2021 BMW M5 CS review: It doesn’t get much better

With a soaring price tag, the BMW M5 CS should seriously impress. Andrew Frankel heads to Thruxton on a fact-finding mission

BMW M5 CS front

Extensive use of carbon fibre has given a 70kg weight reduction over the M5 Competition

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BMW is exerting upward pressure on the positioning of its M5 super saloon. When the previous model was introduced in 2011, it cost around £73,000. When it replaced the current car in 2018 that price had risen to £89,000. To this was added a Competition version, which was nothing of the sort, but it didn’t take long for the standard car to be quietly deleted fromthe configurator, meaning today the entry point to M5 ownership is £102,385. But BMW would far rather you bought this new CS (Club Sport) model instead, for which they would like £140,780, all but double the price of the only M5 you could buy a decade ago.
It’s a vast sum to spend on a mass-market four-door saloon given that a 520i SE from the other end of the same model range costs – wait for it – over £100,000 less. BMW rather grandly calls the CS a ‘limited-run, exclusive special edition model’ but then omits to mention to what number the run will be limited, rendering the phrase meaningless. My strong suspicion is that it will be limited to the number BMW expects to be able to sell, making it just like any other car on sale. Can it be worth it?
On the surface it seems not. Despite new intercoolers and revised turbos running higher boost, the power gain over the Competition is just 10bhp. Yes, this does make this the most powerful M car to date, but only just. Likewise the weight reduction of 70kg, primarily through the addition of forged rims, carbon ceramic brakes and some CFRP panels (of which the largest by far is the bonnet), though welcome, has to be seen in the context of a car that still weighs over 1800kg. Overall it equates to a drop in mass of less than 4%.

“I was prepared to be thoroughly sniffy about this car”

Perhaps more significant is what BMW has done to the suspension, which retains the old architecture but is otherwise thoroughly re-thought: new springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and more robust engine mounts to stop the car’s single largest weight source from roaming around the engine bay, adversely affecting the handling. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres – street rubber with decent wet weather performance but some degree of track optimisation – completes the picture.