by Karl Furlong
BMW is rumored to be developing a new version of its M8 Coupe that will carry the revered CSL badge, and at first, it seems like a challenging undertaking for the M division. After all, CSL translates to Coupe Sport Lightweight and signifies a lighter and more agile variant of the car upon which it is based; at nearly 4,300 pounds, the large and heavy M8 Competition doesn't sound like the ideal starting point for a new CSL model. Then again, BMW has an uncanny ability to make large cars feel smaller than they are, so transforming the normal M8 from a high-powered GT into more of a track weapon is within its reach. While it won't be as exotic or outrageously expensive as the new 3.0 CSL, the M8 CSL should be a special car if the M4 CSL is anything to go by.
Previous rumors led us to believe that the release date for the BMW M8 CSL would coincide with BMW M's 50th anniversary year in 2022, but this did not materialize. We expect the M8 CSL to be coming out later in 2023 as a 2024 model at the earliest, although a 2024 release is realistic.
Nothing official has been stated with regards to the price of the 2024 BMW M8 CSL, but we do know that the M4 CSL is over 70% more expensive than the M4 Competition in the USA. Applying a similar increase to the M8 CSL relative to the M8 Competition would see the former starting at an MSRP of around $225,000.
Rivals at a similar cost would be fierce, including the Porsche 911 GT3 RS ($223,800), 911 Turbo S ($216,100), McLaren Artura (starts at around $233,000), and Ferrari Roma (starting at about $222,000). That's an intimidating lineup of exotics, so the M8 CSL will need to be something extraordinary to match them.
We have only seen a few prototypes that could preview the final exterior design of the new BMW M8 CSL coupe. These test mules showed off a more aggressive M8 body with additions such as a new grille with red accents; the M4 CSL also received red accents for its grille but these were applied differently. The M8 CSL prototypes also sport a unique bumper and bolder front splitter. A later prototype featured black sections on the hood leading to dual vents, along with a red glow for the daytime running lamps.
At the back, the major update is a large carbon fiber rear wing. This is quite a change from the M4 CSL's ducktail rear spoiler. Unique wheels and a carbon fiber roof also form part of the changes, but light camouflage was applied to the area around the quad-exit tailpipes. Another interesting touch is a rear center light between the exhaust outlets.
The M4 CSL has a carbon roof, trunk lid, and side skirts, and these should be echoed on the M8 CSL to help bring the hefty coupe's weight down. We also expect lighter titanium tailpipes and perhaps a set of forged M light alloy wheels.
Exterior colors for the BMW M8 CSL are unknown at this early stage, but if it follows the M4 CSL, we should see exclusive paints like Frozen Brooklyn Grey along with standard shades such as Alpine White and Black Sapphire.
Key dimensions for the BMW M8 CSL are unlikely to differ much from the M8 Competition. That car has a length of 191.8 inches, a width of 74.9 inches, and a height of 53.6 inches. That's stretched over a 111.3-inch wheelbase. Small changes to the bumpers and aerodynamics will probably see the CSL gain or lose an inch here or there.
At 4,295 lbs, the M8 Competition is quite heavy, and BMW will be hoping to get the M8 CSL to at least below 4,000 lbs.
There is more than one possibility for the engine that'll make its way into the BMW M8 CSL. Previous rumors suggested a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged unit with hybrid power that could generate up to 700 horsepower. That was the same engine configuration anticipated for a new X8 M, but in the interim, we got the production XM. Positioned as BMW's flagship performance SUV, the XM's plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a 4.4-liter turbo V8 with an electric motor to make 644 hp as standard and 735-hp in Red Label guise.
With those specs, the M8 CSL would be mighty powerful, but a heavy PHEV powertrain may not be the ideal choice for a CSL-badged model that will also be expected to be agile and stick to the track like glue. For this reason, we wouldn't rule out either an inline-six option or an uprated, non-hybrid version of the M8 Competition's V8.
Like the M4 CSL and 3.0 CSL, the M8 CSL would be both lighter and more engaging if it came with rear-wheel drive, but this is yet to be confirmed. An eight-speed automatic transmission is likely. Regardless of the engine, this potent version of the M8 may dip into the two-second bracket for the 0-60 sprint, considering that the M8 Competition can accomplish this benchmark sprint in three seconds. Added downforce and less weight to lug around should result in quick lap times.
As we don't even know what engine the M8 CSL will have, there is no way to accurately predict what its gas mileage will be like, although this will hardly be a key consideration for the buyer this car is aimed at. For reference, the M8 Competition Coupe returns 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined, and we don't expect the M8 CSL to be any more efficient than this if it also gets a V8.
With a potential six-cylinder engine, better gas mileage and a more useful range will be possible.
We haven't been able to get a clear look at the BMW M8 CSL prototype's interior, even based on the few spy shots we've been privy to. Based on the changes made to the M4 CSL, we expect the M8 CSL to come with racier trim and figure-hugging seats, but many of the same conveniences and technologies found in the regular M8.
The seats inside the BMW M8 CSL are likely to be the carbon-shelled M full buckets found in the M4 CSL; in that car, these seats save over 50 lbs and are pictured below. They won't come with the same level of adjustment or fancy extras like ventilation, but they'll look the part and be better suited to track driving. As with the M4 CSL, the second-row seats are expected to be tossed to save weight, but that's no major issue since the M8 has extremely cramped rear seats anyway.
Elsewhere, we expect plenty of carbon fiber and Alcantara trim, along with bright stitching on the seats, door panels, and dashboard. There will also be CSL insignia to remind you of what you're driving, not that you're likely to forget.
The basic dashboard architecture and the normal M8 infotainment system (also pictured below) will remain, so we expect the familiar 12.3-inch touchscreen interface, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With the rear seat removed, there will technically be more storage space in the cabin. This will supplement the BMW M8 CSL's cargo space, which should match the M8 Competition's surprisingly generous 14.8 cubic feet.
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