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New BMW 3.0 CSL

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New limited-run 3.0 CSL is the most powerful six-cylinder roadgoing BMW ever.

BMW's "M" performance division has unveiled the 3.0 CSL, the most powerful six-cylinder BMW ever made and a tribute to its legendary namesake from the 1970s.

Based on the current BMW M4, the 3.0 CSL is being billed as the "most exclusive special model the company [BMW M] has ever produced", with just 50 examples set to be built, each one a homage to the old 3.0 CSL racing and road car. The model was revealed as part of the M division's 50th-anniversary celebrations.

The original CSL was a phenomenally successful racing car in its day, winning the first European Touring Car Championship in 1973, followed by five more wins from 1975 to 1979 with drivers aboard, including Hans-Joachim Stuck and Niki Lauda. The roadgoing model was also well-regarded, its aero package including a large rear wing earning it its "Batmobile" nickname and, thanks to extensive use of aluminium panels, at 1,270kg, it was a featherweight too.

Lightweight body

The design cues drawn from the old CSL are immediately apparent when looking at the new one, the most obvious being that big rear wing, enclosed on the sides, aimed at keeping as much downforce as possible over the rear axle. The wheel arches are heavily flared, too, housing centre-locked forged light alloy wheels in a gold colour (20-inch at the front, 21-inch at the rear) shod in specially-developed Michelin tyres. The grille has also seen work and is less toothy than the standard M4.

The original CSL used aluminium for many of its panels, but the new one uses carbon fibre. The roof, bonnet, boot lid, front and rear aprons, side sills, rear diffuser and spoiler, are all made from the lightweight material, giving the CSL a healthy power-to-weight ratio of 2.9kg/hp. That use of carbon isn't entirely obvious from afar, though, with the weave only being visible on the rear wing and the lettering on the roof. The new CSL is finished in Alpine White and bedecked in the M division's red, blue and purple stripe livery.

Hardcore interior

The 3.0 CSL's creators also went on a lightening spree inside, removing the rear seats to replace them with a storage shelf (ideal for stowing helmets on track days, the company said) and festooning the interior with carbon fibre trim and Alcantara and making use of BMW's full carbon bucket seats. Engraved into the carbon-fibre trim is the sequential number of each example of the CSL. The most noteworthy feature of the interior lies directly in the middle, though - a manual gearstick.

Old-school meets ultra-modern

For all its sophistication, the 3.0 CSL takes a distinctly old-school approach, utilising a six-speed manual gearbox and sending all the power from the straight-six engine to the rear wheels. And there's a lot of power, too - 560hp and 550Nm of torque - making this the most powerful six-cylinder BMW road car yet. Recognising that the 3.0 CSL likely won't be exclusively used for pootling to the shops, like other recent M cars, the engine features beefed-up cooling and oil supply systems to enable it to be used to its full potential on the track.

That power being sent to the rear isn't unmitigated; the Active M differential allows torque to the wheels to be regulated and dispensed based on the conditions and driver's preferences. The suspension and its electronically-controlled dampers are equally adjustable. Even the feel of the carbon-ceramic brakes (with six-piston callipers up front) can be tweaked with two different feel curves, the adjustment accessed through the interior infotainment screen.

Short supply

With just 50 numbered cars to be built, don't expect to see one at your local BMW dealer soon. Don't expect it to be a bargain, either. While BMW hasn't announced pricing for the 3.0 CSL yet, it has said that each example takes around three months of work to build. That level of craftsmanship doesn't come cheap.

Published on November 24, 2022
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