From the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
A tour around the BMW M4 CSL is all you need to shape it. With its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tires, prominent ducktail spoiler and deep front splitter, the CSL is clearly a track-focused Thoroughbred. That impression continues inside, with an empty space where the rear seat used to be and standard carbon-fiber front buckets that move front and rear but require an Allen wrench for any angular or height adjustments. Lift the hood and you’ll realize it’s an immaculately built hunk of carbon fiber (as is the trunk), with the stripes on top being the only unappealing swathes that show through. A plastic engine cover blocks your view of the 543-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, but the exquisite birdcage brace connecting the radiator core supports, strut towers, and firewall deserves its own Instagram post.
On the test track, the synchronization of the engine and transmission of the launch control is not fully baked. We gained a few tenths of a second by going full Skywalker and switching off launch control, regulating wheelspin with our right foot and manually pulling the upshift trigger.
Still, the 3.3-second 60-mph result beats the M4 Competition xDrive and its improved all-wheel-drive launch by a half-second. The setback is temporary. Drop your foot in it, and the CSL pulls to 100 mph in an even 6.9 seconds, then pulls along well after that, hitting 120 mph in just 9.5 seconds and 150 mph in just 15.4 ticks runs from
The Cup 2R tires completely take down the CSL to the tune of 1.10 g’s around the skidpad. But the Bimmer’s 148-foot stop from 70 mph is only two feet better than the M4 competition xDrive. However, from 100 mph, the CSL’s 278-foot stop outstrips the xDrive by a full 24 feet. Put them all together and it’s no wonder this bad boy clocked 2:47.5 on the Lightning Lap (where 60 mph means very little) to become the fastest BMW around the place.
But that doesn’t mean having a damn good time on California’s canyon roads is less than racetrack smooth. The car has difficulty reducing power if there’s a slouch exiting a corner, and it hates exiting tight hairpins, where the echoes of its transmission hesitation make its presence known. Despite being 1483 pounds more overweight, a BMW i4 M50 we took through the same section strikes us as being more agile and compliant, as well as quicker from point to point. The CSL feels a bit more connected when the corners are smooth and flowing, and the powerful brakes never let up when you’re charging back downhill through tight sections. But this BMW is never a grin machine.
You must endure the drive home after the adrenaline has worn off. The CSL tramlines like a slot car. Fixed buckets become a real pain. And the ride is so unforgiving that even the softest mode is the definition of a head toss. Lastly, we’d really prefer a cupholder over a wireless phone charger, especially since the seat’s awkward central ridge makes the old-school thigh-clamp method untenable.
Track focus can go too far.
2023 BMW M4 CSL
Vehicle Type: Front-Engine, Rear-Wheel-Drive, 2-Passenger, 2-Door Coupe
Base/as tested: $140,895/$145,395
Option: Frozen Brooklyn Gray Metallic Paint, $4500
Twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183 in32993 cm3
Power: 543 HP @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 479 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
Suspension, F/R: Struts/Multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.7-in vented, cross-drilled carbon-ceramic discs/15.0-in vented, cross-drilled carbon-ceramic discs
Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R
F: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y)★
R: 285/30ZR-20 (99Y)★
Wheelbase: 112.5 Inch
Length: 188.7 inches
Width: 75.6 inches
Height: 54.6 Inches
Trunk Volume: 12 ft3
Curb Weight: 3580 lb
CD Exam Results
60 mph: 3.3 sec
100 mph: 6.9 seconds
1/4-mile: 11.2 sec @ 131 mph
130 mph: 11.1 sec
150 mph: 15.4 seconds
The above results leave a 1-ft rollout of 0.3 seconds.
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed (MFR claimed): 191 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 148 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 278 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft. Skidpad: 1.10 g
CD fuel economy
Seen: 17 mpg
EPA Fuel Economy
Combined/City/Highway: 18/16/23 mpg
CD test explained
Dan Edmonds was born into the world of the automobile, but not in the way you might think. His father was a retired racing driver who opened a race-car-building shop, Autoresearch, where Dan cut his teeth as a metal fabricator. Engineering school followed, then SCCA showroom stock racing, and that combination saw him suspend development work at two different automakers. His writing career began when he was picked up by Edmunds.com (no relation) to build a testing department.