The BMW 3.0 CSL Has Been Reborn

As the celebrations of M Sport’s 50th Anniversary continue, BMW has unveiled another new gift to itself. Yep, the BMW 3.0 CSL is back from the dead.

Well… we didn’t see this one coming!

As you may have noticed, BMW has spent this year unveiling a few new sporty special editions, each designed to celebrate fifty years of its iconic M Sport performance brand. First, there was the highly controversial XM SUV, then, there was the marginally less controversial M4 CSL. And now, as the year draws to its close, there’s this: a third and (presumably) final marker of the occasion – the rebirth of the BMW 3.0 CSL.

Now, before we get into the geeky specs of it all, let’s add some context into the mix. If you aren’t familiar with the significance of the 3.0 CSL nameplate, that was the title given to M Sport’s first ever creation. Ultimately a race car, the BMW 3.0 CSL was also produced in limited numbers as a roadgoing homologation special; its extravagant aero earning it the ‘Batmobile’ nickname. So, as you’re probably gathering, it’s a bit of a legend amongst Bavarian circles. In hindsight then, maybe we should’ve seen its rebirth coming after all…

Anyway, the first thing you might be thinking upon looking at this car is, ‘surely it’s just a concept?’

Well, nope. It’s not. This polarising reimagination of the M4’s silhouette is heading for production, albeit only 50 will actually leave the factory floor. Like many recent BMW designs, you could probably accuse the 3.0 CSL of being a bit heavy-handed, but then, the 1972 original was hardly subtle either. Regardless of how you feel about the end product, it’s clear that a lot of thought has at least gone into making it.

Wildly different to the regular M4, upon which this 3.0 CSL is based, there’s plenty of visual talking points to cover. First, there’s the exceedingly dramatic wheel arch extensions, which appear well-blended into the car’s contours from some angles but not from others. Then, there’s the famous Hofmeister kink window line, accompanied by plating where the rest of the regular M4’s window would normally be. At the back, the nods to the past continue with not one, but two, rear wings – just like the original had. Plus, while the regular modern M cars’ big kidney grilles have been a point of ire for many people, the one featured on this 3.0 CSL is rather stubbier than that of the M4.

A shot of the car driving on an airfield.

So, it’s certainly eye-catching, but don’t go thinking that this is merely a reskinned version of one of BMW’s existing coupes. Although it shares its core DNA with the M4, a large number of modifications have been made behind the scenes – as well as on the outside.

Under the bonnet, BMW’s 3.0-litre S58 straight-six now produces 552bhp – 10bhp more than it does in the M4 CSL, and a near-50bhp increase over the version fitted to regular M4 Competitions. Torque, meanwhile, is capped at 405 lb ft in order not to shatter the car’s six-speed manual gearbox.

Carbon ceramic brakes are what you’ll find at either end of the vehicle, stowed away behind staggered 20 & 21-inch rims. Meanwhile, Michelin are the company that BMW has turned to for tyres; the 3.0 CSL coming equipped with a set of Pilot Sport 4Ss.

The car's interior features a traditional manual gear stick.

A fair amount of weight saving has taken place too, as you’d expect of any car given the CSL badge. However, while BMW hasn’t provided an official kerb weight yet, they do say that the car has a 2.9hp/kg power-to-weight ratio. So, if you do the maths, it looks as though the BMW 3.0 CSL will tip the scales just beyond the 1600kg-mark; about 100kg or so less than a regular M4. Not bad!

Each of the 50 examples will be built and painted by hand – yes, the production cars all get that livery too – so while an official price is yet to be confirmed, it’s likely to be within reach of only the wealthiest collectors.

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