BMW bringing back CSL nameplate as part of four-tier M strategy

BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R concept, 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R concept, 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Right now, if you want the most potent version of a BMW M model, the GTS badge represents the top of the ladder. There is only one on offer, the M4 GTS. Soon, however, the GTS is likely to go away, and in its place we will find a CSL badge. In fact, multiple M cars could get the badge.

These will be full-on track weapons designed not for the daily grind but for grinding out lap times. At the Frankfurt motor show, BMW M boss Frank Van Meel told Road & Track that you could expect to find a CSL car fitted with a fire extinguisher, water injection, sticky cup tires, coilovers at the corners, and even a roll cage. “CSL [will be] the top-of-the-line track tool, made on the track for the track, just with a number plate,” Van Meel said.

So the BMW performance lineup will start with a base M model. Then you’ll climb to the Competition Package and on to the CS (Coupe Sport). Finally, the heavily track-focused CSL (Coupe Sport Light) will mark a return to the idea that BMW knows how to build some ultimate driving machines. The CS models will also be track tools, but they will have four seats and more comfort.

Van Meel didn’t say which cars would get the CS and CSL badges, but given that the C stands for Coupe, the M2 and M4 are the natural choices. Van Meel said we will never see an X5 M CSL, but he is open to an M3 or M5 CSL.

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Only two BMWs have worn the CSL badge in the past. The 3.0 CSL of 1971-’75 and the E46 M3 CSL are all-time hits for the brand with enthusiasts. This means any future CSL cars have a lot to live up to, and BMW fans are already drooling to see if they do just that and then some.

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