BMW M3 CSL name plate is derived from the highly successful
lightweight racing coupes built by BMW Motorsport in the
1970s. CSL, roughly translated from German stands for Coupe,
The modern rendition of the BMW CSL, as applied to the successful
BMW M3, relies on a lot more technology than just lightweight
metal to distinguish itself from the M3, an already highly
accomplished sports coupe.
every area of the BMW M3 CSL has been re-engineered to provide an
exacting, responsive high performance drive. This includes the
use of lightweight alloy components and special bushings and
bearings in the suspension, re-calibrated spring and damper
rates, advanced electronic programs for the engine, gearbox
and traction aides, and painstaking attention to weight-saving
At first glance the CSL is not that different from a standard
M3. The most easily distinguishing feature is probably the use
of special 19-inch alloy wheels with a really exquisite spoke
And of course these wheels are shod by the latest Michelin
Sport Pilot tyres, ultra low-profile semi-slick tyres that are
Starting from the front of the car, the bumper area has a
deeper, wider air intake, as well as an additional air-intake,
that round hole on one side of the main intake. This provides
a straight through air passage to the deep-breathing engine
The front bumper is made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic,
or CFP, and includes the aerodynamic wings leading into the
front splitter, to manage airflow beneath the car. The bumper
and wing combo is claimed to reduce front lift at high speed
by as much as 50 per cent.
The bonnet is also of lightweight construction, being made in
aluminium, as it is on the standard M3.
On the front fenders you have that elegant side louvre, with
metal ribbing and the CSL badge. This is a nod to BMW's vast
motorsport history and is reminiscent of the classic 328
sports racers of the late 1930s.
Opening the driver's
door, the metal scuff plates
again bear the CSL legend, and there is an additional
manufacturer's plate confirming that this is a genuine example
of just 65 BMW M3 CSLs to be imported to South Africa
The roof of the car has in fact been created in carbon fibre
reinforced plastic, similar to the
lightweight material used for Formula One construction.
Very expensive to manufacture, carbon fibre is both much
lighter and stronger than steel.
The boot-lid too is made
of a very special compound called Sheet-Molding Compound,
which uses plastic as its base. The boot lid also incorporates
a distinctive, integrated wing which again visually identifies
the CSL from the standard M3.
The rear bumper is once again formed in CFP for weight
reduction and strength, and carbon fibre reinforced plastics
are used in the support stays for the bumpers.
The BMW Mototrsport staff
also went to great lengths to save weight in unusual
areas. For instance the luggage compartment lining is a made
out of a paper-sandwich material much lighter than
conventional board matting. And the rear seat backs are made
of lightweight fibreglass.
Inside the cockpit,
carbon fibre door panels again save weight and add a racer's
touch to the cabin.
Cosmetically, a special touch is the use of suede leather on
the steering wheel and the instrument shroud, making the
driver of a CSL feel he or she is in control of a rare
Weight reduction is what it is all about with the BMW CSL and
total weight loss amounts to about 110 kg. That may not sound
much, but weight saving has been made in vital areas giving an
ideal 50-50 weight distribution between front and rear.
Together with stiffer suspension, those wide tyres and revised
steering geometry the CSL has cat-like reactions.
Indeed, the CSL remains
one of a handful of production cars that has dipped
under the eight-second barrier at the famous Nurburgring long
circuit race track, which is 22 kilometres long and features
over 100 daunting curves in this German mountain region.
Owners of the CSL will
love raising the bonnet, just to gaze at that carbon-fibre air
intake. This intake system provides a fair proportion of the
extra 13 kW produced by the 3,2-litre, 24-valve six cylinder
Maximum power on the CSL is 265 kW at 7 900 rpm, but even more
pleasing than the extra power is the ominous roar from the
induction system, when the sporting programmes are used on the
engine-and gearbox management system.
An extra flap in the airbox automatically opens at about 3 000
rpm for a real racer or Touring Car engine note.
Inside the car there is a real no-compromise approach to
sports driving. The seats are identical to race buckets and
offer minimal comfort but maximum support over long journeys.
If it‘s comfort you are after, stick to the standard M3