The M3 CSL forged many firsts for BMW and the automotive industry as a whole. Here are a few technologically significant watermarks paved by the M3 CSL.
1. Carbon Fiber Roof
Commonplace in todays modern BMW's as well as many other car brands, the M3 CSL was the worlds first production car to feature a roof made entirely from Carbon Fiber. But BMW's M Division didn't stop with the there. They heavily implemented the use of carbon fiber and other F1 Inspired materials in the development of the CSL to determine the feasibility of its usage across the entire BMW brand for the new millennium.
Today, many car brands have the CSL to thank for ushering in the space age for cars.
2. Worlds Most Powerful Atmospheric Inline 6 Engine and BMW M's Last.
The M3 CSL's S54BH32HP engine had the highest output per liter of any production BMW engine. In fact, at 111 hp per liter, this is one of the most powerful naturally aspirated engines per liter ever developed for a production car.
This would be the M Divisions last iteration of their legendary naturally aspirated inline 6 engine. Marking an important moment for the automotive industry.
3. Michelin Invented the Pilot Sport Cup Tire specifically for the M3 CSL.
Michelin and BMW teamed up to develop a radical new motorsport inspired tire for for the M3 CSL. The result was the original Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tire. Michelin's first road approved Semi-Slick tire. It was so effective, that even Porsche decided to also use the tire for their benchmark GT3. It's another example of how the CSL brought true racing technologies to the consumer market.
The newly developed tire allowed the CSL to be the first production car to achieve 1.4g lateral acceleration and even held the Sport Auto Braking record for several years, an incredible achievement at the time.
4. First Production Car With Launch Control
BMW F1 Engineers helped program and fine tune the CSL's SMG II sequential manual gearbox. With faster gear changes, Rev matching down shifts and the worlds first official launch control feature in a production car, it was the closest thing to having a real Formula 1 gearbox in street legal car. Today almost every sports car offers these types of features.
Footnote: The regular (Non CSL) E46 M3 equipped with SMG II did in fact have a Beta version of launch control in its DME, however BMW never listed this as an official feature as its final iteration of Launch Control was still in development.
5. First BMW With Dedicated Traction Control Mode For The Racetrack.
From the race circuit to your garage...and back again.
The M3 CSL debuted M Track Mode, BMW's first use of a dedicated racetrack mode, allowing the driver greater ability to push the CSL to its cornering limits before the cars intervention. Upgraded with the new MK60 DSC Module, the CSL was able to run a less intrusive algorithm that varies the differential's slip that is permitted. This concept has made its way into all BMW M cars that followed, being known as M Dynamic Mode.
Additional Interesting CSL Facts:
* Upon presenting a Class C Racing License, BMW would remove the Top Speed Limiter that was software regulated at 155MPH.
* CSL buyers had to sign an acknowledgment form that explained that the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires didn't work in wet conditions and were hazardous if driven in the rain.
* The M3 CSL was faster around the Nurburgring than the Porsche GT3 of that time (996).