04-12-2013, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Mein Auto: E46 M3 CSL
Chapter 7: The Interior
The summer driving season of 2012 is long gone. I have never categorized myself as a summer person, but this car has changed me. Now I realize that every day I am counting the days to when I can drive my CSL again. Legally, that day would be March 1st, since that is the day when summer tires are allowed again. However, there is so much snow here in Finland that I probably have to wait a couple of weeks still. And the wait is killing me!
So while I wait, I thought I’d make this post of my 2012 season. Most likely it won’t make the wait any less painful, but it brings back nice memories – and photographs.
Getting seated in the CSL is starting to be routine already. Open the long door, put one foot on the floor mat, be careful not to scratch the carbon fiber door panel, fall into the bucket seat, wonder how the seat belt can be so uncomfortably far to the back.
But there is one sensation that does not seem to fade away with time and that is the smell. Or actually, the lack of it. All other BMWs I have driven have had the smell of leather.
A related observation is the acoustics. Standing still, the car is very quiet, the soft cloth is much more sound damping than leather. However the carbon fiber door surfaces are hard, so there is a very unique reverberation in the car.
And then there is the incredible illusion of safety. The car feels rock solid and the seat allows very little freedom of movement. One gets the feeling that nothing bad can ever happen to the driver, there is a sense of being immortal.
And it ALL changes the second you start the engine. Suddenly, the car is full of sound and noise. And you just know that if you are going to exploit the capabilities of the car to the max, you – a mere mortal - will be putting your life on the line!
I still get a bit scared each time I roll the first meters in the car. And when I make the really sharp left to my driveway, the car jumps a bit. The turning radius and wheel angles don’t match 100% so some tension is created in the turn. In regular cars, the difference is absorbed by high profile tires and gentle tire slip. But with the CSL, there is so little flexibility and so much grip that the tension just keeps on accumulating until it is violently released, making the car jump into a slightly different position. Reminds me of how earthquakes quickly release the tension that has slowly built up over decades. The character of the car would be very different without the Cup tires.
An inviting picture of the interior of the car. There is something bright white in the part under the throttle pedal. I thought it looked a bit distracting in this picture and I actually did consider changing the shooting angle so that it would not be visible. But then I thought that if BMW put it there then it must serve some purpose so here it is. Does anyone know the function of this white part? Since everything else is grey and black, the iconic red needles in the instrument panel are also very prominent.
The carbon fiber door panels are beautiful. This picture illustrates the complex shape of the panel. I have no idea how bad the loudspeakers might be, because I have only used the sound system twice. To be honest, I should have bought a car that does not have it at all. But I wanted air-conditioning, and cars that come with air-conditioning typically also have the sound system. (For best racetrack performance, the CSL could be specified without any sound system or air-conditioning.)
There are lots of interior pictures of the M3 CSL in internet. But there are very few good ones. The reason for that became clear when I attempted to take one. The cloth simply does not photograph well. It took me one hour of work to brush the cloth so that it looks (relatively) neat in this picture.
And the same thing from the other side.
Although they are not very comfortable, the CSL does have back seats for two people. I love it that BMW has also included beautiful carbon fiber side panels there. Those panels are at risk every time the front seat belts are unbuckled, because if the belt is let go, it will hit the panel when it retracts. Seat backs fold down for extra trunk storage capacity. This is a surprising feature, but very useful for a photographer like myself, since photography equipment needs lots of space.
Here is a picture that you will not see every day. I would love to understand the design parameters that have resulted in a shape like this. Most likely, this part of the car must meet very demanding structural rigidity requirements. To look at the solution is awe-inspiring. German engineering!
And here is the hook on the door. The hook fits into the pit in the previous picture, providing extra stability in the case of a side collision. I think. I hope I never get to see these parts in action.
After all those interior shots, it is nice to end with an elegant exterior picture. I found the perfect place to park my M3.
Thanks for reading!