Digital or Analogue: BMW M4 vs M3 CSL

THE IDEA was as simple as it was brilliant. Grab one of the purest M cars BMW ever made, a 2003 M3 CSL, and throw it head to head with its newest descendent, the turbocharged M4.

The task: find out which is best.

On paper, it’s a walkover for the M4. The modern car is safer, more comfortable and light-years ahead for speed thanks to its 317kW/550Nm twin-turbo straight six. But numbers aren’t everything.

The M3 CSL has sweetness, playfulness and predictability the M4 just can’t replicate. And then there’s the noise it makes. The M4 can only dream of such raspy, high-pitched goodness.

So it’s digital v analogue. New v old on the road and the track. Watch the video to see which one wins, and tell us which one you’d prefer in the comments below.

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  • Do you think everyone wearing a Brietling is rushing out to buy an Apple watch?
  • BMW Australia bringing out the nostalgic e46 m3 csl to try generate enough interest to sell the latest version of the F80. Two different era's, the e4 m3 csl was prince behind the Porsches, but by todays standard of cars (notably the MB C63) the F80 is simply not good enough. Through into the equation BMW expansion of M models and the M3/M4 just lacks the panache of its predecessor.
  • @derek b i'd have to agree with you. I love my CSL and wouldn't trade it for to many other cars out there. It is just way to much fun to drive with that noise and once you learn never to use the auto-shifting of the SMG II its even usable in the city.
  • CSL allll day long, a purists drivers car with a throttle response too die for. The M4 is newer, faster and better built but cannot compete with the CSL for sound and most importantly driver satisfaction. One a road racer, one a fast road car.
  • ive got a csl and if someone offered a swap for a brand new m4 it would be NO, 10 years time and the csl will be silly money and the m4 bugger all.
  • I'd have the M3 CSL with the sweet engine note coming from under the bonnet not artificially piped through the speakers like in the M4. That's the work of the devil & aural blasphemy.