Rare 2023 BMW M4 CSL Celebrates 50 Years of M Performance

The 2023 BMW M4 CSL is only the third in company history to bear the Coupe Sport Leichtbau (Coupe Sport Lightweight) moniker. In this specific instance, however, BMW said it stands for Competition, Sport, Lightweight, but no matter what you call it, the M4 CSL is as serious as it gets. It may not seem evident at first, and don’t let the lack of aero appendages or a shouty rear wing fool you: The new M4 CSL is a lighter, harder, and faster M4 Competition RWD, a car that you wouldn’t call slow or lacking in merits with its 503-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six.

Setting The Stage

It’s not every day that BMW unveils a CSL car. But when it does, the brand goes all-out in its quest for racing dominance. The first BMW car to wear the CSL badge was the 3.0 CSL, a homologation special unveiled in 1972 that won numerous European racing championships between 1973 and 1979. BMW produced less than 1,300 units, and it would cost you upwards of $200,000 to add one to your garage.

The second CSL arrived in 2003, and it’s possibly the best-driving and rarest E46 3 Series of all time. We’re referring to the mystical M3 CSL and its yummy 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-six with 360 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque. If you find one, grab it as quick as you can. BMW only made 1,358 examples of the M3 CSL.

2023 BMW M4 CSL: More Power & Speed

It so happens that 2022 is the 50th anniversary of BMW’s high-performance M division. Established in 1972 to facilitate BMW’s participation in professional motorsports, the M badge has racing in its genes, and the 2023 M4 CSL is a worthy torchbearer. Under the hood is a reconfigured and retuned 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six-cylinder with a forged crankshaft, an updated indirect intercooler, and a new cylinder head with a 3D-printed core. The changes enabled BMW to hike the boost pressure from a stock 24.7 psi to a heady 30.5 psi, unleashing 40 more horses than a stock M4 Competition.

With 550 horsepower and 479 lb-ft. of torque to play with, the new M4 CSL is the most potent, road-legal M4 to leave the Dingolfing factory gates. Equipped with a rear-wheel drivetrain and a standard eight-speed automatic (manual not available), the M4 CSL rushes from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, slightly quicker than an M4 Competition RWD but understandably slower (by 0.2 seconds) than an M4 Competition xDrive. Top speed is 191 mph.

2023 BMW M4 CSL
2023 BMW M4 CSL. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

Innovative Lightweight Construction

Part of the 2023 BMW M4 CSL’s propensity for velocity is due to its lighter construction. BMW claims up to 240 lbs. of weight savings over a stock M4 Competition RWD with the extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). You will find CFRP in the roof, trunk lid, front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror caps, and hood, which looks magnificent with its two sculpted channels.

The M4 CSL has no rear seats, which cuts a nice chunk of weight (46 lbs.) from the car. However, it’s the little details that matter. BMW’s M division was so obsessed with the weight loss program that they managed to save another eight lbs. by reconfiguring the front kidney grille, rear lights, automatic climate control, and floor mats. Another nine lbs. was saved by using titanium in the exhaust system. Their efforts paid off. The M4 CSL weighs 3,640 lbs., equating to a brilliant power-to-weight ratio of 6.7 lbs./hp.

Racing Vibe

The BMW M4 CSL sits 0.3 inches lower to the ground than an M4 Competition. It has bespoke underpinnings like unique anti-roll bars, mountings, model-specific wheel damper settings, and custom settings for the adaptive M suspension and electromechanical M Servotronic steering. The M4 CSL has “BMW Laserlight” headlights, exclusive M Carbon full bucket seats, sound insulation, carbon-ceramic brakes, and forged alloy wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear). The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires were developed exclusively for the M4 CSL, but less aggressive performance tires are available at no extra cost.

Inside, the M4 CSL has a carbon-fiber center console, an Alcantara steering wheel with a red 12 o’clock marker, carbon-fiber paddle shifters, and carbon trimmings.

2023 BMW M4 CSL Nürburgring Track Record

Piloted by development engineer Jörg Weidinger, the 2023 BMW M4 CSL completed a lap of the Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 20.20 seconds (7:20.2). It’s not enough to unseat the fastest production cars around the Nürburgring, but the newest M4 CSL is officially the most production-ready BMW to circle the Green Hell.

2023 BMW M4 CSL: Pricing & Availability

The 2023 BMW M4 CSL is a limited-edition model with only 1,000 units slated for global distribution. The base price is $140,895, including the $995 destination fee. You can order an M4 CSL in Frozen Brooklyn Gray Metallic, Alpine White, or Black Sapphire Metallic with exposed red accents.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: BMW of North America, LLC.