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A hardcore version of the BMW M2 coupé is under development and looks set to bring the CSL nametag back to production for the first time since 2004.
The M2 CSL, due as a run-out model at the end of the current M2’s production life, will follow the form of the E46 M3 CSL with a stripped-out interior, bucket seats and weight-saving carbonfibre parts.
It will produce around 400bhp from a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine that’s likely borrowed from the M3 and M4. Sources believe this S55 unit will be used in detuned form rather than a highly strung version of the M2’s older N55 lump, due to the increased reliability and improved responses the newer technology enables.
Drive will still be sent exclusively to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Despite the performance benefits offered by the latter, market demand for driver-focused cars will ensure the manual remains standard.
BMW has been encouraged to produce the M2 CSL following sales for the regular model that have far exceeded predictions. BMW M vice president Dirk Hacker told Autocar that this is making special editions easier to justify, even in today’s uncertain economic climate.
“The M2 is tracking at 40-50% above our expectation in terms of sales, and demand for cars like the M2, or GTS and CS heritage models, is growing,” he said. “Any car that has true heritage to motorsport is an opportunity for us. New markets are always opening for those cars and that will increase, so long as we keep building cars that are sufficiently special.”
Our source dismissed rumours that the M2 CSL will arrive at the same time as the M2 facelift, which is due to go on sale next year. Development cars for that model have been spotted on the road and at the Nürburgring, showing minor aesthetic changes that will be applied to the car’s bumpers and lights. Larger brakes will also be fitted, suggesting more power could be extracted from the N55 engine.
The reintroduction of the CSL name to BMW’s line-up marks the end of the line for GTS models, leaving the M4 GTS as the final car to use the moniker. CSL was chosen due to its longer history, having first been used on a homologation special version of the CS, the 3.0 CSL, in 1972. The L was added to designate the car’s lighter weight.