The 2018 BMW M5
The do-it-all sedan balances boisterous power and outright competency.
When the original version of the BMW M5 launched in 1985, it established a new format of car; one that mixed the practicality and general usefulness of a sedan with some of the hallmarks of a high-performance sports car. Indeed, while today we may take for granted the fact that all manner of cars, from SUVs to pickup trucks and tiny commuter cars are often offered in a hotter spec, the idea of a truly fast and exciting factory-built German sedan was established by the Bavaria Motor Works when they squeezed a modified version of the engine from their M1 sports car into the sporty chassis of their 535i sedan.
The resulting E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world at the time and many automakers, most notably rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, have been battling for super sedan supremacy for the past 30 years. The 2018 BMW M5, seen here in Marina Bay Blue Metallic, is an example of the sixth-generation M5 based on BMW’s F90 chassis. The M5 is still based on the current 5-Series sedan with the most notable update over the previous F10 generation being the addition of xDrive all-wheel-drive.
The thing to understand about the M5 is that it is a car that sits at the very core of BMW’s personality. The brand developed a name for itself by creating useful, well-built cars that were still sporty and fun to drive. The M5 is that ethos taken to the absolute edge. In a world of compromised CUVs that aren’t all that great at anything, the M5 has long stood as the enthusiast all-around option. With seating for five, all of the modern technology, a lovely interior, and a cavernous trunk, the M5 is subtle enough that most passengers don’t even notice they are in something special until I press the bright red engine stop/start button.
That button awakens a dragon of an engine. A fire-breathing 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that revs to an incredible 7,250 rpm and creates 591 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque―in a four-door sedan with semi-autonomous driving, heated and cooled seats, and enough room for two full child seats in the back (personally tested, my kids love this car). That said, powerful sedans are not exactly uncommon these days, and the M5 has direct competition from Mercedes-AMG, Audi, Cadillac, Porsche, Jaguar, and more.
What BMW does best is blend the character of that hugely powerful engine into a supremely competent sedan (like any other 5-series). So instead of feeling like a hot rod with a giant engine crammed into a chassis unable to handle the power, the M5’s soul is in that engine, but its character is still that of an easy driving, surefooted, and palpable sedan. Even in this bright shade of blue and the sporty wheels, given that most BMWs look rather sporty, the M5 doesn’t stand out. It’s the quiet guy or gal at your office that never makes a fuss but spends their weekends winning marathons or dominating at the local CrossFit gym. The power is there, right under the surface, just waiting for a reason.
Despite the M5’s sedan-appropriate 1,855 kilogram weight, if you put your foot down this executive family-hauler will blast to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds and will continue on to 200 km/h in as little as 11.1 seconds. Keep in mind that those numbers are for the standard M5, as featured here, but BMW has since announced a slightly hotter version called the M5 Competition, which manages the same speeds in 3.3 and 10.8 seconds, respectively.
It’s fast, but with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the M5 is never scary or hard to handle. It puts on immense speed with a sly smile, barely competing for attention with the excellent stereo, the digital dashboard, the heads-up display, the excellent seats, and the generally quiet and luxurious cabin. Also, for those who want their M5 to behave like a classic rear-wheel-drive BMW, there is an optional setting that will disengage power to the front wheels and allow the M5 to operate in a rear-wheel-drive-only mode.
For decades, the BMW’s 5-Series has become the standard in the mid-size executive sedan and the M5 has long stood as its wild and powerful evolution. With the addition of all-wheel-drive to this latest generation, the M5 is easier to drive fast and this new generation is unquestionably the king of the 5-Series.
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