In the BMW kingdom, there are no more revered letters than ‘CSL.’ And out of all the cars that have been deemed worthy of wearing the “Coupé, Sport, Leichtbau” acronym, the most famous is the 1972 E9 3.0 CSL.

The ‘Bavarian Batmobile’ was a fire-breathing monster of a car, a homologation special designed to allow BMW to race in the esteemed European Touring Car Championship. And now, it’s back.

To commemorate fifty years of their performance M GmbH division, BMW has resurrected the 3.0 CSL nameplate and slapped it on the buttocks of a pig-nosed monstrosity. Oddly, from what I can gather, there isn't a single ‘M’ badge anywhere on the exterior of the car…

BMW’s decision to bring back the 3.0 CSL nameplate is borderline sacrilegious and akin to naming your child ‘Chuck Norris’. It’s a lovely sentiment, but it's also a surefire way to destine the child for failure, such is the weight of expectation associated with the name.

PR hogwash aside, 3.0 CSL is essentially a rear-wheel drive M4 CSL with a 6-speed manual gearbox, slightly more power from its 3.0-litre straight-six engine (412kW/560hp vs 405kW/550hp) and, oddly, much less torque (550Nm/406lb-ft vs 650Nm/406lb-ft ). And despite having an “intelligent lightweight construction” with carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer components on “virtually all bodywork sections” it’s barely any lighter than the M4 CSL (circa 1620kg). Underwhelmed? I am. Especially when you consider the rumoured price is somewhere between €600,000 to €700,000 (AUD$923,610 to $1.07 million).

Yes, they’re only making fifty of them, and, yes, the body panels are hand-made, but that is a ludicrous amount of money for a glorified 4-series in a tacky frock. I happen to think there are better ways to spend such cash. Here are five cars you could buy for the (rumoured) price of the new BMW 3.0 CSL:

1. 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S (≈AUD$300,000)

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is an appalling car. Its interior looks like a chintzy backyard DIY job and it was assembled in a shed in Warwickshire by a company whose primary KPI for the last century has been to not go bankrupt. Which they have. Seven times.

Then there is its gearbox. Whereas the previous non-S Vantage came equipped with a manual gearbox, the V12 Vantage S was only available with an abysmal 7-speed automatic. It's so slow that I can only presume the car sends a fax to the gearbox when you pull one of the paddles requesting a gear change.

And yet, when you open the taps and allow the Vantage S's sonorous 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12 to sing, all those bugbears melt away. It is beautifully balanced, too. Unlike most Astons from yesteryear that wilt when tipped into a corner, the Vantage S relishes the opportunity to dance. Looks good, too.

2. 2019 MINI Cooper JCW GP (≈AUD$80,000)

In a way, the Cooper JCW GP is MINI’s 3.0 CSL. It was produced in limited numbers (3000), expensive (was $63,900, now ≈$80,000+), and looks utterly juvenile with its carbon-composite panels and picnic bench-spec rear wing.

Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, the GP produces a whopping 225kW and dispenses it all through the front wheels. Top speed? 265km/h. In a car the size of a matchbox. Pack a spare change of pants.

For less money, you could have the superb Honda Civic Type R, an objectively superior car in every conceivable way. And yet, I would still have the MINI because it looks like my six-year-old self’s hot hatch fantasy.

3. Mazda MX-5 (AUD$37,990)

The Mazda MX-5 is not a slow-burn sort of car. It’s an intoxicating hit of excitement injected straight into your bloodstream. The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine buzzes like a hive of mechanical bees and revs to a riveting 7500rpm redline. The steering is beautifully weighted. The suspension is wonderfully compliant. It is just about perfect.

Everyone needs a Mazda MX-5 in their life. It is a magical, joyous thing that proves money can buy happiness.

4. 2009 Ferrari 458 Italia (≈AUD$500,000)

Did I spend half the budget on a crusty Italian supercar? Yes. Yes, I did.

Even after more than a decade since its release, the Ferrari 458 remains an achingly pretty piece of Pininfarina design that sounds like the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Enough said.

5. 2010 BMW 1-Series M (≈AUD$80,000)

The 1-Series M is the best BMW of the last twenty years. No, it doesn’t have a dedicated M engine (it shared its 250kW 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six with the hairdresser-special Z4) and its interior is about as hospitable as a Mongolian tent, but it matters not.

What makes the 1M so beguiling is that it has something few cars have: a story.

Created by a team of feverish engineers in their off-time, the 1M is a skunkworks project that somehow received the green light for production. Franco Columbo-rivalling, steroidal, square body; manual gearbox; a reputation for bruising egos –it reads like the stuff of dreams. Except it isn't a dream. It exists and can be purchased for just $80,000. It would be a bargain at twice the price.

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