BMW M3 CSL: PH Blog


They say you should never meet your heroes, but for me the CSL is the exception to the rule. You see, when I was a tantalisingly close to being able to drive in 2003, I was lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on how you see it...) to have a CSL in the family. But I never got to drive it.

'Sean's' CSL hangs out with the others on the trip
'Sean's' CSL hangs out with the others on the trip
So, after 10 years of waiting it was fitting to get the call to point BMW's finest example of the breed down to Munich for its special birthday bash.

To finally experience the sensory overload from behind the wheel - the pared-back carbon fibre clad cabin, the feedback from the chassis and the figure-hugging one-piece seat and Alcantara surfaces - was bracing and brought back memories etched into my mind.

I mentioned some reservations with the car in my CSL 10th anniversary diary and how today you have to view it as something of a classic, but setting my rose-tinted spectacles to one side, the CSL was still sublime; everything I'd hoped it would be.

In Sport mode the throttle response is so good it's as if the pedal's an extension of your right foot. And the engine's mapping is so smooth and of such high resolution that it never hesitates or stutters when you ask for the gas - even at low revs and in a high gear. Prodding the Sport button opens up a flap in the airbox to give you the full hit of noise, too. Apart from adding around 10hp from the ram air effect, it goes all Spinal Tap on you, turning everything up to 11. It's the defining characteristic of the car.

Stereo's rubbish, induction noise immense
Stereo's rubbish, induction noise immense
It starts out as a raucous, rude hammering from under the bonnet and morphs into a sound that buzzes around your brain like a swarm of kamikaze wasps. It begs for more, and more. And more. It's relentless.

I could feel the CSL itching to devour some corners on the autobahn on the way down - even if the straight-line blasts were good fun and better to listen to than the shockingly tinny stereo...

I had to wait a few days, but it duly delivered when the roads presented the opportunity. The steering feels so direct - it's quicker than the standard E46 M3's and combines with a beautifully balanced chassis that means you feel confident in pushing the car hard early on.

It's rewarding when you do, too. Grip is abundant, but not so strong that it'll ruin any fun. Stiffer and more focused than any normal M3, the point at which the CSL let's you know you're taking liberties is strongly defined, but it does warn you when you're getting close.

A 10-year wait for a drive but worth every second
A 10-year wait for a drive but worth every second
From every point of contact it bristles with information. The connection to the chassis is so strong through the wheel, the seat and the throttle that driving hard becomes the default mode and ridiculously intuitive.

I'm glad I met my hero.

Sean

Additional photography: John Brookes

 





   


Comments (46) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Gavlar83 05 Jun 2013

    the only car that deserves 'the ultimate driving machine' status

  • Mermaid 05 Jun 2013

    Awesome car- bags of character.

  • cuda 05 Jun 2013

    Gavlar83 said:
    the only car that deserves 'the ultimate driving machine' status
    Was just about to write that too...

    Lovin' mine.

  • monthefish 05 Jun 2013

    Funny how, like so many 'great's, the reception to the car at the time of its launch was lukewarm, but its desirability was increased greatly in the years since.

  • s m 05 Jun 2013

    monthefish said:
    Funny how, like so many 'great's, the reception to the car at the time of its launch was lukewarm, but its desirability was increased greatly in the years since.
    very true hehe

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