BMW M5 review

Category: Luxury car

Section: Performance & drive

BMW M5 CS 2021 rear cornering
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 front
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear cornering
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior dashboard
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior rear seats
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior infotainment
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 front right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 grille detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 alloy wheel detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior driver display
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior front seats
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior front seat
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 boot open
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 front
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear cornering
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior dashboard
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior rear seats
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior infotainment
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 front right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 right tracking
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 grille detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 alloy wheel detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 rear detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior driver display
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior front seats
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior front seat
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 interior detail
  • BMW M5 CS 2021 boot open
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

As part of the BMW M5’s mid-life facelift, BMW made a concerted effort to simplify the set-up process for all the driving modes.

Instead of having separate buttons for steering, engine and suspension calibration as you did in the previous car, there is now just a button labeled ‘Setup’ and another marked ‘M Mode’ sitting alongside the gear lever. 

That's not the case in the M5 CS, though. Despite riding 7mm lower than the Competition because of its revised springs, tweaked anti-roll bars and M8 Gran Coupe-sourced dampers, the CS feels significantly more pliant.

The suspension soaks up all but the harshest imperfections in the road surface, and it almost feels as though BMW’s engineers have set up shop in North Wales and spent their time optimising the CS’s suspension for the roads around Snowdonia.

This new-found control gives you more confidence to push on when the road starts to get challenging. That's a good thing, because when you decide to deploy all 626 horses, the CS fires you up the road like the angry hand of God has just given you an almighty smack on the bottom.

When our good friends over at Autocar strapped some timing gear to the CS on a private test track, it managed to return a 0-60mph time of less than 3 seconds. That is simply mind-boggling acceleration for a non-electric performance car. 

You won't get much chance to deploy all 626bhp on the public road, but you’ll be pleased to hear that the tweaks made to the CS’s 4.4-litre V8 are readily apparent at more normal speeds.

The CS’s engine feels stronger than the Competition’s from lower down the rev range, and also responds more willingly to accelerator inputs. That, combined with a more natural-sounding active exhaust (the Competition, to these ears at least, seems to rely more on synthesised sound piped in through the speakers) makes the CS the more immersive car to drive quickly on a country road.

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that the CS is the most complete and confidence-inspiring full-sized performance saloon currently on sale. Even with the four-wheel drive system switched off (something we advise you to leave for the track) the CS can be made to dance as it exits a corner like a car half its size – a trait that characterised the great M5s of old.

New car deals
Save up to £14,843
Target Price from £95,951
Save up to £14,843
or from £1,071pm
Swipe to see used and leasing deals
Leasing deals
From £1,221pm