Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Gold wheels and yellow daytime running lights aren't the only reasons to dig the BMW M5 CS, but they're definitely a great place to start. These rad bits of brightwork immediately grab your attention, and man, this latest M5 absolutely deserves it.
With 627 horsepower coming from a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, the 2022 M5 CS is BMW's most powerful production car. Yeah, that's only a 10-hp increase over the M5 Competition, but it's enough to earn that "most powerful" designation, and there's a lot to be said for bragging rights in this space. The V8 also cranks out 553 pound-feet of torque, all of which is delivered in full between 1,800 and 5,950 rpm. In other words, the M5 CS has an absolute crap-ton of power, and it's never more than a throttle tap away.
An eight-speed automatic transmission manages the engine's oomph, sending it to all four corners via BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. A standard rear bias keeps the M5 feeling lively through Southern California's tight mountain switchbacks, and you can completely turn off the traction control and lock the car into a two-wheel-drive setting, though that's kind of overkill for public roads. Besides, with the xDrive system in its 4WD Sport mode and the stability control set to its midrange M Dynamic Mode, the CS' electronic safeguards allow for plenty of rambunctiousness. Trust me, this thing is a riot.
The M5 CS isn't just BMW's most powerful production car, it's also the company's quickest. But the latter isn't a direct result of the former. Instead, it's the 230-pound weight savings that allows the M5 CS to sprint to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds (though that's only 0.2 seconds quicker than the not-a-slowpoke M5 Competition).
The vast majority of that lightweighting comes from the expanded use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body components, as well as the standard carbon-ceramic brakes. The roof, hood, front splitter, mirror caps, rear spoiler and diffuser are all done up in CFRP, as is the engine cover. The splitter is another key visual differentiator between the CS and lesser M5s, by the way, yet it's not so low to the ground that you'll risk scraping it on every driveway. Do be careful with speed bumps, though.
Compared to the standard M5, the CS has a 0.2-inch lower ride height and increased negative front camber. Its engine mounts, springs, rear anti-roll bar and toe link mounts are all stiffer, and the adaptive dampers are reprogrammed to account for the reduced weight, as well as the new tires (which are non-runflat, thank god).
For no additional cost, you can spec the CS with Pirelli P-Zero Corsas, like the ones fitted to my test car. Sized 275/35 up front and 285/35 around back, the Corsas are super grippy and arguably the CS' single most important handling upgrade. They don't ruin the ride quality, either; the M5 CS isn't too harsh to be driven everyday.
If you recall, the M5 Competition actually got a little softer this year, and in making that car more livable, BMW widened the gap between the Competition and the CS. There's a noticeable difference in the way the CS feels on a canyon road -- tighter and more agile, with fewer body motions and sharper turn-in. Sure, the M5 is still a big car, but its higher levels of grip and stiffer dampers allow you to push a little harder through each corner. An added bonus of the retuned chassis and better tires: The steering feels slightly more communicative than in the M5 Competition, with a bit more feedback making its way up through the Alcantara-wrapped wheel.
You'll find Alcantara trim swathed across the CS' headliner (the carbon fiber roof means no sunroof is available), and there are a few little carbon fiber bits throughout the interior. Like prior BMW CS cars, the M5's center console doesn't have a storage bin under the armrest, so you'll have to find another place for your wallet or purse. Thankfully, there's a standard wireless charging pad just ahead of the cup holders, and it's grippy enough to keep your phone in place when you're throwing the M5 around.
Speaking of which, get a load of those seats. The M5 CS gets BMW's new carbon fiber buckets, though they don't come in the same wild color scheme as the ones in the M3 and M4. With their tall side bolsters and, of course, that chunky leg divider, these seats aren't the easiest to get in and out of, depending on your body type. But they offer no shortage of comfort or support, and they're both electronically adjustable and heated, so that's nice.
Backseat passengers get in on the racy action, too. There are two individual positions with thigh and side bolsters and a small console with cup holders between 'em. This is a neat touch you won't find in other luxury sport sedans, and don't worry, Cool Moms and Cool Dads, you can still attach a child's car seat.
BMW's iDrive 7 tech carries over unchanged from other 5 Series models, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as well as embedded navigation. You also get the M5's 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, head-up display, Harman Kardon sound system and Wi-Fi hotspot. BMW even throws in all its active safety tech, too, like automatic pre-collision braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning -- all the good stuff. The only options are some matte paint colors, which look awesome, as well as no-cost add-ons like the aforementioned Corsa tires and gold-painted brake calipers, both of which you 100% want.
That the M5 CS comes fully loaded is a good thing, since this sport sedan definitely isn't cheap. BMW will only offer the CS for the 2022 model year, priced from $142,995 including $995 for destination. That makes it more than $30,000 more expensive than an M5 Competition, which is obviously a significant amount of money. However, I don't imagine BMW will have trouble selling each and every one, especially since the jump to the CS genuinely feels more meaningful here than it did on the M2. It's the already-great M5 enhanced to new heights. Plus it has yellow running lights. Seems worth it just for that.