£73,985 - £81,195 Price range
Since BMW created what is arguably the first super-saloon with the original M5 back in 1984, each subsequent generation has been regarded as the benchmark of the class. Every version has brought with it the very latest technology, which not only enables it to produce supercar-troubling performance, but the ability to seat five people in comfort at the same time.
Despite appearances, 80 per cent of M5 parts are different (or at least heavily modified) from those used to cobble together a standard 5 Series, so a similar fastidious attention to detail has been applied here. Overall, BMW’s M Division have produced another incredible machine.
Nevertheless, the new model is perfect, and with very capable competitors produced by Jaguar and Mercedes, the M5 certainly has to be on top of its game to come out on top.
Inside, there isn’t too much to set this apart from the standard 5-Series (which in fairness, has a fantastic interior) but the subtle extras make the cabin feel like a lovely place for up to five people to sit. The leather-trimmed sports seats are infinitely adjustable, which allows for a perfect driving position whatever your size. The rest of the cabin is roomy, well-built and luxurious, and from a practical point of view, boot space remains at a capacious 520 litres.
Most testers agree that it would be nice if there was a little extra to set the M5 apart from the car it is based on, with one reviewer describing the cabin as still remaining a little too “business-like”.
Previous versions of the M5 have been lauded for their fine handling balance that often put more focussed sports cars to shame. Unfortunately, based on what reviewers say about the latest model, it hasn’t quite lived up to this expectation.
This can partly be blamed on the fact that the M5 weighs a fairly substantial 1,870kg – 90kg more than the old V10-engined M5. No matter how clever the boffins that engineer the chassis are, that is still a considerable mass to move around during enthusiastic driving. This weight problem manifests itself mostly in the braking performance.
Although the six-piston brake calipers up front offer huge stopping power, they are somewhat prone to fading under extreme use. There is the option of an upgrade to much beefier carbon ceramic discs, but they do cost an eye-watering £7,295.
The other issues that testers have centre around the three-way electrically adjustable dampers. In comfort mode, the ride is ideal for UK tarmac, with one tester suggesting that it is “smoother than a normal 5 Series”. Unfortunately the M5 flops around corners a little too much in this setting. Sport mode bumps up the firmness so it handles nicely, but sacrifices too much of the ride quality.
The firmest mode, Sport+, is far too harsh for road use, and was compared to a “bucking bronco” by one critic. Besides this, it reduces the assistance of the power steering, which does nothing other than add “unhelpful weight to the car’s steering without adding road feel.”
At the heart of any good M car is a masterpiece of an engine, and reviews suggest that BMW have created another winner here. Not only does the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 produce a mighty 560hp, but those turbos allow for a gapingly wide powerband. As a result, it offers a 502lb-ft wave from 1,500 right the way through to 5,750rpm.
Of course we all expected it to be fast, but the experts seem amazed at just how quick the new M5 really is. The dash from 0-60 takes only 4.3 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph. The optional M-Driver’s package ups that to 190mph, and an optional Competition pack provides a subtle 15hp boost in power.
The throttle response – normally a weak point of a turbocharged engine – is razor sharp, and turbo lag is “non-existent”. The sound is great too, with a nice bassy growl under acceleration, yet it still manages to settle down to a quiet rumble when cruising.
Complimenting the thunderous engine perfectly, the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is a joy to use. It defaults into auto mode during normal driving, but by nudging one of the wheel-mounted paddles the driver gains control. Whether in auto or manual, the gearbox will “swap ratios with impressive response and precision.”
One of the biggest draws to all the previous M5s has been not just the speed, but also the practicality. It’s just as useable as a normal 5-Series; easy to drive in town, with loads of space and plenty of equipment.
Running costs will of course be high, but a fuel economy figure of 28mpg is a pretty amazing for such a potent car. With an 80 litre fuel tank, a 450 mile range should be very achievable, assuming you can match the claimed figures…
In terms of price, the M5 is – give or take a couple of hundred pounds – the same as the Mercedes E63 AMG, but is about £8,000 more expensive than the Jaguar XFR.
The M5 is one of the true great all-rounders of the automotive world. Crushing performance is perfectly complimented by the practicality of a saloon body. However, one or two negatives – like the lacklustre steering – mean that from a driver’s point of view, the Jaguar XFR and the Mercedes E63 AMG have a slight advantage, and many would argue that they’re both nicer to look at, too.
Still, if you want a comfortable, practical everyday car with supercar-rivalling performance then the new M5 is without doubt a great buy.