Dan Scanlan test drives BMW’s uber-sedan boasting muscles and grace.
He really likes it!
He really likes it!
Thirty years ago, BMW came up with a plan – embed a sports car in the skin of a family sedan. The result: a 3,500-pound M5 with a then-amazing 256-horsepower inline six where about 180-horsepower normally lived. It delivered a still-fast, impressive 0-60 mph sprint in way under seven seconds.
Fast forward to 2012, when the fifth generation M5 was introduced with 560-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 replacing a 5-liter V-10. Sixty mph came up in 4.2 seconds and four could still ride in a car that had the sound and feel of a 2-seater. Not enough? Here in Monte Carlo Blue Metallic, hunkered down a bit lower than its sibling, is the latest iteration pumping out 575-horsepower through the rear wheels thanks to a $7,300 Competition Package.
The Competition Package sees the turbos’ boost pressure raised and a modified exhaust installed for an added 15-horsepower and a wonderful engine snarl. As such, we got 3.9 seconds to 60 mph when the drivetrain is set in Sport Plus. That lessens traction control and quickens throttle input and shift points, with a lightning-quick 7.2-second run to 100-mph and wheelspin in the first-second shift. The exhaust note was a glorious snarl under thrust and a delicious crackle-pop on auto-blip downshifts.
BMW’s latest M5 gets four-wheel independent suspension with new forged aluminum suspension components, coil springs with firmer calibration and stiffer anti-sway bars that lower the car by 10 millimeters. We could customize the driving experience via buttons, Comfort, Efficient, Sport & Sport +, next to the gear shift to change the power steering feel, drivetrain response and suspension setting via electronically controlled shock absorbers.
to use it – too much.
It doesn’t hurt that the M-specific steering wheel has a thick rim with red and blue stitching and two nicely placed and long paddle shifters behind it. You can pre-program two steering wheel buttons to deliver a mix of these settings immediately. Traction control can be fully disengaged by holding the traction control button for more than five seconds, the result burning rubber into second gear with a delicious exhaust snarl and turbo sound. That and M Dynamic Mode allow you to lessen stability control to let the tail work on a racetrack.
BMW’s sweeping and clean design continues once you slip into the heavily bolstered sport seats with 14-way power adjustments including seat bottom massage, heating and cooling. The padded black dash top flows into a gentle cowl bulge hosting clean white-on-black gauges - trip computer display on the bottom of the 200-mph speedo and the Sport/Comfort display for the drivetrain, steering and suspension settings at the bottom of the 8,000-rpm tach.
All this comes at a cost - $90,900 for the base BMW M5 and $117,075 for our test car with the $9,250 carbon ceramic brakes and $7,3000 Competition Package (w/20-inch wheel/tire combo) the biggest pieces. Another $5,500 adds the executive package with power rear sunshade, ventilated front seats with massage, head-up display, power trunk lid, heated steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats. Add $1,900 for the blind spot detection, side and surround-view cameras and the safety systems, plus destination and Gas Guzzler fees.