What is it?
BMW has never made a Clubsport version of its long-lived M5 super-saloon before. This first one is a car with a walloping 626bhp, a £140,000 price tag, and a 0-62mph claim of 3.0sec flat. It’s nothing less than the most potent road car that the M Division has yet built.
But, contrary to my expectations at least, it also feels important; like a turning point for the M5, rather than just some cynical exercise in limited-numbers ego massage for the chosen few. With this car, BMW has gently corrected the development course of the F90-series M5 and addressed (rather effectively, as we will come on to explain, but also for quite a price) its various dynamic shortcomings.
The F90 M5 made a memorable first impression when it was introduced to UK roads back in 2018. The standard 591bhp version had an outright handling agility that you rarely find in a car of its size, and the versatility of its clever four-wheel drive system gave it remarkable adaptability, too.
But it didn’t arrive on the market perfectly formed. Its tetchily firm and insistent ride and its slightly fuzzy-feeling electromechanical steering and by-wire braking systems both left room for improvement of the sort that tends to be wrought upon performance cars like this as they're lead through so many special editions and model-year revisions.
When the 616bhp M5 Competition arrived in 2019, though, with its even stiffer suspension and tweaked running gear, it only obfuscated what we had seen (and liked) in the original version.
The 2020 facelifted M5 Competition (by that time the only M5 that UK customers could buy) began to redress the car’s dynamic balance towards pragmatic real-road suitability, but only little by little.