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New BMW 3.0 CSL gets 552bhp straight-six power and manual gearbox

The new BMW 3.0 CSL gets bespoke bodywork and the most powerful six-cylinder engine ever fitted in a road-going BMW

BMW’s M division has been celebrating its 50th birthday in 2022. And while we’ve already seen one of its presents to itself in the form of the new plug-in hybrid, 740bhp XM SUV, perhaps the famous performance wing has saved its best until last, with this; the new BMW 3.0 CSL. 

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Marking M’s 50th anniversary, only 50 of the new 3.0 CSLs will be produced, making it a far rarer beast than the original homologation special. BMW claims that it ‘conveys’ the ethos of the original in the present day, not just in terms of the design, but also when it comes to the engineering. To that end, it features the most powerful six-cylinder engine BMW has ever fitted to a road-going car.

Perhaps the emergence of the 3.0 CSL shouldn’t be too surprising, given BMW revealed it was toying with the idea back in 2015. That year, the marque revealed the 3.0 CSL Hommage at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este show in Italy, and there are clear visual similarities between the concept of seven years ago and the production 3.0 CSL of today. But BMW has made no indication of the two being linked, and the new car is billed as an ‘independent’ M model. 

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The design is contemporary BMW, but with one or two twists alluding to the car of the 1970s and distancing the 3.0 CSL from BMW’s other new ‘Coupe, Sport, Lightweight’ brandished model, the M4 CSL. The front end, with its more distinctive kidney grille arrangement, is combined with a lower apron with two circular intakes, similar to the punch-hole like ones fitted on the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile.’ The yellow running signature of the LED headlights is a tribute to the lighting of the M4 GT3 currently competing in DTM, to give the CSL a bit of additional contemporary motorsport linkage. 

Elsewhere, the glasshouse with its distinct Hofmeister Kink shape at the rear pillar takes in a similar shape to the original 3.0 CSL, while it gets broader, more squared-off shoulders, a small roof spoiler and a large fixed rear wing, plus bespoke tail-lights. New 3.0 CSL specific touches include the centre-locking wheels, 20-inches at the front and 21 inches at the rear, wearing Michelin tyres developed specifically for the car. 

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True to the CSL’s brief for lightness, BMW says that nearly every piece of bodywork is made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic or carbon-fibre, every component made by hand. The roof spoiler is fibreglass-reinforced plastic, while the unique exhaust system is made of titanium. It’s all finished in a distinctive BMW Motorsport livery. 

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Beneath the bespoke surface, M has gone to some lengths to try and distance this car from the M4 CSL. It uses the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six, but power increases to 552bhp and 550Nm to make this the most powerful road-going six-cylinder BMW ever. And to please the purists, that power goes exclusively to the rear axle via a carefully calibrated six-speed manual gearbox and an Active M rear differential. 

BMW has yet to reveal any precise performance figures, but with a power-to-weight ratio of 2.9kg per PS, we can work out the kerb weight. At 1,624kg, it manages to trim an additional 1kg from the M4 CSL’s standard mass, itself 100kg down on the regular M4 Competition

BMW says that on the chassis side of things, the 3.0 CSL features a ‘harmonisation’ of all of M’s know-how. It uses a double-joint spring strut for the front axle, while the rear suspension makes use of a five-link axle. It’s combined with Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers.

The brakes have been given specific attention too. The 3.0 CSL is equipped with carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, with six-piston calipers and discs measuring 400mm on the front, and single-piston calipers clamping down on 380mm discs on the rear axle.  The chassis hardware combines with M Traction Control featuring ten-stages of configuration, for precise fine-tuning of how much slip the driver desires. 

The cabin leverages the standard dashboard architecture of the M4, but throws in several unique touches. The gear-lever with its white-topped shifter stands out alongside carbon-fibre bucket seats upholstered in black Alcantara. Each vehicle wears its number in the CSL’s production run on the dashboard. 

BMW has not yet revealed how many 3.0 CSLs will be produced in right-hand-drive for the UK market, nor has it confirmed a price. But it should command a cost significantly greater than the £128,820 of the M4 CSL when it arrives, and beyond the £200,000 mark. 

Click here for our first review of the hardcore and lightweight BMW M4 CSL...

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