For the third time in its hallowed 50-year history, BMW M has dusted off the CSL (Competition, Sport, Lightweight) moniker for an ultra-high-performance model. First, it was the 1973 E9 3.0 CSL, and then the 2003 E46 M3 CSL. Now, the Bavarian house of high performance has applied it to a limited edition, no holds barred version of the second-generation BMW M4. While the M4 previously got saddled with the GTS nomenclature for its high-performance variant, the 2023 BMW M4 CSL celebrates the old naming convention, partially to celebrate M's 50th anniversary, and partly because it's even purer than the GTS was. Built around the G82-generation M4 Coupe, the M4 CSL goes rear-wheel drive, gets more power, less weight, and dedicates itself to the pursuit of on-track perfection in much the same way as the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA and Porsche 911 GT3. Limited to 1,000 units globally and with a price tag to make mere mortals weep, this is the purest distillation of BMW M's road and track prowess in one.
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3.0L Twin-Turbo Inline-6 Gas
Revealed at the 2022 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este surrounding Lake Como in Northern Italy, the release date of the BMW M4 CSL in the USA is slated for mid-to-late 2022. Only 1,000 models will be built globally, with production commencing in July 2022 and deliveries beginning shortly thereafter.
With only 1,000 being built to celebrate M's 50th year of existence, the price of the 2023 BMW M4 CSL is understandably high. After all, you're paying for prestige, exclusivity, and a piece of BMW history. MSRP for models in the US is $139,900 excluding a destination fee of $995. We can only hope BMW finds a way around price gouging, otherwise, the M4 CSL could cost a lot more. As for how that pricing fits in with rivals, the Porsche 911 GT3 starts at $161,100.
Bespoke bodywork serves multiple purposes on the exterior of the BMW M4 CSL. Not only does it look fast, even when standing still, but the sculpted bodywork enhances aerodynamics efficiency and reduces weight. A bespoke front end features a newly revised CFRP grille with fewer slats, contributing towards an eight-pound weight saving from basic design elements alone. Beneath this, a front spoiler is also fashioned from carbon, joined by a carbon hood, roof, trunk lid, and side skirts. The front air intakes have also been designed specifically for increased airflow, while air curtains in the front bumper direct air towards cooling the brakes. The headlights feature yellow daytime running lights a-la M5 CS and decades of BMW M race cars, while the main beams use BMW Laserlight technology.
The rear of the M4 CSL stands out thanks to lightweight taillights with woven light threads to create a delicate design never seen before. The finer details are equally as impressive, with a ducktail trunk spoiler, red-trimmed badging, and signature quad M exhaust pipes housed within a prominent diffuser. The lightweight titanium tailpipes - which save nearly 10 lbs compared to the standard M4's exhaust - are finished in matte black with striped detailing.
Forged M light alloy wheels, 19 inches in front and 20 at the rear, have a cross-spoke design unique to the CSL. Behind these, carbon ceramic brakes have calipers painted red.
A limited-edition sports car deserves a limited paint selection to further enhance its exclusivity. That's why BMW has curated three colors for the M4 CSL and made available the option of Frozen Brooklyn Grey metallic paint as opposed to the standard two offerings of Alpine White or Black Sapphire metallic. What looks like black stripes at first glance on the hood are actually exposed sections of the carbon fiber hood in recessed channels, accented by red striping, the same red that accents the grille, side sills, and the double-bubble carbon fiber roof.
The final touch is the 50th anniversary BMW roundel, with offset surrounds in the famed BMW tricolor.
With grille slats removed in the supposed pursuit of the 'lightweight' portion of the CSL moniker, some may be disappointed to hear that only 240 lbs have been shaved from the overall weight of the M4 Coupe in its CSL transition. The final figure is a curb weight of 3,640 lbs. Other dimensions of the new BMW M4 CSL are largely similar to those of the standard car, measuring 188.7 inches long, 75.6 inches in width, and 54.6 inches tall. The wheelbase measures 112.5 inches. 4.4 inches of ground clearance is a result of the 0.3-inch drop in ride height atop the model-specific suspension.
Could the BMW M4 CSL really deserve the badge without a hefty dose of performance enhancement? Absolutely not.
It's fitting then that BMW retained rear-wheel drive as the only drivetrain option, and in much the same vein as the E46 M3 CSL, only offers the new car with an automatic gearbox. Thankfully, it's nothing like the old single-clutch SMG automated manual and this one is a revised version of the ubiquitous eight-speed torque converter automatic from ZF, now tuned for even snappier shifts. The manual mode, operated via carbon fiber paddles behind the steering wheel, is a true manual mode, letting you run into the rev limiter and only shift when you ask it to.
As for the power plant itself, the 2023 BMW M4 CSL's engine is an evolution of the S58 straight-six from the regular M4. Two turbochargers now boost at 30.5 psi - up from 24.7 psi in the M4 Competition - to generate an extra 40 horsepower. Final outputs total at 543 hp peaking at 6,250 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque available from 2,750-5,950 rpm. The obligatory performance specs are a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.6 seconds, 0-120 mph in 10.5 seconds, and a top speed of 191 mph. Those alone don't tell the whole story, however, as traction is limited and the M4 CSL is engineered for more than just straight-line prowess.
The chassis has been enhanced in myriad ways. Along with the aforementioned 0.3-inch drop in ride height, the new suspension comes standard with adaptive damping, model-specific steering calibration, and unique suspension settings for camber, spring, and damper rates. The new suspension is supported by auxiliary springs to maintain contact on rebound, while anti-roll bars and their mountings are M4 CSL-specific. A standard limited-slip differential helps apportion power with new stability control programming and 10-stage traction control, with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires measuring a meaty 285mm across on the rear axle bringing it all together. Standard carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston front and floating monoblock rear calipers bring things to a halt, with rotors measuring 15.7- and 15 inches, front and rear.
In real-world terms, the M4 CSL laps the Nurburgring in 7 minutes, 20.2 seconds - faster than any series-production BMW ever has. And yet this has been engineered to still be usable on road, making the M4 Competition's standard high-performance street tires optionally available.
Wait, you don't seriously care how much fuel the M4 CSL is going to use, do you? Well, if you are one that does care for that sort of thing rather than anything else about the 2023 M4 CSL coupe, then know that BMW makes absolutely no claims in this regard and the EPA has yet to publish figures (which are typically manufacturer-supplied in any case). We doubt it'll see any improvement over the M4 Competition's 19 mpg combined with RWD, or even the AWD model's 18 mpg. Regardless, a 15.6-gallon gas tank - naturally requiring premium gasoline - should give you plenty of time at the limit on track between refills.
A regular M4 has space for four inside, but the ultra-focused BMW M4 CSL seats only two occupants. Those seats are carbon-shelled M full buckets sans any typical comforts like heating, ventilation, power-, or lumbar adjustment, saving 53 lbs in the process. Alternatively, you can swap in a set of heated M carbon seats with power adjustment at no-cost. These fixed-back buckets are upholstered in Merino leather - finished in black - offset by red Alcantara and BMW M tricolor contrast stitching on the seat bolsters and seatbelts. The rear seat has been removed entirely (saving another 46 lbs), and in its place, you'll find a cargo net to hold two race helmets in place.
Carbon fiber dominates the interior of the BMW M4 CSL, with a CFRP center console and woven carbon found on the dash, doors, steering wheel and just about everywhere else, saving a further 9 lbs. Speaking of the tiller, it's Alcantara clad, perfectly round as it should be, and features a red 12 o'clock marker. Then, in case you forget what car you're in, 'CSL' badging can be found just about everywhere from the seatbacks to the center console, the rear panel, and the door sills.
And in case you decide to take it shopping before you hit the track, the BMW M4 CSL's trunk space measures 12 cubic feet.
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