- BMW has brought back the 3.0 CSL name on a new limited-edition sports car that echoes the design of the original Seventies-era 3.0 CSL and sports a motorsports-inspired livery.
- The twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine makes 553 horsepower; it’s the most powerful inline-six used in a road-legal BMW M car ever.
- That motor is mated to a six-speed manual, and power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels. Only 50 units will be built.
Back in 2015, BMW hinted at a revival of one of its most iconic sports cars ever with the 3.0 CSL Homage R concept. It was a muscular modern interpretation of the 3.0 CSL homologation special built in small quantities in the 1970s, which earned the nickname “Batmobile” thanks to the race car’s dramatic aerodynamic package. Now, seven years later, BMW has finally made that concept a reality, reviving the 3.0 CSL nameplate for a new limited-edition sports car that attempts to distill the core values of the M division and its illustrious motorsports history into one vehicle.
While the cabin shape and overall proportions suggest that the 3.0 CSL shares its bones with the current-generation M4, the 3.0 CSL’s bodywork is unique and one of the most eye-pleasing designs BMW has produced of late. We certainly wouldn’t call the grille small, but it’s not monstrous like the unit on the M4, new i7or XM super SUV, and its satin aluminum trim flows neatly into the angular headlights. The bulging fenders and double rear wing setup clearly recall the original 3.0 CSL “Batmobile,” as do the two circular air intakes carved into the front bumper and the small fins protruding from the hood.
The headlights feature yellow LED laser lights—drawing a connection to the M4 GT3 race car—and the intricate, wiry taillight LEDs are reminiscent of those on the M4 CSL. The brawny wheel arches house gold-colored center-locking wheels measuring 20 inches up front and 21 inches at the rear, wrapped in specially developed Michelin tires. The special-edition sports car also stands out thanks to its motorsport-inspired livery, with the white paint accented by stripes in the traditional BMW M colors just like the livery on the 1970s racer. Almost all of the bodywork is fashioned from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), with the weave visible in the lower trim elements, the rear wing, and the lettering on the roof, and most of the carbon components are manufactured by hand.
The same twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six found in the M3 and M4 lies at the heart of the 3.0 CSL, but it has been tuned to make it the most powerful inline-six ever used in a road-legal BMW M car, spitting out 553 horsepower, a 50-pony increase over the M4 Competition . Torque output remains at 406 pound-feet, the same as the non-Competition-spec M4, and all of this shove is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The 3.0-liter makes use of technical know-how from BMW’s DTM racing program, with a rigid crankcase, forged lightweight crankshaft, and a 3D-printed cylinder head core, as well as a specially designed oil supply and cooling system.
The help manage all of that power, an active M differential on the rear axle works with the stability control to maintain traction and prevent drivers from putting their limited-edition sports car into a wall. The front suspension uses a double-joint spring strut setup while the rear suspension is a multi-link design, paired with adaptive dampers and variable-ratio electric power steering. Carbon-ceramic brakes are used to slow the 3.0 CSL, with six-piston fixed-caliper stoppers up front and single-piston fixed-caliper brakes at the rear. The calipers are painted red, and the traction control system has 10 selectable levels of intervention, helping to customize the driving experience.
The cabin ditches the rear seats for a storage compartment that can fit two helmets, and carbon fiber has infiltrated the cockpit, with CFRP on the door panels and the two bucket seats making extensive use of the lightweight material. The dashboard design is largely similar to the M4’s, and black Alcantara covers the seats, steering wheel, and parts of the dashboard. White contrast stitching compliments the unique gearshift knob, which has a retro design with the number 50 engraved into it to remind you just how exclusive the 3.0 CSL is.
That number references the fact that BMW will only build 50 units of the 3.0 CSL, with the entire production run lasting just three months at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Moosthenning, Germany. There’s no word yet on price, but given the limited production run, we expect it to cost significantly more than the M4 Competition coupe’s $79,595 starting price, and likely even higher than the M4 CSL’s $140,895 cost. Prospective buyers will also need to act fast—with so few units available, it probably won’t be long before they are all snapped up.
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