The new BMW 3.0 Csi, a 2+2 Coupe with comfort, power and fuel injection.

(Road Test, April 1972. USA.)

(We were so impressed by the BMW 3.0 CS that we eagerly accepted an offer to do a complete road test in Germany on the fuel injected version of this outstanding coupe – EDITOR)

   BMW is certainly not the factory to rest on its considerable laurels. Hence the 3.0 CSi, with emphasis on that final small I for injection.

   The Bavarians already had a six-cylinder Coupe of outstanding smoothness and performance but this was apparently not enough for their Olympic tastes. (In Munich in 1972 the Olympic Games took place – BV.) Now Munich offers the even keener buyer that same basic car going still quicker.

   If the price of approximately $9,000 seems a trifle steep, remember that we are speaking here of 0 – 100 mph in barely 20 seconds, a top speed of 135 mph, deluxe accommodation for two plus all their fur coats and probably the most cultivated high-tune inline six in motordom.

   Put another way: the CSi will hold even with a lighter, louder and more cramped Porsche S to 75 from a stand-still and run down the freeway at 100 with less noise than a super sedan. Yet it costs less.

   Munich’s latest engine permutation is the real news of this test since the Coupe shape proper goes clear back to their two-liter, four-cylinder days despite those clean, current-seeming if rather teutonic lines. It has been known in six-cylinder form since the 2500/2800, while BMW has tried to keep pace with power through chassis improvements.

   Thanks to some 230 SAE-hp on tap at 5500 rpm the single-overhead cam mill with tri-sphere combustion chambers has life on a string even if the car does weigh more than a ton and a half and presents a bluff front to the winds. Thanks to seven main bearings and twelve crankshaft weights it will soar to the 6400 red line without even interrupting your radio.

   Long-range cruising revs are pegged at 6000 rpm, still good for 125 mph, mile in and mile out, while 3rd gear takes you over 100 at the red line to leave the laggards panting.

   Small wonder every third BMW sold is a six. In fact these expensive BMW machines now hold over a quarter of the German six-cylinder market in the face of establishment Mercedes and much-cheaper sixes from Opel or German Ford. BMW deserves such success if only for the ease with which a 3.0 CSi achieves these standards.

   After all they are extracting better than 11% more power from a CSi than the same-size carburetor engine produces. Yet it peaks 500 rpm lower on the scale. Bosch electronic injection has a good deal to do with this, as does a 0.5 increase in compression.

   Injection has much to do with the wide useable rev band too of course but it doesn’t hurt that this engine produces a full 230 ft-lbs of torque though that does appear 600 rpm higher at a still viable 4300.

   Yet the engine was a cinch to start with first turn of key – hot or cold – if you simply remember to stay off the throttle on chilly days, use half pedal when the engine is hot.

   What’s more it can be lugged around all day in top gear, pulling less than 2000 rpm without a stutter or dampened spark plug. Naturally enough for the level of tune, it will perform with far more verve if you keep it above 3000 rpm in each gear but that news is only vital for boy racers. For most drivers it is sufficient that there is a reserve of surge in any gear, at just about any speed.

   Ratios are well spaced and shifted by a stubby lever atop the thick tunnel. This doesn’t like to be slammed about but will notch into each cog cleanly if you use a little compassion.

   Braking has been brought up to the car’s speed level with internally-vented discs at all four corners and dual circuits laid out so that one line to the front wheels can fail and still leave four-wheel braking of 75% effectiveness.

   Wide alloy wheels come with the BMW flagship, mounting low-profile radial tires which seem to hang on to something near eternity, wet roads or dry. A limited slip differential is welcome, particularly in winter.

   Suspension is one of those good BMW mixes of comfort and control. The driver feels virtually no roll as the car approaches fast bends on initial understeer. A good progressive throttle linkage then allows you to hang the tail out gently and at just about any angle desired. Part of this sympathetic handling comes from a front end geometry which gives slight negative camber to the outside front wheel.

   All this is controlled by a big – perhaps too big – leather steering wheel connected to servo which makes parking a lady’s game despite the fat tires.

   I would like a hair less steering boost above 100 though the car generally ignores side winds and wavy surfaces. Their first-rate shock absorber balance means that a CSi is almost as fast down pot-holed gravel farm tracks as on main highways, provided you give the wheel a little freedom to play on its own near the limits.

   Despite near-sport car handling, comfort is the BMW’s best bag, at least up front where well-dished cord seats have excellent range and rake adjustment. Support is so good belts are superfluous as an aid to fast cornering without flying about.

   Rear space is another story despite the bucketed seats for two. Provided your driver likes to sit with arms even comfortably outstretched there is simply no rear leg room. This is hardly surprising in what is basically a 2+2 on a brief 94-in. wheelbase.

   Front seat backs are released by levers easily operated from outside the car. However the passenger seat in our test machine had such a weak catch you could slam it forward without using the release.

   There is ample trunk space, even for four, though the flat shape takes best to soft luggage. What’s more the well-trimmed trunk offers a partitioned bin to keep the odd small items from sliding about plus a rich tool kit set into the trunk lid.

   Small storage inside the car is spread all over. For a start two bins drop out of the dash (assuming you have strong fingernails). The driver’s is about glove size, and hides the odometer reset in case you wondered.

   Then you have an open cave on the central console and two thin flip-out door pockets. Finally there is a shelf across most of the dash with high, padded lip and cross strips to keep small items from sliding under all that possible lateral g action.

   Instrument totality is not outstanding in the CSi though the dials they do provide are easily read. We’d like a good deal more supplementary information than merely fuel level (commendably large tank) and water temperature. “Idiot lights” for all other matters don’t suit the class.

   Switches proved a mixed lot with some obviously added to the old 2000 Coupe dash where they happened to fit or wouldn’t stumble over modern safety regs.

   For instance, they use flush push-buttons for the heated rear window, four-way emergency flashers and built-in rear fog lamp. Each has its own color and when the relevant item is turned on they protrude slightly. To find them originally you have to play it by feel/luck or lie on the floor and look up.

   On the other hand there is a wand at the right finger tips which works both a high-pressure washer and a hesitation wipe stage. A knob on the console behind the shift selects two further wiper speeds. Leave it in either position and you still switch that off/on with the wand. The wipers proper though are next to useless above 100 despite an airfoil on the driver’s wiper arm.

   Electric rear windows are standard, those in the doors an extra, with all four switches on the console ahead of and alongside the shift lever. (“standard” or “optional” here refers to European deliveries – as would a comment on the four outstanding halogen headlights.)

   As an indication of the Coupe’s basic age, the two door windows don’t slide clear down which can be a pain in the elbow on hot days. General vision from the car is surprisingly good, considering that same age, with the tail barely in view for tall drivers. Rounded corners must be judged but there are rubber buffer strips in the bumpers.

   Taken in sum you can bicker about small items but it is well nigh impossible to dislike this car. BMW was aiming at the niche between pure sport machines and luxury sedans. A 3.0 CSi has the performance of the former with the quiet comfort of the latter.

   With no exaggeration it is the car which sets a standard for all grand tourers.


BMW 3.0 CSi 2+2 COUPE



182.1 cu in., injected
single OHC inline six

Bore & stroke

3.50 x 3.15 ins.

Compression ratio

9.5 to one


230 (SAE gross) at 5500 rpm


230 lbs-ft at 4300


4-speed, manual


4 turns, lock to lock
34.5 ft, curb to curb


Disc front, disc rear


Spring leg, arm front
Spring leg, trailing arm rear


195/70 VR 14

Dimensions (ins.):



Rear track




Ground clearance






Front track



3042 lbs



18.5 gals


6.3 qts


12.6 qts


15.9 cu ft

* Power assisted as tested





   0-30 mph

3.1 secs 1st

   0-45 mph

4.6 secs 1st, 2nd

   0-60 mph

7.3 secs 1st, 2nd

   0-75 mph

10.5 secs, 1st-3rd

   0-1/4 mile


Ideal cruise

100-110 mph

Top speed

135.4 mph

Stop from 60 mph


Average economy (city)

14 mpg

Average economy (country)

18+ mpg

Fuel required


Oil changes (miles)


Lubrication (miles)


Warranty (mos./miles)

12 / 12,000

Type tools required


U.S. Dealers

250 total