Nostalgia is a dangerous disease, and what’s worse is it’s easier to catch the older you become. I remember when the E46 M3 CSL was described as OK, but not worth the extra few thousand euro-dollars BMW demanded for its SMG-only lightweight-special.
Or how about the launch of the E92, with its big V8? How could that 1700kg monster with tiny brakes possibly be related to the original 4-banger E30 M3, a race car for the road? It was the size of an M5, with a power-plant to match.
BUT time was kind to both of those controversial M-cars in the end, despite their initial, lardy, less-driver-orientated, appearance when compared to the previous models. Now a naturally-aspirated 4-litre V8 seems incredible, and a 1.5-tonne CSL even more wonderful.
Welcome to the next chapter in this predictably faster and more computerised future.
The BMW M5 CS.
If you’ve watched the video (Driving the 2021 M5 CS on the Nürburgring Nordschleife), you’ll no doubt appreciate that this is one of the fastest cars BMW have ever sold us. It’s tech-laden, and tech-heavy. Like a computerised Orca whale, with extra turbos. Graceful, fast, and lithe. But in a way that shouldn’t seem possible. It’s actually only about 70kg lighter than a regular F90 M5 Competition, and still a roughly two-tonne car.
And for all of its gorgeous carbon fibre, and 2020 high-tech interior, the excitement of this particular machine comes mostly from its capabilities and the speed which you can attain. The engine note is as synthetic and as man-made as its steering ‘feel’. You might lap this car faster than any other car you’ve driven – but there will be the nagging feeling that it was the invisible hands of BMW M GmbH and Robert Bosch GmbH who are the real heroes behind any laptime you achieve.
Torque-shifting all-wheel-drive, 6-axis stability control, and instantaneous throttle response. Add brakes and dampers that seem immune to the colossal weight, and you’ve got the ultimate, modern, M-car.
It’s a technological masterpiece, but it won’t teach you anything good. Good driving habits are hard to form in cars that are engineered this well.