2023 BMW 3.0 CSL revealed; most powerful inline-6, lots of carbon fibre

Brett Davis

Check this out. It’s the new BMW 3.0 CSL, inspired by the classic – and very iconic – model from the 1970s. It features BMW’s most powerful road-going inline-six ever, while boasting extreme weight reduction measures and a unique two-seat passenger experience. And it’s going into production.

That’s right. This is not a concept car. BMW is making it for customers. Mind you, only 50 units are going up for grabs and we’re sure they are all already accounted for. The number 50 relates to BMW M’s 50th anniversary.

Firstly, the engine. It’s based on the S58 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six as seen in the M3/M4. However, there’s a new forged crankshaft and a head that’s made using 3D printing technology, as well as further tuning to the TwinPower turbo technology.

The result is a whopping 412kW and 550Nm. That makes it the most powerful inline-six BMW has ever made for a road car. The engine revs to 7200rpm, and features extensive enhancements to the cooling systems compared with the regular S58. Engineers spent countless hours on the Nurburgring to torture test the complete package.

Matched up to the engine is a six-speed manual transmission (yep) offering a “precisely defined” gearshift you just know is going to feel really good. From there, all that power is fed to a new Active M Differential at the back, offering completely and continuously variable locking, including up to 100 per cent locked under certain demands; drifting and powerskids and whatnot.

To ensure incredible handling BMW M has devised a comprehensive suspension package, with double-joint sprint struts at the front and a five-link rear end in an M-specific layout. Cast aluminium is used for the strut tower braces for lightness, and adaptive M dampers provide a wide dynamic range. There’s also electromechanical M Servotronic steering using a variable ratio rack.

Braking performance is provided by a set of 400mm front and 380mm rear M carbon ceramic discs, clamped by six-piston fixed calipers on the front and single-piston fixed units on the back. These are encompassed by a set of gorgeous forged light-alloy wheels, wearing 285/30 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres on the front (judging by the photo below).

As for the exterior and design, it is inspired by that original ‘Batmobile’ icon from the 1970s. A long bonnet emphasises its strong motor underneath, while the middle is pinched for a curvy waistline leaving a muscular and raunchy rear end.

BMW says it spent around 200 working hours on developing and optimising the design for aerodynamic balance, including 50 hours in BMW’s wind tunnel. Most of the body is made from carbon fibre, including the bonnet, roof, boot lid, and front and rear aprons, as well as the rear spoiler and diffuser.

The company hasn’t specifically outlined a kerb weight figure, however, it says the car offers a power-to-weight ratio of 2.9kg:1hp. That translates to a weight figure of about 1624kg (560hp multiplied by 2.9).

You probably noticed the iconic BMW M livery over the bodywork, too. Well, it isn’t just a bunch of decals or a wrap. Most of these elements are hand-painted, requiring precise detail and six working days to complete. The display obviously helps this special edition stand out even more.

Inside is a pair of lightweight bucket seats, carbon fibre door card sections and a bespoke carbon fibre centre console, with Alcantara for the steering wheel and seats. There’s also a multimedia screen and iDrive controller for added convenience.

As mentioned, just 50 examples of the new BMW 3.0 CSL will go into production. It’s unclear if any will come to Australia, but each will be made at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany, which is where most M models are made and the flagship 7 Series. Prices will reportedly start from around 750,000 euros (about AU$1.154 million).

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