Test Drives

BMW M5 review



The refreshed BMW M5 boasts better steering and more driver involvement thanks to the Competition Package option, but it’s still quite a wayward beast

The F10 BMW M5 was always a sort of mixed beast. On paper it’s sleeker, more efficient and way, way faster than the old V10-powered E60 model – 10 percent more power and 30 percent more torquey/less thirsty at the same time.

Yet as a driver’s car it always left us feeling a little unloved, a trait that can be traced to the burgeoning size of the F10 platform itself, a class-leader in terms of space and wheelbase, longer than the previous 7 Series and rather mass-ive to boot.

But BMW’s been quick to remedy the weaknesses of the regular 5 Series, as tests of the sedan and GT variants have shown, and that didn’t stop the car from being a Singaporean best-seller back in 2011. Now, BMW M has gotten around to sprucing up the baddest 5 Series too.

As with the normal 5, the actual face-lifted bits aren’t extensive – the most visible evolution will be the headlights, which go from xenons to a full LED setup and is still active, as it was before. Along with thin-strip LED taillights, it does bring the M5 up to date with its M6 brothers too, although the lack of obvious bulges makes the sedan look more understated.

On the inside the steering wheel has been redesigned, and the updated iDrive system now comes with the very-easy-to-use doodle-pad controller that’s bigger than before. Also there is more storage space in the armrest console.

Exciting times, yes, but the biggest change to the M5 (and the M6s too) is the new Competition Package (CP), similar to what the E92 M3 got during its mid-life cycle. The CP is an option elsewhere, but standard on cars sold by Munich Automobiles here.

For a start, it adds 15bhp to the already considerable output of the engine, making a total of 575bhp and the same 680Nm of torque. What we’ve said before about the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 still applies: treat it gently and you’ll hardly know you’re in an M5, then floor it and you find out how brutally quick the machine is. It doesn’t so much haul ass as haul the entire farm’s livestock all at once.

Torque peaks at just 1,500rpm, but it the real hammer blow is dealt at 2,000rpm and above. It’s something you need to watch out for and don’t say we didn’t warn you. As some of our (non-CarBuyer) colleagues found out at Sepang, unless you’re ready for it, don’t drive the M5 fast and with the traction control off. If you do, have a progressive right foot.

 

There’s a sport exhaust system that comes with the CP, signified by the black chrome tailpipes, and it adds a little more thunder to the M5’s soundtrack. It can’t hold a candle to the optional full titanium system from Akrapovic, of course, but lets you enjoy the V8 purr over a wider range of situations – it even hisses a little on full bore acceleration.

It’s almost needless to say, but the M5 is still ridiculously quick. On smaller roads it feels barely contained, while it simply teleports from place to place on the highway, such is the usable power served up by the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and V8 monster.

The M5 still demands respect, but now it also plays more to the driver’s needs, thanks in part to the Competition Package. M says it’s re-done the (hydraulic) steering for more feel and that helps the car to feel a lot more focussed than before, as the old car could ape a 550i even closer than this one does.

M has also re-tuned the suspension and set-up ‘significantly’, with what feels like stiffer damper and spring rates, and lowered the suspension by a further 10mm. As a result, acceleration, cornering and braking all feel a little more precise and direct, while ride quality is more firm than before, but still comfortable for daily driving in ‘Comfort’, tolerable in ‘Sport’, and track only for ‘Sport+’.

 

What’s a pity is that one of the niggles of the original F10 M5 is still there, the fact that the car still pitches back and forth considerably, along with significant vertical movement, when it goes over road depressions at speed.

The M5 is still a ridiculously powerful super sedan, one that can make almost any tarmac road seem dirt-paved because of its thunderously-powerful, torque-monster of a V8. The Competition Package adds a little more usable dynamism, but you’d better be a ballsy driver if you want to get the most out of the M5. For the rest of us, luckily, the M5 is still happy enough to cruise around and maintain a civil image.

BMW M5 Competition Package

NEED TO KNOW
Engine 4,395cc, 32V, twin-turbo, V8
Power 575bhp at 6000-7000rpm
Torque 680Nm at 1500-5750rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 4.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 9.9L/100km
CO2 232g/km
Price $563,800 with COE

Also Consider: Audi RS 6, Avant, Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG

Photos by Derryn Wong

 

about the author

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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.