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2022 BMW M5 CS Road Test: M Stands for Monster

2022 BMW M5 CS Road Test: M Stands for Monster

BMW's taking a crack at the supersedan crown with the M5 CS

There is a belief floating around enthusiast circles that BMW has lost some of its mojo, and saying "M is back" every time a new M car made its debut quickly became a cheesy cliché. The fact of the matter is BMW's M division never stopped making standout performance automobiles. Cars like the F10 M5 and F80 M3 were plenty quick and equally capable, they just lacked a little soul. It seems like BMW would agree because it's started to come around recently.

Last year's M2 CS wasn't just the pinnacle of the 2 Series range, it was a life-affirming, feel-good-inside experience that more than justified its exceptional price tag. Then came the new M3, which despite its unlovable face, is a raucous, tub-thumping good time when you're behind the wheel. And now there's the all-new M5 CS — and it's coming for the supersedan crown.

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

OK, so it isn't really all-new. In fact, on paper, it looks like a simple marketing exercise. The upgrades that take an M5 from Competition to CS include 10 extra horsepower (but 627 horsepower is enough to make this the most powerful BMW ever as of this writing), 10% stiffer springs, lightweight wheels, standard carbon-ceramic brakes, slick matte paint, yellow daytime running lights, and some absurd-looking carbon-fiber-backed bucket seats. So it looks a little meaner, and the carbon-fiber hood and roof mean it's a little leaner too.

Oh, and let's not forget how much it costs. At $142,995, it's not the most expensive BMW you can buy, but it is plenty more than a $110,000 M5 Competition. So do these changes really add up to something more? Something that's worth the extra cash and worthy of the CS badge? A performance car that has a soul?

Hell, yes

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

Before you even get in, the CS looks like it means business. Peering through the window reveals heavily bolstered bucket seats in the front and the back — meaning this sedan only seats four. The carbon-fiber hood has a power bulge that would make Jon Hamm feel self-conscious and those yellow daytime runners just stare you down, constantly double-dog daring you to get in and go for a drive. Take up the gauntlet. Get in and go.

Once fired up, the tweaked 4.4-liter V8 rushes to its redline in every gear with real vigor, and because there's less sound deadening, you get to hear the turbos woosh, wastegates flutter and the mechanical whine of the engine through the firewall. In our testing, the M5 CS rushed from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.98 seconds and crushed the quarter mile in 10.8 seconds at 127.5 mph. Even more mind-boggling, it pulled out that time on the wrong rubber. BMW sent us this M5 CS on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, but it really should have been equipped with the stickier Pirelli P Zeros BMW offers as standard equipment on the CS.

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

On the even grippier Pirellis, the CS might have been quicker still, but there's a tire shortage right now, and we took what we could get. Even so, the CS was able to haul itself down from 60 mph to a dead stop in 100 feet — 3 feet longer than the all-conquering Porsche 911 GT3. Just take a moment to digest that: This 4,102-pound sedan runs a consistent 10-second quarter mile and stops within a yard of one of the best sports cars ever made on the wrong set of tires. Bananas with a capital B.

But the measure of a great-driving car isn't just what happens when you strap some timing equipment to it, and on the road the CS is dominant. It scythes and slithers its way up and down our favorite pieces of pavement. You immediately have faith in the front end. Turn the wheel and the car darts in whatever direction you've decided. There is no slop, no wasted energy, and no delay between what your hands do at the wheel and what the car does next. The M5 CS is plugged in, and you better be wide awake.

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

Because there's so much power (and our Michelins struggled to put that power down), the traction control light is constantly flickering in third gear. The switchable all-wheel-drive system is clever, but you don't dare go near RWD mode on the road. In the tight and twisties, the M5 CS can be a handful, but that's exactly what this car is supposed to be. This supercar of a sedan constantly reminds you that you're alive and well.

It makes the palms sweat and the head spin and the heart race, and when you get out of it and look back you remember: Oh, that's right, it's a sedan of all things. You could have put three other people in there with you and driven this thing on its door handles until they saw their lunches a second time — a 911 GT3 can't do that.

The German competition doesn't even come close

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

There are a lot of super-expensive supersedans to consider when you're looking for something like the CS, but there's a magic here that the competition from Stuttgart and Ingolstadt can't match. The Mercedes-Benz GT 63 S, Porsche Panamera Turbo S and even the Audi RS 6 are incredible in their own right. All are exceptionally capable, fast, just as versatile and even easier to live with (especially in the Audi's case). But after spending any time in this big, bad Bimmer, they all feel watered down.

The CS doesn't just deliver on raw performance, it delivers on making you feel special, too. It isn't a lively dance partner the way the CS-badged M2 was. The M5 CS is a monster. It constantly claws at the tarmac for grip, working its tires and that clever AWD system hard in the quest for traction. The eight-speed automatic transmission is drama-free around town, but once you flick the paddle and ask for an upshift at full throttle, it kicks you in the back of the head to remind you this is go time. Everything blends together beautifully to make what is easily the most engaging sedan BMW has produced since the E39 M5.

2022 BMW M5 CS

2022 BMW M5 CS

And, yes, there are foibles. The M5 CS is far less comfortable day to day than any of the competition we just mentioned. And the seats are a pain to get in and out of. And the sound system is pretty terrible. And BMW saw fit to remove the center console (rude). But all of those things fade away into insignificance when you put the hammer down. Sure, it isn't what you'd call comfortable, but it's a better experience because of it. If you want to feel more connected, then this is the supersedan for you.

What about that soul?

Some cars very neatly straddle the line between insane and absolutely phenomenal. The M5 CS is one such car. It isn't sweet, it's a bully, but that character makes it all the more visceral. It has plenty of soul — it's just the angry kind that demands you stretch its legs and push it hard. So go ahead, get in and turn your favorite road into minced meat, over and over and over again. The M5 CS is the right tool for the job and easily worth the extra cash it'll cost you, but the best part is your friends will get to love it just as much as you do. Just make sure you take them out on an empty stomach.

Edmunds says

The M5 CS seared its way into our hearts and minds in a way few BMWs have been able to. It really is an all-time great.