Here’s a Christmas cracker for you: I love the BMW M4 CSL as a static object. Yes, honest. It looks like a joke but it isn’t. It may still be a bit chunky, and clasped to perfection, but I love all the little details that make it stand out. And in a shot like the one we prepared for our favorite annual ride this year – that is, more photographer-friendly than driver-friendly – there’s plenty of time to take them all in, from the stunning Le Mans-yellow laser shines up front down to the titanium exhaust’s color spectacle.
The engine bay strut is a work of art (the carbon hood itself is also beautiful), the negative front camber is sassy, the wheels themselves are beautifully polished, the bare fender in the trunk is weird but cool, and I even grow to appreciate the integrated spoiler. The CSL probably isn’t what you’d call knit in the same way its perfect M3 predecessor might have been, but the longer you look at it in the freezing cold, the more you appreciate how much effort went into it. Those who dismiss CSL as simply more promotion, more labels and more money can’t be wrong.
Brecon in December is not the right environment for this ultimate M4, however, I’ll concede on that. It’s not perfect for any of the five cars bundled, to be honest (okay, maybe one – but more for those days to come). Most are so pissed off at Sunday’s ski conditions, and in the case of the M4, it’s so big, too, that it bats cat-eyes to get away from the ice that lies on the edge. It sounds ridiculously powerful, too, with the bore-hole turbines (now at 2.1 bar pressure instead of 1.7) loving thick cool air and making the power delivery feel a bit more turbocharged than usual. Which is very exciting. I’d be damned if this produced much less than 600 horsepower—the M4 CSL is an absolute beast.
However, despite the not-so-ideal weather, he shows real precision. To the CSL’s credit, this isn’t a rocky off-road racer next to a public highway, even if it never felt at home in Wales. If you want a pure daytime car, get the Radical. While the standard M4 will probably suffice for most people. But for those who really want to get the most out of any ride, in any situation, without being overwhelmed by noise or effort, the new CSL is really convincing. The way he directs, lighter and cleaner but more direct and sensual than usual, means every corner feels more pleasing; Ceramic brakes are even stronger decelerating with less weight.
And if you’ll excuse not to go for a journalist driving a full-on drift car in the snow, the way the assistants measure just the right amount of power to balance entertainment and security really feels as clever as anything this side of a Ferrari. The way the CSL communicates with the person who is placed in that sweet bucket seat (I even love the light-up part) is really something. And with the titanium tubes channeling every twist of the course, along with the systems’ intelligent input, it exudes plenty of confidence. I can very well see how believing in everything you do contributed to that amazing time at the Nürburgring. Rarely do these big, heavy cars generate so much confidence.
Besides, I like CSL more than I did on my first drive, which is always a good sign. This means there’s more to learn and discover over time, rather than a car giving up everything at the first push of the throttle. The more I drive it, the more I want to keep going – and I still do. There’s some proper straight-six rasp to be appreciated when the exhaust button is turned off, it really covers the distance very well, the grain clicking in the arches to reverberate into the vast cavern behind them like the best stripped-down specials. There is a lot more depth and refinement to this experience than people on the internet will tell you.
That’s why the M4 CSL in Welsh winter reminded me of another car: the Nissan GT-R. Also big, too heavy, and also dismissed by some as too chubby to be a truly satisfying driver’s car. But with expert tuning and some very cutting-edge technology, both the CSL and GT-R properly absorb the effortless, effortless six-cylinder sports cars to get the best out of. There was even a huge increase in power over an iconic ancestor from many years before it was shared between them. I love the CSL as much as I love the GT-R, with the combination of a furious 600-horsepower twin-turbo engine, incredible mass management and helping to properly enhance the experience. They both even have gearboxes that I wish were a little better.
Granted, the CSL is vulnerable: by its price, by its looks, by recalling the 1700kg BMW CSL. But there are so many conflicting cars out there that they seem great despite their flaws, and that’s the key I think to enjoying (and loving) the M4. There’s a lot of baggage attached to the tricolor and its 50th anniversary When we’re caught up in what a CSL should be—what an M car should be, we might have overlooked the fact that the M4 is just a well-rounded car. It may not be what you think a CSL should be, or what a £130,000 BMW should be, but it’s a fine driver’s car. And that’s good enough for me.
Specifications | BMW M4 CSL (G82)
engine: 2,993 cc, twin-turbocharged straight-six
Delivery: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 551 @ 6250 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 479 @ 2,750-4,950 rpm
0-62 mph: 3.7 seconds
maximum speed: 191 mph
Weight: 1700 kg (EU, with driver, standard manual seats)
CO2: 225 g / km
price: £125,955 (price as standard; price as tested £126,950 comprising BMW M 50 year badging for £300, BMW Individual Paint for £695 and M Carbon Bucket Seat Comfort Pack (electric memory seats, power seats M Carbon bucket, heated front seats (as a no-cost option)
As cars—both combustion and battery powered—get closer to perfection, so those somewhat flawless cars inevitably become more endearing. It would be hard to recommend the bona fide DBX 707 to the average average SUV buyer, because the interior isn’t good enough and the gearbox is often underwhelming. But my goodness, as a car for the taste of driving experience, it really doesn’t come out much better than the most powerful SUV in the world. Later. The way Aston’s disparate elements merge into one satisfying look, and a total bonus would be impressive in a saloon that’s half a ton lighter. An SUV’s ability to steer, brake, and handle acceleration like this is a borderline miracle. In addition to being wondrously capable, he is also extremely entertaining, always able (and willing) to put a smile on your face. That could be the furious clatter of the legendary twin-turbo V8 (or the sheer speed of the thing), the flawlessly rated ride even on huge wheels or the sheer inconsistency of one of the best rated Astons ever being a four-door. A four-wheel drive vehicle with four seats. Whatever it is, I’m a fan. It’s crazy, bad, and gorgeous, the 707 can go from inspiration to fury in a second, ensuring it’s nothing if not utterly memorable. In other words, a proper Aston Martin.
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