These are the cars that BMW M chose to launch as it celebrated 50 years of the most powerful letter in the world.
BMW M celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, and the festivities continued as the year progressed. BMW M headlined this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed and brought a fleet of icons to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. On M cars delivered this year, a special heritage logo was offered. For those wanting something a little more exclusive, the M3 and M4 Edition 50 Jahre were offered in limited numbers; but the real highlights came in the form of new cars.
Five all-new M cars were presented this year, and although many enthusiasts were waxing lyrical about their drawbacks, each is truly special. Let's recap the new arrivals starting with the first and working our way to the most recent.
Revealed on May 19, the long-rumored M4 CSL finally broke cover. Under the carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) hood, the 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six known as the S58 is boosted to 543 horsepower, an increase of 40 hp over the M4 Competition. Overall, weight is reduced by some 240 pounds. It's still heavy compared to its spiritual grandfather, the E46 M3 CSL, but compared to the M4, it's a featherweight.
0-60 mph will take no more than 3.6 seconds, and the electronic nannies restrict top speed to 191 mph. While weight reduction and performance enhancements contribute to its appeal, the M4 CSL's unique styling truly sets it apart, with a ducktail rear spoiler integrated into the trunk, a unique front grille, and filigree laser light threads in the taillights. There's a lot more to unpack, but this was a great way to kick off the celebrations.
The M3 Touring - or as we'd call it, the M3 wagon - was revealed in June, but the occasion was bittersweet since the most practical M3 ever to be sold to the public will be forbidden fruit in the US. With the same 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque that you get in the M3 Competition sedan, it's a rapid beast that can get to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and can lap the Nurburgring in a time of just 7:35.06. It comes with M xDrive all-wheel drive, so it's quite the winter weapon.
We were overjoyed to learn that the M3 wagon would make production, and if you aren't offended by the oversized kidney grilles, it's quite a looker too. With the first two reveals of the year, BMW M seemed to be catering to the enthusiast more than ever.
Unfortunately, catering to enthusiasts did not last long. In September, the first-ever (and hopefully last, in our opinion) BMW XM was revealed, causing involuntary nausea among small children and disgust amongst those old enough to remember when BMW built beautiful cars. In the minds of the BMW faithful, the first standalone M car since the legendary M1 should have been a supercar.
Instead, we got a massive SUV with heinous styling that exists simply to give Urus and Bentayga buyers an alternative with a BMW badge. We could talk about its performance, but who cares about the fact that it will have up to 735 hp when it weighs more than the average moon? Incidentally, that's the only place we'd like to view the XM from.
On the styling front, things didn't get much better for the October reveal of the all-new M2. However, the ingredients to this recipe are mouthwatering to contemplate: a 3.0-liter S58 developing 453 hp, a six-speed manual transmission as standard, RWD, and compact dimensions. Unfortunately, somebody at BMW didn't get the memo that the M2 is supposed to be more playful than an M4, and the G87 weighs only 16 lbs less than a base G82. This will mean a more stable drive, and that engine means it's a quick car, but will it be able to fill the boots of its F87 predecessor confidently? With a maximum top speed of 177 mph and the ability to get to 60 in 3.9 seconds with the optional eight-speed auto, at least you can get away from judgemental purists with ease. Hit or miss? We haven't quite figured that out yet.
The final new car to be revealed by BMW M in its 50th year arrived last month, and this was something that BMW fanboys have been clamoring for since the 3.0 CSL Hommage concept was revealed in 2015. But when it broke cover, it became clear that the bespoke bodywork we were promised was unique, but not special. The 3.0 CSL looks like the rebodied M4 CSL that it practically is, and that's a shame considering its scandalous asking price: around $780,000. Just 50 will be made, each with BMW's most powerful straight-six ever, developing 552 hp. A six-speed manual, center lock wheels, and a not-for-America designation are all standard.
With the 3.0 CSL as its piece de resistance, BMW M has marked 2022 with its famous tricolor branding. Are these new arrivals future classics? Some, perhaps. Did any individual with even a passing interest in cars talk about BMW at some point this year? Absolutely - and that was the point.
Next year, BMW will continue to launch thrilling M products. We're looking forward to the M3 CS, but we'll also have to look at the XM Label Red. 2023 is going to be a wild ride.