The BMW 3.0 CSL is back, revived with 553 HP and a six-speed manual

  • BMW has brought back the 3.0 CSL moniker on a new limited-edition sports car that echoes the design of the original 70s-era 3.0 CSL and features a motorsport-inspired livery.
  • The twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine produces 553 horsepower; it’s the most powerful inline-six ever used in a road-legal BMW M car.
  • That engine is paired with a six-speed manual, and power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels. Only 50 units will be built.

Back in 2015, BMW hinted at a revival of one of its most iconic sports cars of all time with the 3.0 CSL Hommage R concept. It was a muscular modern interpretation of the 3.0 CSL homologation special built in small numbers in the 1970s, which was nicknamed the “Batmobile” thanks to the racing car’s dramatic aerodynamic package. Now, seven years later, BMW has finally made this concept a reality, reviving the 3.0 CSL nameplate for a new limited-edition sports car that attempts to distill the core values ​​of the M division and its illustrious motorsport history into one vehicle.

While the cabin shape and overall proportions suggest the 3.0 CSL shares its bones with the current generation M4, the 3.0 CSL’s bodywork is unique and one of the most eye-catching designs BMW has produced recently. We certainly wouldn’t call the grille small, but it’s not monstrous like the unit on the M4, new i7 or XM super SUV, and its satin aluminum trim flows nicely into the angular headlights. The bulging fenders and twin rear wing setup are distinctly reminiscent of the original 3.0 CSL “Batmobile”, as are the twin circular air intakes cut into the front bumper and the small fins protruding from the bonnet.

The headlights feature yellow LED laser lights – drawing a connection to the M4 GT3 race car – and the intricately threaded taillight LEDs are reminiscent of those on the M4 CSL. The heavy-duty wheel arches house gold-colored center-locking wheels measuring 20 inches at the front and 21 inches at the rear, wrapped in custom-designed Michelin tires. The special edition sports car also stands out thanks to its motorsport-inspired livery, with the white paint accented by stripes in the traditional BMW M colors like the livery of the 1970s racing car. Almost the entire body is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), with the weave visible in the lower trim elements, the rear wing and the lettering on the roof, and most of the carbon components are made by hand.

The same twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline-six found in the M3 and M4 is at the heart of the 3.0 CSL, but has been tuned to make it the most powerful inline-six ever used in a road-legal BMW M car, spit out 553 horsepower, an increase of 50 ponies over the M4 competition. Torque output remains at 406 pound-feet, the same as the non-competition-spec M4, and all that thrust is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The 3.0-litre makes use of technical know-how from BMW’s DTM racing program with a stiff crankcase, forged lightweight crankshaft and a 3D-printed cylinder head core, as well as a specially designed oil supply and cooling system.

Helping manage all that power, an active M differential on the rear axle works with stability control to maintain traction and prevent drivers from slamming their limited-edition sports car into a wall. The front suspension uses a double-link strut setup, while the rear suspension is a multilink design, paired with adaptive dampers and variable-ratio electric power steering. Carbon-ceramic brakes are used to slow the 3.0 CSL, with six-piston fixed caliper stoppers at the front and single-piston fixed caliper brakes at the rear. The calipers are painted red and the traction control system has 10 selectable levels of engagement to help customize the driving experience.

The cabin ditches the rear seats for a storage compartment that can hold two helmets, and carbon fiber has infiltrated the cockpit, with CFRP on the door panels and the two bucket seats making extensive use of the lightweight material. The dashboard design is largely similar to the M4’s, and black Alcantara covers the seats, steering wheel and parts of the dashboard. White contrast stitching compliments the unique shift knob, which features a retro design with the number 50 engraved to remind you just how exclusive the 3.0 CSL is.

This figure refers to the fact that BMW will only build 50 units of the 3.0 CSL, with the entire production run lasting just three months at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Moosthenning, Germany. There’s no word yet on pricing, but given the limited production run, we expect it to cost significantly more than the M4 Competition coupe’s $79,595 starting price, and likely even higher than the M4 CSL’s $140,895 price. Potential buyers will also need to act fast – with so few units available, it likely won’t be long before they’re all snapped up.

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