EVO Mag: BMW M3 GTS vs BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW M3 | December 21st, 2011 by 4
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This is probably one of the last articles that Chris Harris wrote for EVO Mag (he’s heading to Pistonheads) and what an article this tuned …

This is probably one of the last articles that Chris Harris wrote for EVO Mag (he’s heading to Pistonheads) and what an article this tuned out to be. Harris takes the ultimate M3, the GTS model, and places it against the historical 3.0 CSL.

Let’s see an an excerpt from the review:

“The difficulty with old metal is approaching the way it drives with any objectivity. The CSL is a car I wanted to understand in a 2011 context, if only because that other famous homologation special from the era, the aforementioned 911 Carrera 2.7 RS, sustains its appeal and value because it still feels surprisingly competent at speed. But when you approach the CSL, you giggle at the body alterations, clink the little metal door-handle open and fill your lungs with the unmistakeable pong of vinyl-impregnated air. If your objective intentions aren’t already shot to bits, then they soon will be: that shoulder-cut bucket provides the perfect, suggestively laid-back ’70s posture, the leather-trimmed wheel is thin and delicate, and there’s no slack at the straight ahead. The motor takes a few seconds to fire, but does so cleanly, settles to that trademark Bosch-mechanical-injection-idle and, if you weren’t already snared, you now will be.

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The throttle weight is just perfect; prod lightly and the VDO rev-counter leaps. The straight-six makes a gruff rumble, but at low revs is partially obscured by the noise of the cooling fan. The steering is comically heavy at low speed but all it takes is 15mph showing on the speedo for the wheel to free up and provide the driver with an experience unavailable in any modern car. The rack is slow, but that doesn’t matter in the context of the CSL: it is quite perfectly matched to every other control. And to think that non-Batmobile CSLs are still well under £50K – what a bargain.

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Does it feel aloof and computerised after the CSL? I think that’s too banal an explanation for the differences between the two – perhaps the key word is ‘consistent’. The GTS offers its driver a level of consistency through its controls that was unimaginable 40 years ago: regardless of load, angle or speed, the steering is heavy but precise, the throttle heavily sprung but instantaneous in its response. The sharp, near-perfect shifts from the DCT transmission only add to the feeling of imperious consistency, and as a driver it’s impossible not to be impressed.

In the CSL you moderate your inputs according to the conditions, largely because you can’t be entirely sure what mood the car will be in – under load into a turn it might be a little reluctant to shift from third to second; the inside-front brake might grab slightly and the throttle could require some added shove. So you improvise – you glean what you can from the information available through your hands, bottom and feet and you adjust your inputs accordingly, because the controls never remain consistent. That’s the joy of classics.

The GTS really is the anti-GT-R, though. As honestly rear-driven as any car on the planet and easily as strong as its 444bhp would suggest, I challenge anyone not to drive it with some level of oversteer. Owners will need to be followed around by a large Pirelli truck.”

Read full review