The M3 CSL is nearing mythical status these days. Never formally imported to the US (BMWNA didn’t think a 100k M3 would sell), it’s always remained just out of reach for those of us in North America. Luckily the BMW M2 Competition is much more accessible to us and, as Autocar found out, perhaps even more fun. But fun is just one metric that Autocar tested in this old vs new shootout.
On road or track, the balance of the CSL is astonishing, even if the steering ratio (quickened over that of the standard M3, from 15.4:1 to 14.5:1) still feels lazy compared with the darting M2. Admittedly, in this department both cars want a little for feel, but only in the low-slung CSL does it appear that your backside is resting on the rear differential while your hands clasp the front axle, with its widened track. Bulkier bodywork designed to meet crash standards and a better-stocked cabin mean that, for the M2, the feeling has been lost, and it’s never coming back. In the CSL, the extremities of the chassis seem to alter their trajectory as one. Unquestionably it is the more fluid chassis, though you can cover the length of a tennis court during the torque interruption prompted by an upshift from the SMG automated manual ’box.
It’s a great read for anyone looking to revisit the CSL and see how BMW M has progressed (or not) over the last 15 years.