Test Drives

BMW M5 Review 2018: Thunder and Frightening



The BMW M5 now has a staggering 600hp, but gains all-wheel drive, which helps to tame the beast. Slightly. 

Photos: Derryn Wong

SINGAPORE

Was ist dass?
Dass ist der neue BMW M5… er sorry, that’s the new BMW M5. The current 5 Series took a bow last year, being a seriously impressive piece of kit, especially in 540i form. But we’ve all been waiting for the big kahuna of the high-performance sub-brand BMW M – the mighty M5.

(For a short history of M Division, as it was formerly known, read here.)


Bring us up to speed on the M5…
The BMW M5 has always been one of the big guns of the BMW M line-up. The first ‘M5’ after all, was also the first M road car made, in the form of the 1980 E12 M535i, while the E39 V8 and E60 V10 models have made a lasting impression in performance car history.

In 2011, the previous-gen F10 M5 made its debut, with a return to V8 power, and for the first time turbocharging, in the 4.4-litre bi-turbo V8 powerplant. It was an unruly monster, with the tendency to turn its rear tyres into smoke any time DSC was switched off.

That sounds bracing and almost charming. How has it changed?
BMW M’s aimed to maximise traction, in the form of all-wheel drive. But being M, it has also slapped on more power and torque. The updated 4.4-litre V8 now makes 25hp and 70Nm more torque, thanks to significant work from BMW M, including new turbochargers, improved manifolds, cooling, oil system, and a lightened exhaust assembly.

That makes for 600 horsepower, if there is a but, it’s that the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S has even more. But again, BMW M has the remedy to that already in form of the recently announced M5 Competition edition (scroll to the end of this story for the box).

This one looks like sacre blue quick…
More like Marina Bay Blue (the official paint name). There’s the expected side-vents, quad tailpipes and bootlid spoiler.

Bucking the trend of history, this car’s 15kg lighter, thanks mostly to the gorgeous carbonfibre roof (as first seen in mass production on the current M3 and M4), aluminium front fenders and bonnet.

It’s still no flyweight, at 1855kg, but we’re glad for any weight-saving, considering all-wheel drive and the switch to an automatic gearbox (from a dual-clutch unit) usually spells for hefty weight gains.

That’s good. But what we really want to know..
Is how it handles the boring stuff, right? Given the behaviour of the 5 Series, it’s surprise the new car is quite noticeably more refined. Driving in daily, Clark Kent mode it’s almost as enjoyable as a 530i, wafting along in comfort, though the sporty ride setup hints at the brute strength beneath.

What are those two tempting-looking buttons?
Like other M cars, you can dial in driving settings minutely: Steering, gearshifts, power delivery, suspension, stability settings, and engine noise can all be tweaked on various levels. There’s six flavours of gearbox behaviour to choose from, for example.

You can save two presents for quick-draw via the new-look pair of M buttons, which are now prominent, exciting-looking red, mini-paddles.

Is that a press for fun kind of button?

If your definition of fun is having half the willies shocked outta you, sure. The M5 is still no scalpel, but has what seems like bottomless pace and grip. That it’s stupendously quick goes without saying.

The F10 M5 was already wild, this one is almost one whole second faster in the 0-100km/h. At this, the sub-4.5-second end of the acceleration scale, it’s a staggering improvement.

But is it easier to drive?

BMW M says AWD – amongst other changes – makes the M5 even more predictable when driving on the limit. We didn’t get anywhere near the M5’s limits of adhesion on public roads obviously, but the ‘easy’ bit is a little true even if you’re just driving quickly in the constant rain, like we did during our short test drive.

My friend says ‘AWD no good’…

Ask your friend to try the M5 then re-consider. For the truly unhinged and M faithful though, there’s also two-wheel drive mode, only accessed with the DSC totally off, but honestly we didn’t go anywhere near that. If we did, we wouldn’t be writing this story but instead paying for a brand, replacement BMW M5 with a lifetime of manual labour.

The BMW M5 remains an experience that will leave you with sweaty palms even thinking about driving it, but also the sort of wobbly-leg shallow-breathing after effects you’d expect, which we suppose is the entire point of piloting a 600hp super-sedan.

You can’t change the weather, but the AWD-equipped M5 helps make you faster, though perhaps no less intimidated.

BMW M5

Engine 4,395cc, V8, twin-turbo
Power 600hp at 5600-6700rpm
Torque 750Nm 1800-5600rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 3.4 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Efficiency 10.5L/100km
VES Band C2
Agent Performance Munich Autos
Price $528,888 with COE
Availability Now


Healthy Competition

The F10 M5 launched with 560hp, which was upped to 575hp in 2013’s Competition Pack (CP) update, that also included improved suspension setup and a limited slip differential as standard (more traction, addressed). This new M5 has already had its own Competition edition announced, with the following improvements.

– 625hp, 750Nm torque
– 0-100km/h now 3.3 seconds, 0-200km/h 10.8 seconds
– M Sport Exhaust system as standard
– Stiffer engine mounts (580N/mm to 900N/mm)
– More chassis tuning including different mounts, roll-bar, spring and damper tuning, 7mm lower ride height
– Shadow Line trim replaces some chrome parts with gloss black,
– M5 Competition badge
– Available Singapore Q4 2018

 

about the author

avatar
Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.