by Car and Driver magazine
    1/4 mile – Coupé: 13.0 s @ 104 mph (167 km/h), Convertible: 13.7 s @ 104 mph (167 km/h)
    Top speed – Coupé: 155 mph (250 km/h) (electronically limited), 170 mph (270 km/h) (delimited)
    Skid pad – Coupé: 0.89 g, Convertible: 0.81 g

E46 special models

There were four models of E46 M3s produced: Model M3 (Sport, Winter, Competition), the M3 CSL, the M3 GTR V8 (limited production) and the M3 ZCP, (in the US and mainland Europe), which is known as the M3 CS (Coupe Sport) in the UK.


An E46 GTR came to life in February 2001, powered by the P60B40 a 3,997 cc V8 producing 493 hp (368 kW; 500 PS). Unlike the straight-six powered M3 versions, which were outpaced by the Porsche 996 GT3, the racing version of the E46 M3 GTR 16 was very successful in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), entered by Schnitzer Motorsport.

Rivals such as Porsche pointed out that this car was more of a prototype as no V8 engine was available in the road-going BMW E46, which is in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo. In 2001, ALMS regulations stated that cars must be for sale on two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued. To fulfill this rule, BMW put 10 road going GTRs on sale after the 2001 season, for €250,000 each.

The ALMS rules were altered for 2002 to state that 100 cars and 1,000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. Although BMW could have raced the V8 with the new weight and power penalties under these new regulations, they chose to pull out of the ALMS, effectively ending the short-lived M3 GTR's career.

Two Schnitzer Motorsport GTR cars saw a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 1–2 in 2004 and 2005, as well as entries in the 24 Hours Spa. Onboard coverage recorded in 2004 Hans-Joachim Stuck, Pedro Lamy, Jörg Müller and Dirk Müller on the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.

Private teams (Scheid, Getrag, etc.) also have fit 3,997 cc BMW V8 engines into the E46 body to race on the Nürburgring, winning some VLN races in the last years.

The car is widely known to be portrayed as the main character's car with a distinctive blue and silver livery in Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Carbon. It also appeared in the series' later titles World (as a microtransaction option) and the 2012 Most Wanted (as downloadable content), as well the latter game's mobile version as a bonus prize for beating the final "Most Wanted" vehicle. The standard model M3 E46 also appears in the 2015 series reboot, in which it can be modified to appear as the Most Wanted M3 GTR (with said modified vehicle appearing on the game's Deluxe Edition cover). The vehicle also appears in Forza Horizon as downloadable content (in which it was also the free preview car for its month's car pack) and in a few SimBin racing games; GTR Evolution, Race Pro, and Race On.


The BMW M3 CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau) (Coupe Sport Lightweight) was a limited edition version of the M3, with only 1,400 cars being produced for its 2004 model year run. The CSL was never released into the North American market, and was only available in two colours – Silver Grey Metallic and Black Sapphire Metallic.

As its name suggests, an emphasis was put on reducing weight. The M3 CSL has a curb weight of 1,385 kg (3,053 lb), 110 kg (240 lb) lighter than the regular M3. The CSL features many weight saving technologies taken from BMW's Formula One racing applications. A large proportion of the M3's sound insulation has been removed, along with electric seats and navigation systems. Air conditioning and stereo systems could be retrofitted free of cost, but were not available standard. The CSL's unique body pieces are all crafted from carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Glass-reinforced plastics are used throughout structural points in the car. The standard rear window was replaced with one made from thinner glass. Although the CSL loses a considerable amount of curb weight from its original version, the focus was put on strategically reducing or moving the weight in the car rather than the raw amount of weight that could be lost. This is to retain the ideal 50:50 weight distribution characteristics the E46 has. For example, the roof is constructed from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. While this only reduces the curb weight of the car by 7 kg (15 lb), it lowers the center of gravity of the car and decreases body flex.

In order to improve the handling ability of the car, the entire suspension system was further refined. Specially developed racing springs and dampers are given to the CSL, and a tightened steering ratio (14.5:1 vs 15.4:1 on the regular M3) improves responsiveness. The braking system is also improved with larger front floating rotors and larger pistons in the rear calipers, front calipers are the same as the standard M3 but with a larger caliper carrier to allow for the larger rotor, rear discs are M3 standard.

The CSL is given a retuned dynamic stability control system with a "M track mode" setting that allows the car to be pushed to its absolute limits before being activated. Top speed was limited but on production of a current Motorsport licence, factory ordered cars could be requested with this restriction removed.

The engine used in the CSL had increased output over the regular S54 by 17 hp (13 kW) and 5 N·m (4 lbf·ft) over the European M3. This is due to the use of sharper profile camshafts, a bigger air intake with carbon fiber manifold, a refinement of the exhaust manifold, and slightly different exhaust valves.

The CSL also has various aesthetic modifications over the standard M3. It received an aerodynamic lightweight body kit which included carbon fiber front splitters that improved downforce at high speeds by 50%, as well as a carbon fiber rear diffuser. The front bumper has a distinct hole that is used to draw cool air into the newly designed air intake. The trunk floor is made of lightweight fiberboard (not cardboard as famously described by BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson). The trunk lid is redesigned to incorporate a raised lip, unlike the standard M3 where one is simply added onto a flat trunk. The CSL was sold with distinct 19-inch lightweight cast BBS alloy rims that came with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup semi-slick racing tyres. The interior of the CSL is redesigned with a sporty weight-saving theme. The CSL obtains fiberglass front racing bucket seats, and fiberglass backed rear seats. The center console, door panels and trim, and headliner are all formed from carbon fiber, and the steering wheel is redesigned with cruise control, stereo, and phone controls removed to include just a single button that activates the M track mode.

Unlike the standard M3, which was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, or optionally a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II), the CSL was offered only with the SMG II transmission. This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal, similar to a Formula One style transmission. However, the CSL received a more advanced drivelogic software package than the standard M3 that was capable of making shifts in 0.08 second. Also, this advanced CSL Software package can also be uploaded to the standard M3 SMG DME to get the CSL gear shift performance increase.

M3 CS (Competition Package)

While it is known as the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the US and mainland Europe, it is also known as the M3 CS (Coupe Sport) in the UK. (option S7MAA = Competition Paket).

While the M3 CSL was never exported to the United States, for 2005 BMW introduced an M3 Competition Package in both Europe and the US (a.k.a. CS/Coupe Sport in the UK): a $4,000 (£2,500) option which offered a number of upgrades taken from M3 CSL parts bin. The package includes:

    19-inch BBS spin-cast (flow formed) alloy wheels (marketed as "forged"); 19"x8" front, 19"x9.5" rear: weigh 26 lb (12 kg), the 8" front is exclusive to the ZCP/CS, the CSL has the 8.5" version, the rears are the same as the CSL.
    Specially tuned spring rates for the Competition Package; this was carried over to all M3 production from 12/04 on.
    CSL steering rack: More direct steering ratio of 14.5:1 (vs. standard M3's 15.4:1)
    CSL's M-Track Mode enabled with a button mounted on the steering wheel (deletion of cruise control and steering wheel mounted radio/phone controls)
    CSL's Larger front disc/rotor of 13.6 inches (from 12.6 inches) (345mm from 325mm) with Standard M3 calipers, but painted black and with larger caliper carriers.
    CSL's Larger piston in rear calipers and standard 12.9 inch (328mm) rear rotors, again with black painted calipers
    Alcantara steering wheel and hand brake covers.
    Interlagos Blue exterior paint available as an exclusive colour option.
    Unique cube aluminum interior trim. (optional).

While the CS shares some bolt on parts with the CSL, the engine and gearbox are the same as a non Competition Package M3 (so there is no power increases), as are all the main hardware modules, mk60 DSC, Engine and SMG DME (where fitted) etc, Also other than M-Track mode, csl brake and the steering angle sensor calibrations the CS shares all its software with that of the standard M3.


In the UK, the M3 CS is often referred to as a Club Sport (two words), however this is incorrect as it was only ever officially used in the UK by BMW (UK) as a designation of a special edition e46 330ci (coupe) and called a "clubsport" (one word no space) in all sales documentation for that specific model.



Production 2000–2006 85,744 built
Assembly Regensburg, Germany
Designer Ulf Weidhase (exterior: 1998) Martina Bachmann (interior: 1998)
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe 2-door convertible
Related BMW 3 Series
Engine 3.2 L I6
Transmission 6 Speed Manual 6 Speed SMG Drivelogic
Wheelbase 107.5 in (2,730 mm)
Length 2001–02: 176.8 in (4,491 mm) 2003–06: 176.9 in (4,493 mm)
Width 70.1 in (1,781 mm)
Height 2001-02 Coupe: 54.0 in (1,372 mm) 2001–02 Convertible: 53.7 in (1,364 mm) 2003–06 Coupe: 53.9 in (1,369 mm) 2003–06 Convertible: 53.9 in (1,369 mm)
Curb weight Coupe: 3,415 lb (1,549 kg)