Who would have guessed that purchasing a new BMW 320i in 1982 would have led to a love affair with the brand, long-lasting friendships, and eventually the purchase of a one-year-only limited-production 2023 M4 CSL? Doug Verner may have grown up a Mopar guy in a Volkswagen family, but that all changed with his first BMW, a white-over-tan E21, in the early 1980s—and joining BMW CCA, of course.

After a brief stint with the Tejas Chapter, Verner relocated to the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area and became a member of the National Capital Chapter in 1983. In the early 2000s, he became an active volunteer, developing the M Club Days program, which he has run for the last 22 years, and also serving for a decade as NCC’s HPDE registrar. Verner says, “It’s fun getting involved. I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands, of people through the Club and I consider most of them friends.” With a passion for M cars, tons of on-track driving experience, and relationships forged within BMW CCA and the BMW Performance Center, Verner eats, sleeps, and breathes both CCA and M.

The M4 CSL came onto Verner’s radar while having lunch with friends at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He heard rumblings of a “top-secret” M4 that had been recently shown to BMW executives, prior to its official debut at the 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. It was a low-production model with only 1,000 units being made worldwide, and only 250 of those coming to the U.S. Being no stranger to special M cars, with a Z3 M Coupe, M2 CS, E46 M3, and X3 M Competition already in his stable, Verner’s interest was piqued. He called a dealer contact and was given an allocation—until he wasn’t. The dealer backed out late in the game, and with the M4 CSL already announced, all of the other allocations were gone.

Verner spent months searching for another M4 CSL until a friend and fellow CCA Member Mike Wah reached out. Wah had an M4 CSL allocation in Launch Package spec, at BMW of Wyoming Valley in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In Frozen Brooklyn Grey paint with one-piece fixed-back M Carbon Bucket Seats it was just what Verner wanted—at MSRP no less, where others were sold with a substantial markup. Wah offered his allocation to Verner and he graciously accepted. The icing on the cake was a Performance Center delivery. It’s possibly the only M4 CSL to be ordered with a Performance Center delivery in the U.S. and Verner credits friends Mike Renner and Clint Kimel, Jr. for their efforts, saying, “Mike and Clint were instrumental in getting it to the Performance Center and delivered to me.”

Since taking delivery, Verner has been very happy with his M4 CSL, which lives up to its “Coupe, Sport, Lightweight” badging. A 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder engine delivers 543 horsepower and 479 pound-feet—40 more horsepower than the M4 Competition thanks to maximum turbo boost being raised from 24.7 psi to 30.5 psi. The results of the S58 engine’s combustion exit through a model-specific titanium exhaust. 

Behold the glorious S58!

The CSL’s suspension is also model-specific, with an 8mm lower ride height and the use of monoball joints (instead of rubber bushings) in the rear suspension for sharper, more precise handling. With standard carbon brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, the M4 CSL is a precision instrument.

Even at only 5 mph on top of a parking garage, the M4 CSL looks fast.

And then there’s the weight. Carbon fiber is used extensively front to rear, comprising the hood, CSL-specific front splitter, roof, side mirrors, CSL-specific duck-tail trunk lid, rear splitter, and interior trim. The trunk is bare, without a floor mat or rear-seat trim. Lightweight manual-adjustment M Carbon Bucket seats replace heavy electric counterparts, and the rear-seat, center console, and floor mats have been removed to further shed pounds.

By now we know that BMW’s published specs tend to be on the conservative side of reality. Case in point: BMW claims a 240-pound weight reduction over the M4 Competition, but MotorTrend weighed the limited-edition CSL at 3,590 pounds—that’s quite a bit less, and less is more in this case! Additionally, M4 CSLs on independent dynos have been making close to 600 horsepower, much more than the advertised 543. BMW claims a 0-60 sprint of only 3.6 seconds, while real-world testing has proven its faster than, reaching the benchmark in only 3.3

Verner recalls, “The M4 CSL hasn’t even come out yet, but people are reading the numbers on it and saying, ‘This isn’t very much. They’re just saved a little bit of weight. They just add a little bit of power.’ So, the big complaint was that there’s not really a whole lot here for your extra money. It wasn’t until everybody got the car and started driving it that they realized, ‘This is really a pretty significant upgrade.’” Both Verner and instructors at the BMW Performance Center have driven this M4 CSL and an M4 Competition back-to-back and agree, saying “It’s tighter, sharper, more abrupt, and quicker. There’s just a significant difference to it.”

Verner believes that part of the enjoyment of owning these cars is to drive them—and with nearly 6,000 miles on the odometer he does just that. While his M4 CSL is mostly stock, he has made a few modifications for practicality (and some style). A set of stock-sized Michelin PS4S tires have replaced the Cup 2 Rs, and floor mats and a trunk mat have been added. The entire car has been wrapped in PPF and ceramic coated by Tiffany and Brett All American Paint Protection in Rockville, Maryland. Verner’s addition of red tow straps and red anodized underhood fluid caps pair nicely with the red accents on the carbon fiber, badging, and interior.

In addition to the trip home to Maryland from the Performance Center delivery in Spartanburg, Verner has appreciated this M4 CSL on a number of other road trips and regularly brings it to CCA events. Verner laughs, “If the car is worth five or ten thousand dollars less because I put a few extra miles on it, that’s what I bought the car for and it’s well worth my time.”

When Verner offered me an opportunity to drive his M4 CSL, I couldn’t pass up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience this monster for myself. The Frozen Brooklyn Grey paint was quite fitting on a frozen Maryland morning at sunrise. The fixed-back seats are somewhat of a challenge to get in and out of, but once you’re in, they’re fantastic. I could totally see taking a road trip in this car without having cramped legs or a stiff lower back upon reaching a rest area.

Believe it or not, they’re actually quite comfortable after you figure out how to sit in them.

The titanium exhaust changes tone, becoming more aggressive as the dial is turned past eleven—starting in Comfort, then in Sport, then in Sport Plus. The eight-speed ZF 8HP transmission shifts the instant you pull back on the steering-wheel-mounted carbon fiber shift paddles. The PS4S tires coupled with the CSL’s traction control performed quite well on frigid pavement. And as Verner warned, “It follows your eyes.” The steering is so sharp and immediate, it’s unlike anything I’ve driven before. Driving an M4 CSL is a full-sensory and exhilarating experience. To quote Ferris Bueller, “I love driving it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” But good luck finding one!

While some cars have come and gone from Verner’s garage, he says, “I feel honored to be able to have [the M4 CSL] and I have no plans of getting rid of it. This wasn’t a flip for me. This is a car that I hope to enjoy for many years to come.” And then he jokes, “As long as I can get in and get out of it.”

On paper, the M4 CSL may not seem so different from an M4 Competition. However, experiencing one in person—seeing it, hearing it, and most importantly, driving it—it’s clear to see that the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.—Mike Bevels




©2024 BimmerLife™

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?