By: Mike Ginsca
The recipe for making the BMW M5 has always been very simple. Take one-part 5-series sedan and add a massive, powerful engine. Since the mid-1980’s, the BMW M5 has always been a wolf a sheep’s clothing due to the mundane exterior but with a heart of a race car. Lately however, it has become packed with more and more new technologies that are supposed to make it not only faster but more fuel efficient and more practical as a daily driven vehicle.
Performance – The first M5 was fitted with the 3.5L inline-6 engine that was first seen in the BMW M1 race car. After a couple generations, the BMW M5 received a V8 and then a screaming V10. Now, for the F10 generation, it is fitted with a V8 again but with two turbochargers in the V-bank of the engine. The reason for having the turbochargers within the “V” area of the engine is to not only make the engine package more compact but to also reduce the length of the intake manifold thus reducing turbo lag. The end result is an engine that has tremendous amounts of power but responds like a naturally aspirated unit. Power is now up to 560hp and torque is up to 502 lb-ft between 1500-5750rpm. This new twin turbo V8 has such a big jump in power when compared with the previous generation V10 that if you stomp on the throttle pedal in second gear, the back end of the M5 begins to dance as the 295 wide rear tires are overwhelmed by the torque and spin endlessly until you reach third gear or traction control interferes. The only downfall to this new engine is the noise that it makes. The old V10 was like a banshee, take it past 4000rpms and it would scream and sound almost like a Ferrari. The new twin-turbo V8 does have a V8 rumble but it is nowhere near as loud because the turbochargers muffle the noise that comes out of the exhaust.
Speaking of gears, the previous generation BMW M5 was notorious for having one of the worst automated manual gearboxes of any vehicle. It was slow, jerky, and it felt like changing gears was done by a 16 year old learning to drive a manual for the first time. Thankfully for the new BMW M5, the engineers fitted the car with a new 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) that is a vast improvement over the last. The driver can still select the ferocity of the gear shifts but whether it’s on a fast or slow setting, shifting is still silky smooth. Also driving purists can rejoice because for the Canadian and American markets, BMW is offering the M5 with a proper 6-speed manual transmission.
When the roads become twisty, the BMW M5 can still claim to be one of the best handling sedans in the world. The reprogrammed M Dynamic mode allows the car to either provide maximum amount of grip for precision driving or it can automatically lock the rear differential and cut back on the traction control to allow some slip through corners for a more enthusiastic driving style. Suspension can also be set to suit the driver’s preference for either a softer and more comfortable setting or a harsher and more aggressive setting. Like the old generation, the BMW M5’s versatility allows it to be as mundane as an ordinary 5-series or a super sports sedan or something in between. It all depends on the driver’s preference.
Comfort – The interior of the new BMW M5 has a feeling of familiarity due to the almost identical design of the old V10 M5. Some minor changes include four separate gauges in the instrument cluster (as oppose to two integrated units), more quick access buttons for the iDrive system, and a new layout for the climate controls. Apart from those changes, it is hard to tell the difference between the old and new models when compared side by side. The materials used in the making of the cabin are still of the highest German quality that one would expect from a six figure vehicle. There are endless options for the colour of the heated and cooled leather seats and the same goes for the trim of the dashboard. Furthermore, the BMW M5 can be fitted with just about every gadget that is available on the market today. 360° camera system, heads up display, lane departure warning, blind side monitoring, night vision with pedestrian detection, Bang and Olufsen sound system, and the list goes on. If you select all of the options that are available on this vehicle, then the price of the BMW M5 goes from just over $100,000 CAD to $150,000 CAD (before taxes). $50,000 is a lot of money for options considering that you can buy another BMW for that same amount of money.
Odds and Ends – Traditionally, the BMW M5 has never had a “look at me!!” exterior styling with massive rear spoilers or outrageous vents in the hood. Granted it does have a lot of M5 badges on the exterior along with a larger front grille to allow more air for the engine but overall it can be easily mistaken for an ordinary BMW 5-series.
It seems that BMW listened to its customers and gave the new M5 a far superior transmission, along with a manual option, and made it into a far better everyday vehicle. There is no place in the world where this car doesn’t feel like it belongs, whether it’s commuting in a city at 10km/h or blasting down an autobahn or having some fun at a race track. This is the perfect all-round vehicle in the world right now.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.