Top speed runs on the Autobahn typically involve common cars that are currently on sale or have been discontinued in recent years. The M3 CSL is neither of those as only 1,383 units were ever made and the last one rolled off the assembly line some 19 years ago. BMW sold the car in only two colors – Sapphire Black and the more common Silver Grey featured here on a pristine example with only 77,100 kilometers (nearly 48,000 miles) on the odometer.
Driven on an unrestricted section of the glorious Autobahn in Germany, the M3 CSL used almost its entire speedometer by lifting the needle up to 290 km/h (180 mph). In reality, the sports coupe was actually doing 274 km/h (170 mph) based on the GPS-verified speed, which is still not too shabby for a car made in 2003. When it was originally unveiled, BMW said it would max out at 280 km/h (174 mph) provided the owner had a C racing license. Otherwise, the car was electronically capped at 250 km/h (155 mph).
The Nürburgring lap time of 7 minutes and 50 seconds was a big deal back in the day, but BMW has managed to shave off half a minute with the M4 CSL and its 7:20 lap time. Compared to the regular M3 of the E46 era, the CSL had slightly wider tracks and semi-slick tires fitted as standard equipment. Those wheels were exclusive, but only for a while as the 2005 M3 with the Competition Package got them as well.
BMW M engineers were able to extract an additional 17 horsepower by taking the S54B32 to 360 hp for the S54B32HP. The inline-six also pushed out an extra 5 Newton-meters of torque for a grand total of 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) in a car that lost 110 kilograms (243 pounds) compared to the standard M4. That output much not seem much by today’s standards, but the M3 CSL weighed only 1,385 kg (3,053 lbs) or nearly 200 kg (441 lbs) than even the M2 CS.
We’d argue the design has aged like fine wine and the 3.2-liter still sounds as exceptional as it did nearly 20 years ago.
Source: AutoTopNL / YouTube