BMW M5 review
Simply put, if engineers at BMW M had their way the M5 would not have been built in the configuration you see here. The twin-turbo F10 M5 is merely a necessary response to emissions regulations and nothing more. Now before you choke on your organically grown Oaties, ask any engineer who has worked at M division for 30 years which engine he’d prefer and he’ll tell you in his very best German accent that ‘Ja vell zis is of course ze V10’. This is how the true enthusiasts at M see it as well, most of them at heart wish they could have enhanced that V10 slayer, eeking out every last smidgen of power it had to offer. Most of all, they miss the sound of the V10 screaming its lungs out as it closes in on the 8000rpm limit – as close to the sound of a Formula One racer as production cars get.
GET OVER IT…
That’s exactly what the engineers did after being told they would need to make a new M5, one that’s better in every department than the last while using 30% less fuel. Think of it as being told to work harder, faster and produce better results whilst having your working hours cut from nine hours a day to just six. Turbocharging was the only realistic solution, not just one turbocharger but two. Both nestle cosily between the banks of the new 4.4-litre V8 that whacks out 412kW and 680Nm of road-splitting torque. Even with the 10% increase in power, fuel economy has dropped to 9.9l/100km on the EU combined cycle. Manufacturers may have found ways to optimise EU test results by turbocharging but this doesn’t deny the fact that the numbers still bewilder the brain.
GIDDY UP GREEN BOY
All that really counts when you put your foot down hard on the right pedal of an M-badged Bavarian bahnstormer is do the stars in the sky blur out like the Millennium Falcon preparing to warp? Absolutely! Relentless is the best way to describe it. Vicious acceleration keeps coming, shoving you into the bolstered leather seats and tightening your grip on the thick M wheel. Just as you think it’s starting to peter out, a rifle shot to the kidneys plunges you back into the seat as the unbelievably fast M DCT gearbox fires off a shift. Apparently the standard 8-speed auto can’t cope with the torque wave the M5 delivers so the specialised M DCT is the only option. Three modes are accessible in the gearbox (as opposed to six in the previous model) each mode more chest-cavingly potent then the last. In launch mode the M5 will hit 100kph in 4.4 seconds, with the M package it’ll top out at 305kph and dispense with a kilometre of Tarmac in less than 22 seconds. These figures are all nonchalantly thrown around until you take into account that it weighs 1870kg.
DODGE THIS FATTY
Straight-line speed is one thing, being able to manipulate that weight into something that’s agile and useable is something altogether different (see American muscle cars for how not to do this). For this demonstration I’m going to need the help of the M button, or in this M5’s case the M buttons and a race track. Yes, there are now two M buttons in the car, both completely programmable to suit whatever individual setups you might want. That makes three driving modes to go with the three gearbox settings; three modes to adapt the throttle ferocity and three more modes to stiffen up the steering. Ultimate M mode as I had it set up had all of these options set to Sport Plus (the maximum setting), as well as having the M-differential engaged. The race track I have at hand belongs to some Dutch guy who made billions from some company called Shell Oil. Anyway, none of that matters, save for the fact he has a race track in his garden called Ascari. Longer than any track in South Africa and harvesting great corners from circuits across the globe, this is the perfect place to put this M5’s cornering abilities to the test. It does not disappoint for talent, there is no feasible way that the M5 should be as nimble and chuck-able as this. Two tonnes is nowhere near light but the M5 has such great balance and inspiring response from the chassis. The turbo power from low down explodes in a frenzy turning the car into a lunatic. Just a dash of throttle and the back end fights to break loose, but is just oh so controllable with a touch of countersteer. Pulling the longest and hoontastic power slides is the easiest thing I’ve experienced. Control it with the throttle or the steering and you can manipulate it as though it were under a mind control spell. There are a few minor gripes. One being that the brakes lack feel when worked hard. The engineers could have fitted better brakes (read carbon ceramic) but that would have meant onlookers would have to deal with squeaks and scratching sounds unbecoming of a super limo. The other slight issue is that with normal traction control engaged the M5 will light up the dashboard at even the slightest throttle depression. But that’s turbo power for you though; it comes all in one big wave.
SO THIS IS A MISTAKE?
If this is what happens when the brains behind M cars aren’t completely sold on the parts they’ve been given, I’m sure I would be staggered by what the result could have been. Still, little of that matters now. As for this M5, it’s simultaneously a spacious, luxury sedan and part lunatic. And I’m absolutely in awe of it.