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CSL nameplate set to return to BMW

Light it up: Stripped-out M models wearing the CSL badge are set to return to BMW’s performance range, likely starting with a hardcore version of the M2.

Four-tiered M car range topped by hero CSL planned by BMW Australia

3 Nov 2017

BMW is readying the resurrection of its iconic CSL nameplate as a range topper to its full-blooded M cars, although which models will receive the flagship treatment, and exact timing, is still under wraps.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new-generation X3 crossover, BMW Australia product communications manager Adam Davis revealed that some – not all – incoming M cars will be available in four different flavours.

“The future M product direction is going to be up to four tiers, so it’s not going to be across everything we (do),” he said.

“For example, X5 M CSL doesn’t really make sense, but you can look towards a return to selective CSL models in future.

“Something smaller might work better.

“But you’ll see a structure being – we’ll use M4 as an example – M4, M4 Competition, M4 CS, M4 CSL, not saying there will be an M4 CSL because it’s getting close to the end of the lifecycle, but in a future generation that’s how an M product line-up might look.”

The CSL nameplate was first used in 1972 to denote a homologation special coupe and stands for Coupe Sport Lightweight.

More recently, the CSL treatment was applied to the E46 M3 in 2004 with a limited-run of 1400 vehicles produced that did away with sound deadening, air conditioning and electric seats to keep weight to a minimum.

Rumours have also been circulating that a hardcore, stripped-out M2 CSL is in the works since mid-year, but Mr Davis would not be drawn on which M models will be first to receive the new flagship variant.

Similarly, the CSL nomenclature returning to the M3/M4 siblings is highly likely when the high-performing sedan and coupe arrive in next-generation guise, while it remains unclear if the lightweight philosophy will make sense on the larger M5 and M6 pair.

As for the X5 and X6 M performance SUVs: “(BMW M performance division chief executive) Frank van Meel has said you’re not going to strip out an SUV and call it a CSL,” revealed Mr Davis. “I don’t think that would actually work for the heritage of the brand.”

Some Australian M cars – including the M2, M3, M4 and discontinued previous-generation M5 – are also available in Pure guise, a local market-specific offering that has a chance to continue forward according to Mr Davis.

“Pure is an Australian initiative, so that’s something that we assess on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

“The enthusiasts amongst us said you could go down two options with the Pure.

“You could de-spec it like what an M5 (F10) was, or we keep the dynamism and we keep the power and we maybe say ‘you can buy an M4 with your Harmon/Kardon, with your leather dash’ or ‘you can have this one if you just want the dynamics but you don’t mind if the seats have cloth inserts’.

“And the feedback we’re getting from that already has been fantastic.

“That’s something we’d love to continue to do, and the local editions like the (M140i) Performance Edition and things like that make a lot of sense in small numbers for us.”

However, when asked if the expansion of M models could encroach into the territory of the brand’s other sportscar, the incoming successor to the Z4 convertible, Mr Davis said there would be no overlap.

“With the open-top stuff, they’ve always been a genre of themselves,” he said.

“Very different price points, spec levels and power outputs … Z4 is specific as a roadster, built as a roadster.

“M4 (Convertible) gives you that option, but its main core engineering was as a coupe.”

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