A typical 25-year anniversary is celebrated with silver, but if you’re BMW celebrating 25 years of the 5-series, it’s celebrated with an M5 CSL.
The M5 CSL is “the M5 CSL we never built,” according to Albert Biermann, head of BMW’s M division development. The M5 CSL continues the tradition of building a hardcore street model that lacks the niceties common in most cars. The idea began in the 1970s, when BMW built the 3.0 CSL, quite literally a race car for the road. The idea came to light again some 20 years later when the E36 M3 CSL entered production in 1995. In 2003, BMW introduced a new M3 CSL based on the E46 M3 and built less than 1400 cars over the short production run.
In accordance with BMW’s other famous CSL models, BMW both lightened the M5 CSL and increased the power output from the V-10 engine. To lighten the car, BMW installed a carbon fiber roof (which also helps lower the center of gravity for better handling), replaced the standard front seats with carbon fiber units, and removed the rear seats.
Although official power and torque figures have not been revealed, Biermann hints that it is around 580 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, up from 500 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque in a standard M5. To accomplish the increase in output, BMW enlarged the V-10 from 5.0 liters to 5.5 liters. Additionally BMW’s M division fitted a secondary oil cooler and a larger carbon fiber intake manifold to help cool the V-10 and allow it to breathe more freely.
Combining the M5’s diet and power increases leads to an even better-performing car. BMW has not made any performance claims for the car, but according to Biermann it is “comfortably faster than the standard M5’s 4.1 second 0 to 62 mph.” Biermann also told Autocar the M5 CSL lapped the Nürburgring in under8 minutes, making it at least 20 seconds faster than the stock M5.
“It’s a lot gutsier than the standard M5,” says Claudia Hürtgen, the BMW racing driver who did the Nürburgring lap. “You can sense the added drive out of corners. There’s more bottom end shove. I’m pulling over 180 mph under the bridge at the Döttinger Hohe (the fastest point of the track).”
In place of the M5’s normal seven-speed SMG transmission is BMW’s new seven-speed DCT as seen on the new E92 M3. With the DCT in the M5 CSL, this means shifts are actuated quickly without the herky-jerky motion typical of the SMG.
Unfortunately there are no plans for production of the M5 CSL, as BMW says it is concentrating too heavily on the next-generation M5. That does, however, give us hope that the next-gen M5 might be as fast as the M5 CSL is.