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BMW 3.0 CSL is a lightweight and very rare homage to an icon. Image by BMW.

BMW 3.0 CSL is a lightweight and very rare homage to an icon
BMW’s M division continues its 50th birthday celebrations with the launch of the most powerful roadgoing six-cylinder BMW ever.
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What's all this about?

BMW’s M division is continuing its year-long celebration of its own 50th birthday with the unveiling of the 3.0 CSL, a car which it describes as “the most exclusive special model the company has ever produced”. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the latest model from BMW M is an homage to the 3.0 CSL of the 1970s, the fabled “Batmobile” which proved a hit on road and track alike with light aluminium panels and flamboyant aero package.

Looks a bit like an M4 to me...

It is indeed based on BMW’s current M4, but there are plenty of design cues setting it apart. The grille — though still rather enlarged — has been toned down somewhat. The yellow headlights are a nod to the recent M4 GT3 car which won the 2022 DTM touring car championship in Germany using broadly the same engine as the CSL. The wheel arches are flared and contain centre-locking gold-coloured alloy wheels. There’s the M livery too, with each example of the 3.0 CSL finished in Alpine White with characteristic red, blue and purple stripes. It’s at the back, though, that the most obvious tribute to the old CSL is found, with a large rear wing, enclosed on both sides with the intention of keeping the highest level of downforce possible over the rear axle.

Why, specifically?

See, that’s coming to the crux of the matter. This isn’t just a visual pastiche of the old CSL, it’s rather old-school in its approach too. Like the old CSL, it uses a six-cylinder engine with the power being sent to the rear wheels alone through a manual gearbox (six-speed in the new one’s case). It does differ in a few areas, though maintaining some of the classic CSL’s spirit. Rather than using aluminium for its panels, the new CSL makes extensive use of carbon-fibre. The roof, bonnet, boot lid, front and rear aprons, side sills, prominent rear diffuser, rear wing and spoilers are all hewn from the lightweight material. The twin-turbo six-cylinder engine is quite a bit more powerful too — this is the most powerful road-legal six-cylinder BMW ever seen, in fact — with 560hp and 550Nm of torque on tap. That engine is built to much the same specification as the one found in the BMW M4 CSL unveiled earlier this year with beefed-up cooling and oil supply systems to cope with heavy track use.

What's it like inside?

Well it’s not a car for taking the family to Ikea, that’s for sure. There are no back seats for starters; instead, there’s a shelf for stowing your helmet at a track day with carbon bucket seats up front, all in the name of saving weight. So too is there carbon-fibre trim and liberal use of Alcantara, with badging inside indicating exactly where in the limited run of 50 cars that particular one was built. Those who do want to take their 3.0 CSL on a track day will likely be spending quite a bit of time delving through the menus accessed by the central infotainment touchscreen because, old-fashioned though the CSL is in its thinking, there’s plenty of bang-up-to-date adjustable features as well.

Such as...?

Such as the active differential with which the driver can either choose how the traction is doled out to each of the rear wheels or leave the car’s computer systems to decide based on the conditions. With its electronically-controlled dampers, the suspension system is adjustable too, as is the pedal feel of the carbon-ceramic brakes.

Any word on pricing?

BMW hasn’t mentioned pricing yet, but considering that it only intends to build 50 examples and that each one, mostly thanks to the swathes of specialist carbon-fibre, takes three months to build, expect a something of a premium (putting it mildly) over the £128,225 of the M4 CSL in the highly unlikely event you can get your hands on one.

David Mullen - 25 Nov 2022

2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.

2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.2023 BMW 3.0 CSL. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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