After almost two decades, BMW M has finally reintroduced the “CSL” designation to the M4 – the successor to the legendary E46 M3 CSL. And, with just 1,000 copies produced globally, it will be incredibly difficult to locate, much like the original. Not only is it very uncommon, but it’s painfully evident that BMW has gone to great lengths to guarantee that the next CSL captures every bit of the enchantment that the previous contemporary CSL did.
Cues for Exterior Styling
The most noticeable resemblance to the E46 M3 CSL is the completely unique ducktail-style rear trunklid. Made completely of carbon fiber, its main obvious use seem to be paying respect and conserving weight. However, BMW claims that it increases downforce, stability, and agility at high speeds, which I believe. The M4 CSL also gets distinctive wheels, something the E46 CSL achieved well, since the look is still quite popular today.
The G82, like the E46, has distinctive “CSL” badging on the trunk lid, which is arguably a given. And, although we’ll go over the carbon roof in more detail later, even the roof of the G82 has distinctive, CSL-specific details – a strong indication to me that this vehicle is as much a “performance benchmark” as it is a “homage edition.” The front apron has been visibly changed as well.
While not as visible as the E46’s asymmetrical intake slots, the G82 CSL receives a plainly trim-specific front clip that optimizes air flow and sets it apart from any mundane M4. Finally, these vehicles are only available in a few colors: the G82 M4 CSL is available in Frozen Brooklyn Grey metallic, Alpine White, or Black Sapphire metallic. The E46 M3 CSL came in Silver-Grey metallic and Black Sapphire metallic colors.
The M4 CSL, like the E46 M3 CSL, aspires to be a driver-focused vehicle – and you can’t be that without a driver-focused cockpit. The seats in both vehicles are much more aggressive, with the E46 having Recaro-derived racing seats and the M4 receiving ultra light, drastically reinvented carbon fiber chairs. More on it in a moment. The M4 CSL has been given distinctive “CSL” door sills, indicating to the discerning observer that it is, in fact, a CSL.
Finally, the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel plainly indicates the CSL’s intended function — getting sideways swiftly and seldom. Don’t forget about the custom center console, which is built completely of carbon fiber. While numerous vehicles have gotten comparable center consoles since the E46, only the M4 CSL has received a wholly carbon, completely original design – quite close to the E46 M3 CSL’s.
Carbon Fiber abounds.
The E46 M3 CSL was one of the first production vehicles to make considerable use of carbon fiber, with BMW M engineers looking for every bit of weight decrease they could find. In fact, it’s most likely the reason why every M3 afterward has had a carbon fiber roof as standard equipment. The newest G82 M4 CSL continues to prioritize weight reduction, beginning with the hood, trunk, and – naturally – the roof. It is also available inside the vehicle.
In front of you, covering the dash and shifter bezel; and behind you, the purposeful structural carbon fiber of the front seat is not concealed at all. Those seats save around 53 pounds over the already aggressive M4 seats, and you’ll notice that every time you see them. Don’t forget about the rear diffuser, which is fully composed of carbon fiber, and the enormous front lip, which is also entirely made of carbon fiber.
And, like the E46 M3, it receives a totally custom center console that does away with the armrest in favor of – you guessed it – more carbon fiber. The center console and trunk are particularly obvious parallels to the E46 M3 (the trunk being intentionally designed to reference the E46 M3).
Finally, the M4 CSL outperforms the vehicle it replaces in terms of performance. With an extra 40 horsepower and a weight decrease of 240 pounds, it’s easy to draw parallels with the M3 CSL’s 17 horsepower boost and around 242 pounds of weight loss – almost bizarrely comparable. The M4 CSL, like the E46 CSL, adds some improved, lightweight suspension and bracing components. Springs and struts are trim-specific, and both models have less sound insulation. It’s only automatic – like the “SMG” gearbox in the E46 M3 – since it’s the quickest shifting gearbox. All things CSL are synonymous with speed, and the G82 M4 CSL is no exception.
Other than that
The E46 M3 CSL was a pivotal vehicle in BMW M’s history. It served to demonstrate BMW’s commitment to enthusiasts and performance, with a Nurburgring lap time of 7:50, quicker than official marks for the decade-newer F82 M4, Supra, and even the M2 Competition. And it makes the M3 CSL exceptional by any standard. The M4 CSL is expected to provide comparable age-defying performance.
With the end of the internal-combustion engine looming and choices for really exciting driving experiences looking more bleak, the latest CSL symbolizes what may be a last hurrah. Most significantly, it lives up to its moniker, which is more easier said than done these days, which is why most manufacturers do just that. The M4 CSL isn’t just lip service – it’s the tribute we’ve always wanted but weren’t sure we’d receive.