Christmas is coming a little early in 2022 as BMW unveils a six-rear-wheel-drive coupe with a manual gearbox
Behold the new BMW 3.0 CSL, a 552 horsepower shorthand for everything the M Division stands for. Indeed, it’s also a distillation of perhaps every fiber that makes up BMW’s core DNA. Visiting aliens eager to find out how one of the world’s greatest automakers became so popular need only look at the fundamental elements that make up this lavishly modified M4.
There’s a big straight-six engine up front. It is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, transmitting power to the rear wheels only. It is lighter than the production car on which it is based and is inspired by motorsport.
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And so, as the final part of BMW M’s 50th anniversary celebrations, we get perhaps the most evocative offering yet. the original 3.0 CSL has transcended beyond just a “wonder car” into something ethereal, and you have to admire the ambition of a company keen to provide a new generation with the same thrills, albeit updated.
Of which there should be many. Just like its father did, this new 3.0 CSL packs the most powerful iteration of that 3.0-litre straight-six engine – where the ‘regular’ M3 and M4 get 503bhp even at full competition spec. , this 3.0 CSL gets 552 hp. Not only more powerful, but the more powerful six-cylinder engine never fitted to a road-going BMW M.
It has its roots in today’s DTM-winning BMW engine. There’s a stiff crankcase, lightweight forged crankshaft and 3D-printed cylinder head core, while the cooling system and oil feed are high-performance setups “designed for extremely dynamic driving situations”. There’s 406 lb-ft of torque, and M says it’ll rev to 7,200 rpm.
The engine finds a companion in a six-speed manual gearbox “whose split and transmission ratios are perfectly matched to performance characteristics”, with a gear knob that nods to BMW’s M shifters. 70s origin. A touch of modern convenience comes in the form of a ‘gear shift assistant’ – an aid when downshifting when braking on bends.
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An active M differential sends power to the rear – up to 100% lock-up if needed – and works in tandem with the stability control. Obviously tons of work has gone into the chassis, but on the surface it’s based on a double-link front axle and five-link rear with adaptive damping, wider tracks, electric power steering (with a variable ratio) and a massive M carbon ceramic. brakes hidden under 20-inch/21-inch alloys front and rear. Heck, the traction control has ten stages of intervention, down to Very Off.
Should make it come alive, then, especially when great care has been taken to reduce weight all around that delectable, broad silhouette that pays its ‘Batmobile’ taxes and more. BMW is proud of its history with carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and the new 3.0 CSL is said to feature CFRP on “virtually every body section”. The roof, bonnet, trunk lid, front and rear aprons and side panel fixings. The sills, the rear diffuser, the wing and the spoiler. All handmade exclusively for this car.
There’s a lightweight titanium exhaust rear housing, aluminum struts in the engine bay, and a heavy rollout of carbon in the cockpit (strictly two-seater). Full M Carbon bucket seats sit in front of a pair of integrated helmet compartments where the rear bench seat once sat. Yes, it is one of those cars.
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And because it’s one of those cars, it gets some very special treatment. The development took 200 hours optimizing only the airflow. The cars will take three months to complete. Indeed, each requires 30 specially trained M technicians to build, going through eight assembly and production cycles of up to 10 days each. They will also come from the same factory that builds the 7-Series and Rolls-Royce components.
No word on pricing yet but expect “very”. Because only 50 will be built, for “particularly loyal and enthusiastic fans of the BMW M brand”. And of course, for anyone who needs a 552 hp shortcut for everything the M division stands for.