1. It’s BMW M division’s 50th birthday present to itself
BMW’s legendary motorsport division, M, is 50 years old this year. Given its first project was the iconic 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’, a race-fettled version of the gorgeous E9 coupe that steamrollered rivals in Touring Car racing, there’s a pleasing symmetry to M’s revival of the CSL badge in 2022.
The new M4 CSL is based on the M4 Competition but, just as the Batmobile took the standard 3.0 CSL coupe and turned everything up to 11, so the M4 CSL is a wild, track-focused reworking of the base car. It’s BMW’s GT3, if you like.
2. Performance – and price – have been dialled way up
How do you feel about a £128,820 BMW?
A six-figure list price isn’t natural BMW territory, and some of its big-ticket cars have a reputation for stonking depreciation. But the M4 CSL isn’t likely to be one of them. For a start, production is limited to 1000 units globally, with just 100 earmarked for the UK. Also counting in the new CSL’s favour is the fact that BMW’s previous CSLs, the E46 M3 CSL and the Batmobile, are both now bone fide classics with the rock-solid values to match.
And the CSL does enjoy a useful performance edge over any pesky standard M4 Competition you may meet at the traffic lights. The M4’s twin-turbo straight-six has been tickled from 503bhp to 543bhp for the CSL, dropping the 0-62mph time from 3.9sec to 3.7sec.
3. There’s a lot of carbonfibre
Lightweight – the ‘L’ in CSL – is a key aspect of making any car quicker around a racetrack, and the CSL is some 100kg lighter than the M4 Competition. A lot of the weight reduction has been achieved through ‘material substitution’, which roughly translates as ‘lashings of carbonfibre’.
In total the CSL’s bespoke carbon parts cut 24kg from the kerb weight. The M4 Competition already uses a composite roof, to help lower the centre of gravity as well as reduce weight generally. But the CSL goes further with a carbon bonnet, bootlid and front splitter. You also get deadly serious carbon-backed race seats (with optional harnesses instead of belts) and a carbon centre console.
Carbonfibre doesn’t come cheap, hence the eye-watering price. But it works, and all that weight loss certainly plays a part in the CSL’s impressive official Nürburgring lap time. With a 7:15.677 under its belt, this is BMW’s most potent road car to date – if some way short of the similarly priced Porsche 911 GT3, which is good for a 6:55.2.
4. There’s go-faster race engineering everywhere you look
To help it nail its brief, the CSL borrows much from race car engineering, specifically its M4 GT3 sister car. It ditches the M4 Competition’s rear seats and belts to save weight and gets lightweight, fade-free carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, not to mention lightweight CSL-exclusive forged wheels. The chassis has also been overhauled with an 8mm suspension drop, helper springs for increased grip, stiffer anti-roll bars and slack-free, track-ready suspension to increase the sense of connection between car and driver.
The M4’s already excellent multi-stage M Traction Control system has also been updated for the CSL. Stages 1 to 5 are the same but 6-10 have been optimised for track driving.
5. We can’t wait to drive it
Wearing the CSL badge brings huge pressure. The new M4 CSL looks ready to follow in the footsteps of its illustrious predecessors, but the proof will be in the driving. A true CSL? We’ll let you know just as soon as we get behind the wheel.