Most of, if not all of, the cars BMW has made since 2006 can be considered good cars — they get the job done and meet the purpose they were built for, which is to provide transportation. But the last great BMW? That’d be the one pictured above; the 2006 M3 CS — peak BMW.
The 2006 M3 CS (Competition Package, in the U.S) was the absolute best BMW had to offer when trying to define ‘the Ultimate Driving Machine.’ There was nothing extra on the car to numb the thrill of carving through a turn, nailing an apex, shifting the gears yourself or eliciting feedback from the wheels. And, at the same time, it wasn’t an over-the-top, stiffer-than-hell track focused car you dreaded spending more than 10 minutes in like the more hardcore CSL. The M3 CS cherry-picked the best parts from the CSL and the standard M3 to give the driver rewarding performance without being torturous.
On the CSL, air conditioning, the radio and navigation were no-cost optional extras and sound deadening foam was deleted, all in the name of saving weight. So if you got lost on a hot day, you’d start to question a few life decisions – and then the rock-hard track-tuned suspension and fixed bucket seats would shatter your lower back. The CS, on the other hand, came with all of those basic luxuries, plus adjustable heated leather seats and a softer, more liveable suspension. What the CS did take from the CSL was its steering rack, M-Track Mode traction control and larger, better brakes at the front and rear. It had everything you needed and/or wanted and nothing you didn’t.
2006 was also the last year before BMW overhauled its design language and went down a swoopy and character-line-laden path. Pre-2007, the 3-Series style was clean, uncluttered and focused. It didn’t try to look sporty, because it didn’t have to – the driving experience spoke for itself in volumes.
Right now, this M3 CS is sitting at $15,000, but considering it’s the last example of an era almost unrecognizable to BMW today, don’t expect the price to stay that low for too long.