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BMW M5 (E60) CSL: Ever heard of this one?

Ever heard of the BMW M5 CSL? In 2009, to celebrate the M5’s 25th anniversary, BMW showed a very special E60 that could do more. The sole isn’t officially called the M5 CSL, but the materials alone – more power, less weight – sound like the CSL. Additionally, former BMW M boss Albert Biermann (now retired) was said at the time that his birthday model was the M5 CSL, which BMW never made. BMW M has now published a video where a section is discussed for the first time!


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For the 25th anniversary of the M5, BMW wanted to show what electric sedans are made of. The problem: The E60 series will soon be replaced by its successor. The development of the M5 F10 which was presented in 2010 has been running smoothly. Nevertheless, four years after the market launch of the M5 E60, engineers wanted to show what was still possible.
The M5 E60 was built between 2005 and 2010. From 2007, the E61 was the second M5 (after the E34) to also be offered as a Touring. In total, more than 19,500 fine M5 and 1000 M5 Touring sedans were sold. The highlight of the series is undoubtedly the 5.0 liter naturally aspirated V10 engine (engine code S85). With 507 hp and a maximum speed of 8250 rpm, the M5 is not only one of the most powerful sedans on the market, it is also one of the most emotional cars ever.
A naturally aspirated V10 in a midsize sedan? Today is unthinkable! Unfortunately, the M5 E60 doesn’t have a good reputation as a used car. There have been a fair number of horror stories about broken connecting rod bearings, faulty SMG gears, and electronic problems. But that’s only half the truth: the M5 E60/E61 and M6 E63 definitely have engine problems, but these are often due to lack of maintenance and/or improper use such as inadequate heating.

Used BMW M5 with warranty

But back to the M5 codenamed CSL: For a special 25-year-old model, BMW has tired of the legendary S85 engine from 5.0 to 5.7 liters and given the V10 a custom-built carbon intake. In addition, the maximum speed has been increased from 8250 rpm to almost 9000 rpm. A larger oil cooler was installed to supply more air to the naturally aspirated engine. As a result, engineers quickly converted the front license plate recess into an additional air inlet and simply installed the offset sheet metal to the side. Instead of the standard 507 hp, one time it should release 630 hp to the rear wheels, according to BMW.

BMW M5 CSL (E60) 25 Years Edition

The extra air inlets aren’t exactly elegantly embedded in the apron, but they serve their purpose.

But that’s not all, to reduce the weight of the E60 sedan which is not too light at 1,855 kilograms, the Munich company decided on a carbon roof. While the M6 ​​(E63) and M3 (E92) shipped with the roof as standard at the time, this particular component was rejected by the M5 until this unique custom model. In addition, the standard seats were replaced with Recaro bucket seats and the rear seat bench was removed, saving a total of nearly 50 kilograms.

M5 CSL with DKG instead of SMG

The real highlight of the M5 CSL is the transmission. In 2005, the M5 and M6 were presented with an updated version of the SMG gearbox (SMG III). This was an automatic manual transmission – long before the first dual clutch transmissions were installed in production vehicles. While the SMG inspires its fans at the fastest gearshift speeds under full load with a brutal shifting process, it can make you nervous during traffic jams or when maneuvering with delayed response and unruly traction.
BMW M5 CSL (E60) 25 Years Edition

Almost nothing has changed in the cockpit: the BMW logo on the steering wheel is black and white.

In addition, the gearbox has some problems with age, which sometimes lead to expensive repairs. At the time, however, customers had no choice: in Europe, the M5 and M6 were only offered with the SMG, while the privilege of the classic six-speed manual transmission was reserved exclusively for US customers.

0-100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds

Why did I go this far now? Simply put, in the particular model shown in 2009, the SMG III transmission was quickly replaced by the seven-speed dual clutch (M-DKG) developed by Getrag on the M3 E92. The advantages are clear: faster gear changes, a significant increase in comfort, and a much less vulnerable DCT.

In the BMW V10 scene there have always been projects where the SMG gearbox was replaced with a DCT, but this conversion involved extreme effort and high cost. The M5 CSL is said to be capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds (4.7 second series) and has been around the Nordschleife about 20 seconds faster than the regular M5 E60.
BMW M5 CSL (E60) 25 Years Edition

With an unconfirmed lap time of 7:52 minutes, the M5 CSL will be as fast as the M3 CSL at Nordschleige.

Visually, the E60, with its striking M stripes in its 3.0 CSL look and 25-year-old BMW M5 lettering, remains standard, apart from the additional air intakes. Now you’re probably wondering why BMW put so much effort into a vehicle that was planned as a one-off in the first place. Why didn’t the extra strong and lighter M5 with the fast M-DKG hit the market at least as a small series?

In 2009 the 25th Anniversary of the M5 was presented

In the end, only those in charge at the time knew the answer, but the most plausible explanation seems to be that the E60 series has passed its peak at this point. The development of the successor has been running smoothly. The F10 M5 was launched in 2011. With a 4.4 liter V8 biturbo (S63) and 560 hp (even then up to 600 hp), it was much faster, but also significantly less emotional due to the change from a naturally aspirated V10 engine to a V8 biturbo.
In retrospect, special editions like the M5 CSL are sure to find buyers as the last hurray for the E60 and would be more desirable today than the 25-piece special M5 25th Anniversary, unveiled in 2009 and launched in 2010. In addition to the special door frames, paint in “Frozen Gray” and a two-tone leather interior, this anniversary model has not undergone any technical changes. Incidentally, the M5 E60 isn’t the only CSL!