Sam Philip05 November 2009

Return of the M3 CSL

BMW brings back its lightweight, race-ready M3… but with a different name

BMW M3 GTS

Massive Shouty Opening Line Alert: the BMW M3 CSL is back!

Only, it's not called the CSL. It's called the GTS, which is quite a good name, but not as good as the CSL.

But, in all but name, this is it: BMW's spiritual successor to the lightweight, legendary M3 CSL, unveiled at the SEMA show and set to go on sale in UK early next year, priced at just over £100,000.

Created primarily as a track-day special - but with the option for homologation for the road - the GTS is lighter and more powerful than the stock M3.

Around 155kg lighter and 30bhp more powerful, to be exact, giving a power-to-weight ratio of 300bhp per tonne.

That weight loss has been achieved by stripping the cabin down to its bare essentials: the GTS gets racing seats, carbon fibre trim and a notable absence of sound-deadening stuff, alongside a race-spec roll cage and proper six-point harnesses. The M3's air conditioning and sound system have been mercilessly ripped out, too.

The M3's 4.0-litre V8 has been just as heavily revised. Boosted in capacity to 4.4 litres, BMW's M-Division has treated the naturally aspirated engine to cast aluminium pistons, a stiffer crank case and a new wet sump. Though the exact figures are yet to be confirmed, this increases the V8's output to something in the region of 450bhp while retaining its high-revving character.

That extra power requires a muscled-up version of BMW's seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, which gets tougher clutch plates and more aggressive software mapping.

You'll have spotted the chunky new body kit, based on BMW's WTCC 3-Series and featuring an adjustable rear wing. Less obvious is the stiffer suspension set-up - complete with rear sub-frame - and a new set of race-spec brakes with fixed calipers front and rear.

So, £100,000 for a less comfortable, less useable, less refined M3? A bloody bargain, we'd say...

Sam Philip

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