2022 marks the 50th anniversary of M and aside from launching a wide array of exciting products, BMW's go-faster division is also going back in time. In recent weeks, the Bavarians refreshed our memory about how they once built an M3 CSL E46 with a V8 engine and a stripped-out M2 CSL F87. In addition, there were two larger Coupe Sport Lightweight one-offs, the M5 CSL E60 and M6 CSL E63. Yes, the M5 wasn't a coupe, but you get the idea.
Top Gear magazine spent some quality time with the M5 and M6 duo with its mighty V10 naturally aspirated engine. In the case of the sedan, BMW M's engineers bumped its displacement from the standard 5.0 liters to 5.4 liters to extract around 540 horsepower. You can tell it's not the regular E60 by looking at the license plate holder as it has a mesh pattern to cool down the beefier engine.
Few will remember, but BMW actually showed the M5 CSL back in October 2009 as part of the M division's 25th-anniversary celebrations. At that point, the Germans explained how they gave the car a bigger air box and a secondary oil cooler, not to mention a carbon fiber manifold and a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission instead of the dreaded SMG.
There are some contradicting reports about the displacement and power as some say it was a 5.5-liter unit that was making 580 hp. To earn its CSL moniker even though it was a sedan, the M5 CSL dropped 50 kilograms (110 pounds) from the standard car. The extra oomph and lower curb weight helped the super saloon lap the Nürburgring in less than eight minutes.
The M6 CSL was just as special, featuring the original iDrive and two buttons on the lower center console to trigger the active aero. The hugely controversial "Bangle Butt" incorporated an electrically deployable spoiler while the front section’s underside contained a flap for better aero. BMW also made the side mirrors a tad smaller for better airflow.
Being a CSL, this one too must've shed a lot of weight judging by the simplified door cards with awkwardly positioned switches for the electric windows and mirrors. Wrapped in Alcantara, the simplified center console also hinted at the M6 CSL's Draconian diet.
The CSL badge finally returned on a production model earlier this year with the M4 CSL, but the best is yet to come. A modern-day 3.0 CSL will be out by late 2022 as a more powerful M4 CSL with a manual gearbox and retro-flavored styling.