This was nearly the most hardcore CSL around.
As part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, BMW M has gone all-out to celebrate with special badging, new concepts, and the rebirth of the CSL moniker. But in celebrating the latter, the brand has also given us an inside look into the CSL prototypes that never reached production. In part one of the YouTube special, we saw a V8-powered E46 M3 CSL, and two V10-powered prototypes in the form of the M5 and M6 CSL that could've been. Part two of the special dropped last night and the prototype it reveals is nothing less than drool-worthy.
BMW M actually built an M2 CSL prototype, but instead of it just being lighter and more powerful, it pretty much took all the development of the old M4 GTS and dropped it into the smaller M2's body.
What looks like a full race-spec BMW M2 CS with a fixed rear wing and full roll cage was actually developed before the official M2 CS Racing. According to Hans Rahn, BMW M's head of vehicle prototyping and manufacturing concept, this was the vision for the M2 in its transition from standard M2 to the M2 Competition. It was conceived as an advancement of the story told by the M4 GTS, inheriting the fixed rear wing and roll cage of that model - typically insignia that define an M car as a GTS rather than a CSL which is still road-biased. The details are fascinating, with the uprights for the wing crafted in an organic shape that remains lightweight yet provides appropriate support.
Inside, the full roll cage attracts the eye thanks to its vivid red coloring, but other details are impressive despite their subtlety, like an Alcantara steering wheel with red accents, and Alcantara used on the door cards and dash with the CSL designation laser-etched into the fabric. The carbon-shelled bucket seats are leather-clad and feature four-point racing harnesses. The carbon theme is continued with the lightweight center console devoid of storage bins and the like.
Other aspects of the build are also carbon, like the lightweight roof and the carbon front splitter beneath its red-painted finish.
In this video, we see the prototype driven, unlike other prototypes which were merely revved. As for what powered the M2 CSL prototype, the turbocharged inline-six beneath the hood generates 444 horsepower - the same as the production M2 CS. In its brief stint in action, the M2 CSL proves it can get very, very sideways.
Interestingly, Rahn makes the statement that he sees the BMW M2 as "the essence of what the M stands for," which is a sentiment we've echoed on several occasions, not least of which after we drove the M2 CS and called it the "BMW's greatest M3 yet." But when it came time to choose between producing a series-built M2 CSL or the M2 CS, the two prototypes were parked alongside one another, both finished in the same Misano Blue paintwork, and everyone decided the M2 CS was the perfect iteration of the M2 for the road.
The video then culminates with the most recent CSL-badged product, the all-new 2023 BMW M4 CSL, delving into the details of its lightweight construction, motorsport-style lighting, and extensive use of carbon fiber.