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This BMW M3 CSL has a secret

For many fans, the BMW M3 CSL is the best M3 ever! Between 2003 and 2004, the Munich-based company made nearly 1,400 copies of the special model, some of which now sell for over 100,000 euros. CSL materials are very special: six cylinders in line with carbon air box, bucket seats, semi-slick (normal tires also available on request), carbon roof and more. What people barely knew until now: BMW also made the M3 CSL with a V8. The prototype is still around today and is even ready to be ridden!

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In a recently published YouTube video, BMW presents the E46 generation-specific M3 CSL, the existence of which may have been known to only a few people until recently. The video was shot at BMW M’s secret treasury: It starts with the M3 CSL which may be a rolled up steel gray and may appear normal at first glance.

But lastly for sound, BMW fans should be skeptical: instead of the hoarse, in-line six-cylinder sound, the E46 delivers a bassy, ​​shrill sound!

V8 instead of six cylinders in the M3 CSL

On closer inspection, the connoisseur will find a second round air intake integrated into the front apron by hand: this intake on the passenger side is intended to supply cooling air to the V8 under the hood.

Wait a minute, V8? That’s right: This one doesn’t have the legendary in-line six-cylinder engine that stands for S54, which makes 360 hp and 370 Nm in the CSL, but the 5.0-liter V8 from the BMW M5 E39.
The V8, dubbed the S62, only fits into the Series 3 engine compartment and, at 430 hp, is said to be slightly more powerful than the 400 hp versions in the M5 and Z8. Curious: Something went wrong with the performance data displayed. There is talk of a unique engine with a rating of S65VB40 – S65 being a V8 being offered in the M3 E9X from 2007. In the video, on the other hand, it is clear that the 4941 ccm S62 of the M5 E39 is installed.

Either way, one thing is clear: a fully roadworthy prototype should be a lot of fun – which is confirmed by Hans Rahn, head of the prototype department at BMW M. He also goes on to explain the idea behind the test vehicle: “We’re looking to see if – if you take the CSL idea further – you can add anything to it. It’s a crazy test!”

The optics are almost standard

Because of the large engine, the curb weight of just 1,385 kilos over the standard CSL should be a bit of a lift, but the extra power should make up for it. Unlike the M5 and Z8, the S62 in this prototype is mated to an SMG II M3 CSL gearbox. Otherwise, CSL is left as default.

Straight-six or V8? This is of course a matter of taste. But one thing is certain: this M3 CSL is a spectacular prototype that was presented to the public for the first time in almost 20 years on the occasion of the return of the acronym CSL. And the best part is: there are more test vehicles not seen in the BMW M treasury – like the BMW M5 CSL!