2022 BMW M5 CS Road Test: Extreme daily driver


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BMW has something grand in the M5, something even grander in the M5 Competition, and something you might say is the grandest of all in the M5 CS. The tester that landed in our fleet was a visual testament to that, with its matte “Frozen Deep Green Metallic” paint, spiny bronze wheels and carbon fiber roof, spoiler and front splitter. Under that bulging, vented hood lies a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 tuned to make 627 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Open the doors, and you’re treated to a cockpit festooned with even more carbon, immediately putting you in the mood to do something stupid. But when that novelty wears off — you can’t drive this thing near the limit for long on public roads without consequences — even the CS settles down into something you can realistically drive every day, doing normal, everyday things.

The seats are something truly special. Both rows get some of the sportiest chairs you can imagine. The bolstering is aggressive, and you have to be very careful not to sit on the lower outside bolster when getting in the car. It’s protrusive and, erm, quite stiff. The carbon fiber divider between your legs, however, doesn’t come as uncomfortably into play as you might expect. The fit of the seatback around one’s ribcage is quite snug, but it means you stay locked in place through fast corners. The glossy swaths of carbon on the back of the front seats are a joy to behold — a work of art for rear occupants to admire. It took us awhile to notice it, but all four headrests have a subtle outline of the Nürburgring Nordschleife breaking up the perforation. BMW thought to include seat heaters, but no ventilation. That’s fine for a performance sedan while it’s spending time on the track, but cooled seats would be awfully nice everywhere else.

Those rear buckets mean, however, that you’re limited to no more than four occupants. If you’ve got a family of five, you have to consider how often you plan to use your 627-horsepower performance sedan as a daily driver for full-family school runs or road trips. If ever, that means you’ll have to settle for a lesser 5 Series, like the M5 Competition and its mere 617 horsepower, to get five seats. The CS’s bucket seats can still easily accommodate car seats, though, which was a pleasant surprise.

And, boy, does this thing make for a great daily driver. While Autoblog Road Test Editor Zac Palmer had the pleasure of flogging the M5 CS around the track at Thermal Club, I had the pleasure of enjoying this beast around town, taking kids to soccer and swim, and filling the trunk up with loads of groceries. It’s quite comfortable, even on Michigan’s broken roads. It’s also surprisingly quiet, minimizing the fierce bark from the exhaust from making its way into the cabin. Roll the windows down, and you’re in for an aural feast. It seems ironic that, while the occupants get to enjoy the sheer thrill of 2.9-second 0-60 rips, it’s those outside the vehicle who are treated to the sonic thrills of the thing.

It's the CS’s steering that pushes this a little further outside normal daily driver. While the quick response from on center is great when hurling this bear from one corner to the next with confidence and precision, it feels mighty twitchy when you’re trying to convince your toddler to get a head start on her nap. There’s an easy fix for this, though. Abandon the 9-and-3 steering position, and pop a single hand at the top of the wheel. Oddly enough, the M5 CS responds brilliantly to this laidback driving style, settling down in a way that almost makes you wonder if it was tuned for it.

The steering is also devoid of much feedback, which leaves it up to your other senses to discern the amount of grip present between tires and tarmac (have you ever tasted traction? It’s wild). The problem here, again, is the few decibels that make their way inside. The good news is that you needn’t be all too concerned with grip. The M5 CS, with its all-wheel drive and available Pirelli P Zero Corsa summer tires, has loads of grabbing power on dry roads — though it does get a bit squirrelly, understandably, when the rain starts to fall if you don’t dial back the throttle-mashing.

Once you’re clear of the highway onramp, cruising in the M5 CS would be tough to distinguish from one of the other M5s. But it does give you a chance to look around the cabin and bask in all that carbon fiber.

But do you really need the CS? Starting at $142,995, its 627 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque eclipse the M5 Competition only by 10 hp and 0 lb-ft, or the standard M5’s by 27 horses and, again, no torque. Sure, those cars weigh a little more, and don’t have those cool seats, but they’re still ridiculously fast. And it might be a moot point, as this is a single-year run that has already elapsed, but is shaving 0.3 seconds off your 0-60 time compared to a standard M5 really worth $35,000? No, but the exclusivity might. Maybe. For someone. I’d rather have ventilated seats.

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