BMW’s M division is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The highlight of M’s golden jubilee celebrations is the revival of the “CSL” badge, with the unveiling of the fastest M Car ever – the M4 CSL. This special edition, limited to just 1,000 units, is derived from the competition-spec M4 GT3, and is 100 kilograms lighter than the standard M4.
In the world of M enthusiasts, nothing carries as much prestige as the CSL badge – the acronym for Competition, Sport, Lightweight. It’s a badge that’s only been used twice before. Originally on the 1972 E9 3.0-litre CSL – the most sought after M car ever. Known affectionately as the “Batmobile,” it earned its legendary status after winning the European Touring Car Championship on the first attempt in 1973. The second car to bear the CSL badge was the highly popular and highly acclaimed 2003 E46 M3 CSL road car, the first to have a carbon-fibre roof.
In recent years, BMW has preferred the GTS badge for the quickest M3 and M4 versions. While the GTS models are primarily stripped-down track cars, featuring the requisite roll-cage, the new CSL was conceived as a high-performance road car which would also be capable of delivering on the track. It blends old-school racing ethos with innovative technology – featuring a powerful engine, lightweight design, two-seater configuration, model-specific chassis upgrades and equipment.
BMW seem to have got the formula just right. In test runs on the Nürburgring, the M4 CSL clocked in at seven-minutes and 15.7-seconds. That is the fastest lap time ever for a series-produced BMW car, and over 13 seconds faster than the previous M4 GTS or the current M5 CS. It boasts acceleration figures of 3.7-seconds from 0 to 100 kmph and 10.7 seconds for the sprint from 0 to 200 kmph.
The model-specific power unit of the M4 CSL is based on the same high-revving, six-cylinder in-line engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology found in the M4 GT3 racing car. Its substantial performance reserves enabled a significant hike in power without having to make any concessions in terms of stability or durability. The drive torque produced by the engine is relayed to the rear wheels via an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic.
Like the engine, the M4 CSL’s chassis technology benefits from a wealth of detail upgrades – which have been tailored to the power unit’s performance characteristics. These modifications also factor in the substantial reduction in vehicle weight and the model-specific improvements to body rigidity.
Model-specific equipment features give the M4 CSL a distinctive balance between sports car purism, unrestricted everyday usability and premium quality. These include M Alcantara steering wheel, anthracite-coloured headliner, Carbon Fibre interior trim strips, “CSL” badges on the seats, centre console and rear panel, plus M-specific displays. Two helmet storage units can be found in the rear compartment, replacing the rear seat of the standard M4.
The body of the M4 CSL is painted in the exclusive Frozen Brooklyn Grey metallic as standard. This exterior shade teams up with exposed carbon-fibre surfaces and red accents to create a visually expressive appearance of sporting purity. The carbon-fibre structure of the body components is visible in various areas, including the two chiselled indents in the bonnet.
The optionally available BMW Laserlight headlights bring another head-turning accent to the front end of the new M4 CSL. Recalling the look of successful GT racing cars of yesteryears, these headlights illuminate in yellow rather than white, both in the welcome effect triggered when unlocking the doors and when the low and high beams are switched on. The LED rear lights are equipped as standard with technology making its debut in a series-produced car.