"In this Special Series about the CSL Redux Steering Wheel, I document my experiences sourcing 2x steering wheels from Germany and how it evolved into this new product.
In this new entry: I go full Porsche! I touch on the MK60 retrofit and I cheap out instead. I opted for the alternative in hopes of a simplified driving experience."
The E46 M3 saw various electronic improvements throughout production - it was a massive period of computing power increases and BMW M wanted to make the most of it.
They famously updated the DME with the CSL with the MSS54HP to support more calculations and features. I touched on this in the Special Series on the CSL airbox in the entry "A dilemma: Alpha N v MAP conversion".
In 2003, BMW M introduced the M-track steering wheel button to M world. It's the ancestor to M-Drive and MDM as we've got to know it on the E60 M5 and E92 M3, along with all following BMW M models.
In short, M-Track mode raised the thresholds to DSC intervention, raising the slip angles for drivers that enjoy a bit of sliding actions with safety nets.
The featured originated from the M3 CSL.
The MK60 module.
By September 2002, all E46 M3s came fitted with the latest MK60 DSC/ABS module. It was an extensive upgraded package including a new brake booster, a myriad of sensors and a new module.
It underpinned the new software changes for M-track mode. However, M-Track wasn't fitted to all production M3s from 2003 on. It was on the options' list except on CS/ZCP spec cars.
Still, it could be retrofitted for cheap on 09/2002 and up E46s with an upper trim swap, and a few software changes.
The pre-09/2002 retrofit.
I had to retrofit M-Drive on my E92 M3, although it was a ZCP, it didn't have iDrive and in Canada, that mean no M-Drive. I felt it was worth it considering the various software features it unlocks such as Servotronic, MDM and the extra Sport Plus throttle response.
On the E46? I don't think so at this current time. The MK60 retrofit is roughly 1,200 USD for used Genuine BMW hardware. I didn't see the value for it in the current context.
The restoration of the Phoenix is currently bleeding my dry, and choices need to be made. It needed a new set of 1,500 USD door seals recently, amongst an extra 2,000 USD in new door trims, mirror actuators and accessories.
Being a pre-LCI 2003 car, my E46 had the older MK20 DSC/ABS module. Maybe I'll revisit this in the future.
The Porsche way.
As a former P-car owner of a 987.2S PDK, my immediate urge was to remove the craptastic multi-function steering wheel. Porsche had made it worse by fitting buttons instead of shift paddles, and you could upshift/downshift on either side. It was ergonomically catastrophic.
Taken straight from the sales ad in 2015.
As with anything Porsche, everything is an option. My Cayman was well spec'ed as a Tourer, but had a few things missing for the driving experience.
I had retrofitted the Porsche Sport steering wheel on my 987.2S PDK as one of the first upgrades along with the Sport Plus functions, and a few Cayman R software changes.
The steering was a blank design - it had paddles, and subtle screens to indicate you were in Sport Plus and/or Launch Control modes.
They absolutely nailed the simplified driving experience - it was mostly all analog, except the PDK.
The E46 M3's cheap alternative.
The cheap alternative is ditching the multi-function upper trim and going for a 316d, Civic-spec, blank upper trim for the tinfoil conspiracists who bought into the Y2K conspiracies at the turn of the latest millennium.
All jokes aside, the trim isn't actually cheap, BMW wants +/- 300 USD for it. I sourced a few rare units from Europe instead.
You never know what you're getting with use trims, but these were mint.
The blank trims have a plug to put in a connector. I don't know why.
My lower trims are in worse shape.
Unplug the airbags, unbolt the lower trim, and slide it in!
Tadam! Slick, simple - no fuss. I like the aesthetics - whether I miss the buttons, we'll see once it drives.
I've been able to secure a stock of a few brand new BMW trims in Germany.
I have made the blank upper trim optional on the CSL Redux Steering Wheel.
Feel free to reach out to spec your steering wheel.