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BMW M5 CS 2022 review

 

BMW’s M5 super-sedan gets its first-ever Competition Sport version – and we’ve hammered it down Autobahns and up Italy’s Stelvio Pass. It’s blissful


Good points

  • Heroic handling attributes…
  • …yet it has a supple ride
  • Strong twin-turbo V8
  • Supportive carbon seats
  • Relative value for money
  • Exclusivity

Needs work

  • Small allocation, all sold
  • High-maintenance paint
  • Seat base is a tight fit
  • Low front carbon lip
  • Fuel consumption

Whether the F90 BMW M5 CS is the finest version of the BMW M5 super-sedan ever to exist depends on your priorities. Many diehards – myself included – still idolise either the first-of-breed E28 or the nineties-hero E39 as Munich’s archetypal M-fünf – suckers for punishment might even say the V10 E60. Still, the only release to wear Bayerische Motoren Werke’s respected Competition Sport badge makes a dramatic case for its supremacy.

Offered for sale briefly in early 2021, just 20 examples of the G30-LCI M5 CS were offered to Australian buyers, each at a price of $305,900 before on-road costs. The entire score of local-bound CS sold within days, with Chasing Cars understanding loyal M5 collectors picked up the majority.

BMW M5 CS 2022 front end

The entire – albeit modest – Australian allocation of M5 CS was distributed to customers with BMW Australia declining to add one to its heritage fleet that also includes a Z8, E34 M5, E46 M3 CSL and an F82 M4 GTS.

In future years it wouldn’t surprise us if Mulgrave tries to buy an M5 CS back, because there is little doubt this is the most special super-sedan BMW has ever built, showcasing the very best of chest-beating combustion-powered capability from the brand – immense brawn all wrapped in the M5’s signature velvet glove.

Beneath one of two matte paint colours – the signature frozen deep green as tested, or frozen Brands Hatch grey – sits a 467kW 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 engine, fortified eight-speed torque converter automatic, and a selectable four-wheel drive system – as well as what BMW labels “judicious modifications” to the suspension, steering and anti-roll systems.

BMW M5 CS 2022 badge

Its two deep-matte paints set it apart, as do extensive carbon-fibre reinforced plastic parts outside and in. Most CS examples were fitted with gold-bronze highlights – including the 20-inch wheels – though more restrained black badging and red brake callipers were selectable.

With no BMW Australia car available to drive, our first chance to sample the fastest-ever M5 CS came out of BMW’s headquarters in Munich in a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of BMW M – Bavaria’s motoring skunkworks-gone-pro that turns out go-fast versions of nearly every series model BMW makes.

How does the M5 CS drive?

Somewhat ironically, we used the M5 CS as a commuter for a week or so in Munich before embarking on a more suitable German-Austrian-Swiss-Italian road trip to explore the limits of what this stiffened, lightened, enhanced super-sedan can do.

Pressing the CS – Competition Sport, not Commuter Saloon – into urban duties revealed that a key M5 trait has been maintained: this may be a highly collectable, track-honed limited-run edition, but like the regular F90 and every other M5 before it, this car is obscenely driveable at any speed. Comfortable, even.

It’s where your three hundred-large and a whole lot of love from M’s development shop in Garching, Munich go: striking an almost unbelievable balance between the hammering high-speed capability we were yet to explore, and realistic, usable performance every day. A BMW M5 means a reasonably supple ride as much as it means on-limit ability.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green front end

Part of the livability here is intrinsically linked to the improvements that make the CS a better go-fast partner than the standard F90: standard carbon-ceramic brakes and light-alloy wheels substantially reduce unsprung mass in the order of 40kg – the kind of thing that makes a difference when you drop a gold-bronze wheel into a München pothole.

Even the twin-turbo bent-eight, further dialled-up by M GmbH, should feel highly-sprung, a caged animal – yet it just … doesn’t. Masterful drive-mode calibration means that you can pootle around with 467kW/750Nm underfoot and not feel intimidated.

But while the CS can do daily duties, it’s not happiest here. Tapping into this sedan’s prodigious executive-express ability finds it hunkered down, and Bavaria still offers plenty of unrestricted autobahn for commuting between far-flung photography locations. Find a rare straight, clear section of motorway and this M5 will put down 0-200km/h in 10.3 seconds.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green rear end

That’s on the way to what BMW says is a governed 305km/h but what our small cohort of drivers found was actually 310km/h with a southern tailwind on the way to Tyrol.

As well as driving the most exclusive M5 yet made, we were on the ground to observe an annual jewel in the crown of BMW’s Classic restoration department: its sponsorship of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como: along with Pebble Beach, this is one of the world’s premier displays of incredible, curated metal.

Skipping Lufthansa queues we opted to drive to Italy: M5 CS in convoy with a viper-green M4 manual coupe, two wind-in-your-hair M4 Competition AWD convertibles, and the pragmatic suitcase-carrier of the group – an X5 M Competition (that was still capable of 268km/h).

BMW M5 CS 2022 front end

If you’ve a vehicle quick enough, a fortified bladder and a budget that can stretch to fuelling thirsty machines like these, high-performance motoring is a great way to get around Europe, exploring well-maintained roads against the backdrop of amazing scenery: in our case, the alps that straddle this part of the continent.

The transit segments of the journey show the M5 CS in one of its element environments: low-slung, huge mechanical grip, huge chemical grip from the Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and immense torque at the ready for when the Citroen Saxo clears the A95 autobahn’s fast-lane, opening a kilometres-long runway for finding v-max.

Autobahn-storming is sweat-inducingly nerve-wracking, amping testosterone to the max as your brain scans for incoming threats that will see you finding the CS’s (admirable) stoppers – but it’s this car’s agility on much tighter roads that is more impressive, and ultimately more satisfying.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green road trip

The CS had my name on it after a few days of hob-nobbing with the classic-car elite in Cernobbio: while the X5 was headed back via the gently-curving EU route to Bavaria, the M4 pilots and I decided to head ‘over the top’ – a snaking, taxing route up and over the Italian side of the alps via the (in)famous Stelvio Pass.

Having only reopened for the summer the day before – and it being a Sunday – we were expecting the usual few open corners over Stelvio before being stuck behind a caravan-of-caravans again. But it was not so.

As if the Gods were smiling down upon our convoy after two hard years shuttered in Australia during the pandemic, the only traffic up Strada Statale 38 “Passo dello Stelvio” was a friendly motorcyclist who grinned as the quartet roared past.

BMW M5 CS 2022 side profile

From Lake Como it’s two hours of slightly numbing 80km/h straight rural roads and your arrival at the 48 hairpins that make Stelvio comes without much warning – one turn off the main road and you’re ‘on it’ – so you have to be focussed from the word go.

It’s a narrow, snaking, tough and technical road, sometimes open, sometimes hard up against granite walls, sometimes passing through videogame-esque open-sided tunnels. The route is made easier only by beautiful road surfacing – at least there’s no real mid-corner bumps to contend with here. Normally, there are plenty of cyclists, too.

But for whatever reason both caravan and cyclist were not in the neighbourhood – too early in the season? No matter, no time to think about the logistics – it’s just a matter of hammering BMW’s best, playing with the extensive dynamic settings as you go, finding how to extract the most from this four-door.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green gold bronze wheels

On a tight road like this there’s no avoiding that the M5 CS is still five metres long, 1.9 metres wide and 1821kg, even if that is 70kg down on the kerb weight of the standard version. With that kind of size and mass, it’s all the more impressive what you can do with this thing – led by a feelsome, direct steering rack.

Delivered through an love it/hate it alcantara steering wheel with perforated red inserts at the zero-degree mark, the CS’s tiller fizzes with feel and feedback – preciously rare among electric setups – letting you know precisely how much grip remains at the front end. Which is a lot, because the aggressive front-end geometry heroically minimises understeer.

Despite the considerable weight of the donk nestled between the axle and firewall, the CS turns in happily before allowing you a highly variable degree of slip from the rear end under throttle. The turns on Stelvio are really tight, so you actually want a degree of throttle steer on virtually every corner-exit: not lairy full-drift stuff, but constant corrections.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green rear end

You can go raw by disconnecting drive to the front axle entirely, though this also necessitates total deactivation of ESC – which with these cliffs is a bit much. Thankfully, M’s expertise in electronic tuning shines through here via the M Dynamic stability control mode, which allows a healthy serve of angle to build from the rear end before subtle intervention stops you from exceeding your limits, which hit before those of the car do.

As for the V8: well, it’s a beauty even in M Performance M550i guise in the ‘mainstream’ 5 Series lineup. It gets better and more focussed in ‘S’ form nestled in the guts of an M5 Competition – it’s really throttle response and sound that M have tweaked further for CS duties.

There’s an enticing, titanium-exhaust metallic sound under throttle as revs, emotion and heart-rate build: at full chat, it’s properly loud, bellowing up the hill. A crisp 13 degrees outside – a relief after the thirties temperatures on Lake Como – this was a windows down, hard-noise moment with the CS reverberating off the cliffs on the way up to Stelvio summit.

BMW M5 CS 2022 engine

Body roll is virtually imperceptible but despite the flatness, there’s an inherent neutrality to the CS’s balance fed through constant hairpin-in, controlled-slide out moments. Oversteer is easy to induce but the car’s limits fall way short of the low triple-digit speeds achievable on sinewy routes like this.

Still, I emerge unsurprised that the CS was able to pull off a stunning win at Evo’s performance car of the year testing last year – keeping up with supercars in the equivalent of automotive black-tie is quite something. The most special M5 ever? Almost certainly – even if a drive of a box-fresh E39 M5 a few days later confirmed the analogue stuff unabashedly deserves the nostalgia it attracts.

If you’re reading this with an M5 CS parked in your collection: don’t keep the car as a garage queen. It wants to be driven.

As for the boring stuff: refinement? Yes, it’s quiet. It’s luxurious. Safety? It’s basically all there. BMW Assisted Driving is well tuned. If you need to do 110km/h on the motorway you’ll be held in your lane, kept a safe distance from the car in front, blind spot monitoring working.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
9.0
Ride & refinement
9.0
Handling
9.5
Safety
8.0

How is the M5 CS’s interior?

BMW M properly concentrated their efforts for the CS on the oily bits and the lairier visual treatment on the exterior. Inside, this is an F90 M5 Competition with more aggressive seats, a four-person layout, more standard Alcantara, slightly reduced specification … and no centre bin. It’s weight saving, innit.

First – the controversial bit. Just as we found with the G80 cars, the hyper-bolstered carbon bucket seats that are optional in the M3/M4 but standard in the M5 CS will not be for everybody. They do not have adjustable side pieces and there is a weirdly-placed, comfortable chunk of carbon just off your crotch. These pews favour the slender.

But they’re heated, and trimmed mainly in soft merino-grade leather. If your body type fits in their clutches, these seats coddle for hours without back pain becoming an issue.

BMW M5 CS 2022 interior

Technically, the Alcantara steering wheel is also controversial. If you’re planning to really drive this car – as if it’s a 530d, as it wants to be driven, high-mile stuff, the oil in your palms will eat the artificial material alive, making it go hard and crumbly. We prefer leather and would probably chuck a regular M5 tiller on.

These things are mostly subjective, though. What is beyond reproach is the M5 CS’s technology package, shared with its parent car. Twin 12-inch screens feel at once modern yet intuitive to use, with the choice of touch control or BMW’s great iDrive rotary input device for the central screen. Wireless CarPlay and Harman-Kardon audio remain standard.

Quality remains tip-top despite the stiffened suspension: there’s still enough suppleness baked into the platform that creaks aren’t elicited from the content inside when traversing a driveway or speed hump.

BMW M5 CS 2022 interior

We laughed at its reference in press documents relating to the M5 CS, but the removal of the opening centre bin (and its replacement by a basic armrest) is surprisingly annoying. On a road trip with phones, cables, drinks, snacks et al all over the place – you want for more storage space in this car. Pack light.

Amusingly, the three-across back seat of the F90 M5 is replaced by twin seats that mimic those up front: they’re highly bolstered, eliminating the usable centre-pew in the meantime. Who cares! The kids will love these mini-sports buckets. We do, too.

Beneath a manually-opening boot lid (the humanity!) sits a still impressive 530 litres of cargo space. While no M5 Touring station wagon has been built since the V10-engined E61 generation, the F90 remains a practical, big car capable of swallowing a week’s worth of luggage.

BMW M5 CS 2022 back seats

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
8.0
Cabin technology
9.0
Driver comfort
7.0
Passenger space
8.0

What are the M5 CS’s running costs?

Truthfully, the M5 CS can be almost reasonable on fuel consumption…at a steady, moderate speed on the highway, where you’ll get maybe 11L/100km from it.

There is a requirement to fuel all F90 M5s with 98-octane petrol – so if you can’t afford the petrol this isn’t the car for you.

Get into the pedal often – as you will want to do – and it’s a simple-enough proposition to expect 15L-20L/100km for ongoing consumption.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green yellow LED headlight

Warranty remains a sore point with BMW Australia, with the brand now trailing Audi Sport, Mercedes-AMG and others who proudly have a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty. BMW has stuck to three years only, hence the Poor rating.

We don’t know how many of the 20 M5 CS buyers locally opted for a Service Inclusive package with their super-sedan, but such packages were available with the price withheld. On an ordinary 5 Series, a five year/80,000 plan costs $2010 with brake replacements a separate cost.

Running costs scorecard
Consumption
Average
Servicing
Average
Warranty
Below average

The final verdict

This road test isn’t so much a recommendation for a car you can’t buy new, but a love-letter to one of the last great non-hybrid, non-electric, combustion-only BMW M sedans.

M5 is a badge that means so much to so many of the BMW faithful. We’re glad that the only production M5 to wear a CS badge – perhaps untold prototypes internally have, too – lives up to the meaning these three letters and a number imply.

We implore owners not to leave their CS gathering dust in some garage alongside other objets d’art, admired but not interacted with.

This is a BMW 5 Series ultimately cut from the same cloth as a highway patrol car. It is durable, high-quality, and reliable. The CS is special and irreplaceable – but as the kids say, you only live once. Driving the M5 CS is living well.

BMW M5 CS 2022 frozen deep green studio

Overall rating
Overall rating
9.0
Drivability
9.0
Interior
8.0
Running costs
Average

Often compared with

Overall rating
9.0
Drivability
9.0
Interior
8.0
Running costs
Average

Variant tested CS LCI

$274,900
Details
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges
$288,789

Key specs (as tested)

Engine
Capacity
4395 cc
Cylinders
v8
Induction
Bi Turbo
Power
467kW at 6000rpm
Torque
750Nm at 1800rpm
Power to weight ratio
256kW/tonne
Fuel
Fuel type
Petrol
Fuel capacity
68 litres
Consumption
10.5L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
647km (claimed)
Drivetrain
Transmission
Automatic
Drivetrain
All Wheel Drive
Gears
8
Dimensions
Length
4983 mm
Width
1903 mm
Height
1469 mm
Unoccupied weight
1825 kg

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