If the role of an M5 is to imbue the 5 Series with supercar pace, then BMW has had the formula tied up with a turbocharged bow for some time.
Its 4.4-litre ‘hot-vee’ V8 has been delivering more than 550bhp-worth of autobahn-consuming acceleration since 2011.
M5s also handle, ride and cosset well enough to lead the class, with only a few flickering exceptions.
But this M5 CS adds something else, something that lures lingering gazes wherever you take it.
There’s a sense the engineers knew they could display their pride in this car, and no matter your thoughts on its matt-green finish, yellow-amber running lights and faintly ridiculous ‘sports’ seats, its clear identity as something special shrugs off any attempted criticisms without flinching.
Behind this job-done confidence is a regime of mechanical refinement that goes beyond what’s warranted in a range that already has in it a £100k – and very good – M5 Competition.
Nonetheless, someone at Munich released the purse strings for more hours of suspension tuning, engine work, carbon-ceramic brakes, forged rims and a smattering of carbonfibre-reinforced bits, including the whole bonnet.
On paper, this amounts to a 7mm lower ride height, an extra 9bhp and 70kg less weight.
But the excitement that surrounds this car is not so much about close-shaved figures or even its brooding, bronze-trimmed attitude.
It’s the demonstration that engineers, if given the chance, can still produce a driver’s car that is truly thrilling and characteristic of legends past, even from a two-tonne four-door.
In the face of the slightly flawed M4 CSL, it shows that a great BMW can’t always be forced. Something special ought to come about organically.
The steering, sound and damping are the highlights.
Once you’ve discovered the correct order of Sport, Sport and Comfort modes – avoiding Sport+ anywhere but a track – the CS reveals natural responses and neatly controlled pliancy.
It delivers a satisfyingly expensive V8 burble even at low speeds, when most modern performance cars prohibit aural enjoyment.
The performance underfoot is both explosive and perversely reasonable, such is the inherent control in the car.
Just like the best M5s of the past, it shrinks on the road and seems to distil itself ever more into its core components as you push harder.
Even the clever variable four-wheel drive simply adds traction to a balanced and surprisingly delicate chassis; and can be reverted to a rear-drive mode via a dial.
Delivering a car so pure from ingredients so devilishly complex is a towering achievement, and the deranged M5 CS carries a particularly infectious pride that has already secured it a place in the hearts of marque enthusiasts.
Images: Luc Lacey
- Engine 4395cc twin-turbo V8; 626bhp @ 6000rpm; 553lb ft @ 1800-5600rpm
- Transmission eight-speed auto, 4WD
- 0-60mph 3 secs
- Top speed 190mph
- Mpg 25
- Price £140,780
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