The CSL Nameplate Makes a Return, But Is It On the Right Car?

For only the third time in BMW M’s illustrious 50-year history they’ve elected to invoke the title of CSL; Coupe, Sports, lightweight. A combination of consonants that adorn the rear of two of the most legendary BMW’s, the E46 M3 and the Batmobile. However, on paper at least, I’m not sure they’re going to pull it off this time around.

It seems fitting to begin with the most important of statistics. No, not power, weight. Or usually in the case of a CSL, lack thereof. The new G80 CSL tips the scales at 1625kg. Yes it’s fairly hefty diet has taken 100kg off the standard competition model, but in no way does that make it a lightweight car. The GoCompare man could shift 5.8% of his mass, but he’d still need some burly pallbearers to get him to the end of the aisle.

For comparison, a 992 GT3 weighs 1418kg when fitted with a manual box. Still more Sugar Ray than Floyd Mayweather, but at least still a good distance from two-tonnes when loaded with fuel and passengers. The same can’t be said of the CSL.

This brings me nicely to my next complaint with the G80 generation, not just the CSL. And that is the automatic gearbox. Not a DCT like we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years, an old school torque converter. Like you get in say a Vauxhall Vectra. I’m being harsh, for the most part its been surprisingly well received. But when you are spending in excess of £120k you’d understandably want the best, something that you do get with the likes of the aforementioned GT3.

I’m sorry to keep bringing it up, but at this price point and philosophy; no rear seats, ultralight-weighting and super sticky track biased rubber, folks are absolutely going to draw their own comparisons to the class leading GT3. So how BMW highlights their ‘Ring lap time at 20+ seconds slower than a GT3, non RS as well mind you, seems like a misstep. In fact, to me the track biased nature of their CSL adventure seems at odds with the CSL ethos.

To me a CSL should be driver, not lap time focussed. And coming with Michelin Cup 2Rs as standard, screams racetrack. But a CSL should be a car that creates a near magically experience not just on road, but at sensible speed too. And I’m sure there would be demand for such a vehicle. Let the GTS BMW has created for the last couple of generations occupy the spot for expensive track version of the super saloon and have the CSL deliberately worse. More 911R than GT3.

A much lighter, perhaps smaller car with a manual box and prioritising driver engagement over performance… am I actually just craving an M2 CSL? Now there’s a thought.

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