Since its introduction in 1985, the BMW M5 has stepped on the toes of giants. Quicker than a supercar in a straight line and agile enough to keep up in the corners, but with enough room for a family, the M5 is a sports sedan swiss army knife. However, as the decades pass, raising that bar has required bending the laws of physics and morphing our perception of what a big-body sedan can do. With its latest attempt, BMW pushes these boundaries even further, producing the quickest and most powerful car ever.
It’s called the BMW M5 CS, which stands for “competition sport,” and it’s what you get when you take an M5 Competition, boost power, upgrade its suspension, and reduce weight. On the street, this car is nothing short of an apex predator. No Lamborghini, Ferrari, or McLaren is safe on a canyon road. After a week behind the wheel, numerous minor changes add up to a driving experience that confirms that the M5 CS is BMW M at its best.
The “standard” BMW M5 is already a distinctive sedan with its flared wheel arches, quad exhaust tips, and aggressive body lines. The M5 CS dials things up by focusing on the details. Bronze finished details replace the typical chrome bits around the kidney grilles, side markers, and badges. These complement a set of standard 20-inch forged wheels wearing the same shade of paint.
Unlike the standard car, the CS is only available in three finishes, Brands Hatch Gray Metallic, Frozen Deep Green Metallic, and Frozen Brands Hatch Gray Metallic. Our matte gray tester absorbed light beautifully, which made it a peach to photograph and allowed all of its bronze details to shine. To the untrained eye, it’s just another fast BMW, but those who pause for a closer look can quickly tell they’re looking at the special one.
The M5 CS isn’t just marginally lighter than an M5 Competition. Its 230-lb diet is significant. This is mainly due to the extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Large items such as the hood, front splitter, rear diffuser, and roof feature the material utilizing a mixture of the body color and unpainted carbon fiber. Alone the changes are small, but together they add up to significant weight savings.
In front, the headlight design remains the same. However, the CS gets LEDs that feature yellow accents during the day and switch to white at night. While BMW cites these lights as “racing-inspired,” their true benefit is how well they match up with the car’s plentiful bronze accent pieces.
You’d be wrong if you thought BMW was done adding bronze pieces. That’s because the quad-exhaust setup also features the color and genuinely shines in the sunlight. BMW could’ve easily slapped a CS badge on a normal-looking M5, but their extensive changes add up to a sports sedan that looks truly unique.
While the BMW M5 CS is a lovely thing to look at, it’s far better to drive. As mentioned in the intro, it’s the brand’s quickest and most powerful production vehicle ever. Its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 delivers a supercar-slaying 627 horsepower and 553 foot-pounds of torque. It puts that power down to all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and a rear-biased AWD system. As it fully uses its output, it sprints to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and continues onto a top speed of 190 mph.
The CS feels even quicker on the road than its stats suggest. Peak torque comes at a very low 1,800 rpm, allowing you to rocket out of corners and instantly pick up the pace on the open road. Turbo lag remains virtually nonexistent as the M5’s engine remains eager to rev. As you work your way up the RPMs, those quad exhaust tips start to sing their guttural, although thanks to over insulation, most of what you get inside the cabin comes through the car’s speakers.
In 4WD Sport mode, the M5 CS sends most of its power to the rear wheels with minimal to the front. The grip is immense. Unlike some of its closest competitors, it doesn’t default to understeer as you test its limits. Switch over to 2WD, and all power goes to its back wheels, allowing the rear to rotate when provoked.
Our tester benefitted by not having the optional Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, which have historically needed quite a significant pace to get up to temperature. Instead, it wore a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S shoes that delivered all the on-road drivability and grip required for a quick canyon drive.
Aside from just clinging on for dear life, the M5 CS remained totally planted and neutral as we chucked it into corners. Despite tipping the scales at 4,114 lb, body roll was virtually nonexistent. BMW’s main improvements for the CS include 10 percent stiffer springs, 0.2-in lower ride height, increased front negative camber, and firmer anti-roll bar and toe link ball-joint mounts. The result is a car has incredible front-end agility. Point and the CS will follow.
However, like many modern sports sedans, this is a double-edged sword. The M5 CS is a massively capable machine, but it’s a victim of its success. It’s so easy to drive at brain-melting speeds that there isn’t much driver involvement. Sure its steering is heavy, but it doesn’t communicate much, and with Mercedes S-Class levels of sound isolation, there isn’t much natural sound for your ears either. You don’t wrestle this car around corners. You’re more so along for the ride.
Thankfully, when it’s time to stop, the M5 CS serves up tons of stopping power from its standard carbon ceramic brakes. They may take a bit to warm up, but once they’re up to temperature, there’s a solid initial bite that doesn’t let up. Thanks to generous pedal travel, they’re easy to modulate as well. Even around town, they don’t prove too eager to stop. Despite their high performance, they’re more than up to daily duties.
So far, the M5 CS has proven a capable canyon carver, but it hasn’t forgotten its luxury sedan nature. Around Los Angeles, even its stiffened suspension soaked up bumps, well, all things considered. Perhaps even better than the X4 M Competition we tested a few months ago. Leave it in its normal mode, and this large executive supercar hunter is equally happy on a drive to the office as it is up in the canyons.
Inside, the BMW M5 CS sets itself apart as it’s the only model variant to feature four bucket seats. Although you lose one seat in the second row, all your passengers will remain in place as you pick up the pace. Surprisingly, even these aggressive chairs proved more comfortable in the CS than in the M4 Competition we tested a few weeks ago. The larger door opening makes ingress and egress old-folk-friendly. While they’re still stiff as rocks, they’re tolerable for a quick daily drive.
Just like with the exterior finish, the CS’ cabin features few available options. All cars feature a combination of black leather and Alcantara with contrasting red accents. Like the exterior, there’s plenty of carbon fiber reinforced plastic in the dashboard, center console, door cards, and on the seats themselves. At no point does the CS let you forget you sprung for the special model, a major upside considering its price tag. More on that later.
The rest of the cabin is standard M5. You get the same digital instrument cluster, infotainment screen, and smartphone connectivity (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.) Since the base car nails these basics and build quality is on par for the segment, there’s not much to report here. If anything, we wish BMW had taken a Porsche 911 R approach and removed sound deadening to increase driver involvement. For those looking for a purely luxurious experience, there’s the standard M5, but this is the CS. Let it have its own personality.
The 2022 BMW M5 CS has a base price of $142,00 plus $995 for destination charges. However, they’re limited to one model year, and they’re all sold as the model year comes to a close. According to BMW, there isn’t a limited number of these cars out there, so we’ll have to wait and see just how many they actually produced. Given the limited amount of available options, our tester has an as-tested price of $148,995.
The more miles we racked up on our M5 CS tester, the clearer it was just how much of an engineering achievement it was. As a sports sedan, it is a master class on how to build a capable supercar slayer. It’s quick, composed, and outrageously easy to drive. It is a genuine canyon carver despite its size and weight. The CS is light on its feet in ways its competitors aren’t.
However, as a driving experience, the M5 CS isn’t as electrifying as we had hoped. Given its clever suspension updates and extensive use of lightweight materials, we really expected this car to set our hair on fire. All things considered, though, the M5 CS achieves precisely what it sets out to do, deliver tons of performance for the price with on-road capabilities that’ll leave exotic car buyers wondering why they spent so much just to see the CS’ tail lights.