BMW 3.0 CSL: 5 Best Features

Tops / 7 Comments

With a price tag close to $800,000, it's essential to know what sets the 3.0 CSL apart from any other BMW product.

The BMW 3.0 CSL has been revealed, costing a staggering $780,000. The car is not homologated for the USA, but once we had picked our jaws up from the floor after hearing the asking price, we began to wonder what else you could get for that kind of money.

Using personal preferences from the top of this writer's head, we soon realized that you could buy a Porsche 911 GT3 RS ($223,800), a regular M4 CSL ($139,900), and a Ferrari Purosangue (rumored to cost around $375,000). And we'd still have almost enough left to buy a Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition ($42,900).

So what makes the 3.0 CSL so unique that it's supposedly worth 75% of what the original Bugatti Veyron cost? Let's take a look.

Driving Back View BMW M
Side Angle Driving BMW M
Front View BMW M
Rear View BMW M

BMW's Most Powerful Straight-Six Production Engine Ever

After the N54 engine proved that BMW could make a great turbocharged straight-six with plenty of hidden potential, BMW doubled down on forced induction and overengineered every turbocharged motor from then on.

The S55 engine took things to a new level in products like the M4 GTS, and then the S58 arrived. In the 3.0 CSL, this 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine has been boosted to 552 horsepower, but as the Red Bull Driftbrothers have shown us, this power plant is capable of well over 1,000 hp with minimal upgrades.

We're not complaining that the 3.0 CSL isn't much more powerful than the 543-hp M4 CSL upon which it is based - the 911 GT3 RS proves that 500-550 hp is the sweet spot for RWD sports cars - we're simply highlighting that BMW still builds some of the finest engines on the planet, and the unit in the 3.0 CSL is sure to become a future icon.

BMW M4 CSL engine pictured BMW
Driving Front Angle BMW M

6MT + RWD = Ultimate Driving Pleasure

While it would probably have been easier to simply equip the 3.0 CSL with the automatic transmission from the M4 CSL, BMW realized early on that it was building a collector car that would never sit in rush hour traffic if it ever even sees a public road.

To ensure that wealthy buyers who can't drive stick properly don't decimate the clutch, the six-speed manual gearbox has a shift assistant that uses a connection speed control for slip-free clutch engagement following a downshift when braking for corners, but keen three-pedal enthusiasts can deactivate this.

It's probably pointless to talk about a rear-wheel drive sports car with a wider track, less weight, and a proper gearbox if it's so rare that nobody will have the guts to drive it as it should be driven. Still, it's a nice-to-have when most new cars, limited editions or otherwise, come with flappy paddles.

Heck, you can't even order an M4 Competition with a manual.


Bespoke Bodywork

BMW says this is a coachbuilt (or custom-bodied) car, and that's technically true. The 3.0 CSL is loosely based on the M4 CSL but with many body panels re-engineered from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). BMW has not provided an exact weight figure but has said that the car has a power-to-weight ratio of 2.9 kilograms per horsepower.

We calculate that it weighs around 3,580 lbs, roughly 60 pounds less than the M4 CSL. We are also told that many of the interior CFRP components are produced by hand, and even the exterior of the car is painted by a human rather than a machine in a program that takes six days and 134 paint processes to complete.

Two hundred hours were spent optimizing the airflow over the car to hone its aerodynamic balance, including 50 hours in the wind tunnel, so although BMW could have done much more to make this as visually arresting as the CSL Hommage Concept, from which it draws inspiration (which could have helped justify the price tag), the design and construction certainly were not quick weekend exercises either.

Front-End View BMW M
Rear-Facing View BMW M

Center-Lock Wheels

Technically, this could have been a part of the above section, but the center-lock wheels on the 3.0 CSL are too special to be described in only a few lines.

These forged light-alloy rims feature a Y-spoke design with cutouts in the spokes and measure 20 inches in front and 21 inches at the rear. Fastened with a center-locking nut that is torqued to 686 lb-ft (the highest value for any BMW Group production vehicle), the race-inspired rims house massive carbon-ceramic brakes that measure 400x38 millimeters in front and 380x28 mm at the back.

Six-piston calipers feature up front with single-piston calipers on the rear, both sets of which are painted red. As if these details aren't special enough, the wheels are wrapped in custom Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber that sees the number 50 embossed on the sidewalls as a nod to the half-century anniversary that this car celebrates.

Side View BMW M

Limited Production

This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we're happy to see that BMW can build something attractive and exclusive. On the other, by producing just 50 examples and pricing them well beyond the reach of those who don't already own numerous hypercars, BMW M has estranged itself further from its core fanbase.

Keeping production down makes it easier for BMW to guarantee a quality product. Still, that quality product can also never be enjoyed to the full for fear of losing a mightily expensive collector's item.

As a BMW fan, it's disheartening to think that the 3.0 CSL may never be gazed upon by my own eyes, but if this is as successful as we suspect (as in, it sells out fast), then perhaps this car will give BMW the impetus it needs to pursue a true supercar to succeed the M1. If not, maybe we will see more stunning concepts brought to life - the 328 Hommage springs to mind.

Rear Perspective Driving BMW M

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