What is it?
Except for the matte colour, the car you see on your screen might look like any other BMW 5-Series. But what lies under the chiseled bonnet gives this car the ability to give most supercars nightmares. Hail the sixth (F90) generation M5, which is faster than ever before thanks to the stonking 4.4-litre petrol engine that now produces a mighty 591 bhp of power. This new M5 is replacing a predecessor that was loved and hated equally. Loved because it was extremely fast but hated because it was heavy, too toned down and wasn’t as evocative as an M car should feel. So there is a lot riding on this new M5 and we drove it extensively to find-out if BMW has managed to deliver the ultimate luxury sport sedan to shut all the naysayers up.
So, how will the neighbors know that you've bought a bonkers version of the 5 Series? Well, they'll have to look for the quad-exhaust pipes sticking out the back, the hard-to-miss 20-inch rims and the discreet M5 badge on the boot-lid and the front grille. Other hints include the discreet spoiler on the boot, the aggressive chin, the extended side sills and the chiseled vents on the front fenders. Some may be disappointed with its lack of visual flare, but M-cars have always been discreet and this characteristic has always been part of the M5’s appeal.
The new 5 Series already uses lightweight materials and on top of that the M division has added lighter body panels like the carbon fibre roof and aluminium bonnet and front fenders. This has resulted in a car that is 15kg lighter than the old F10 M5 despite having all-wheel-drive hardware. The xDrive four-wheel drive system is predominantly rear-driven, and it sends power to the front axle when needed through a chain drive and electronically actuated clutch.
How is it on the inside?
The M5’s cabin is a special place to be in. At first glance, you might mistake the interiors of the M5 for the regular 5 Series. But it’s the details which make it really stands out. The red switchgear, illuminated M logos in the seat headrest and carbon fibre panels make one feel special. Then there are the sports front seats which not only look fantastic, but are equally snug and comfortable. The ambient lighting just adds to the cabin and the backlit Bowers and Wilkins speakers look space-age.
The driving position is a tad high by M car standards. Still, finding a comfortable posture is easy thanks to the powered front seats and the generous level of steering adjustment. Unlike sports cars, the M5 doesn’t have any of their shortfalls. This five-seat express offers great front seat space and even the rear occupants have enough legroom for one six-footer to sit behind another, and the boot is big too. This means that despite its sporting credentials, this car can be chauffer-driven as well.
This is also an exceptionally well-specced car. It comes with a generous kit that includes a fantastic sounding Bowers and Wilkins sound system, full led headlights, the intuitive iDrive system with gesture control and a head-up display amongst others.
How does it drive?
The new M5 uses the same turbo-charged V8 motor as the old car albeit, making more power and torque. Displacing 4395cc and shod with two turbo chargers, this engine produces a healthy 591bhp and 750Nm of torque. This engine features Valvetronic and direct injection which allows the motor to make huge amounts of torque at low engine speeds, and there’s 750Nm of twist from just 1800rpm. The two twin scroll turbo-chargers are also placed in the V-shaped space between the cylinder banks. These arrangements help in keeping the engine compact and reduce pipe length and help lessen pressure losses on the exhaust side of the engine.
You might want to sit down for this bit. The standing start acceleration numbers of the new BMW M5 recorded are genuinely staggering. This is a luxury car – five metres in length and weighs almost two tonnes – that outsprinted the mighty Audi R8 V10+ we tested two years back. Figures of 3.29 seconds to 100kmph, 6.36 seconds to 150kmph and 10.88 seconds to 200kmph are just staggering. These mind numbing figures are also achieved thanks to the AWD traction and the aggressive launch control system. One should also note, we do our Vbox testing with two people onboard.
The AWD system also makes this ludicrous performance accessible as the M5 has loads of grip and traction even in slippery condition. Bottom-end responses are strong and the engine truly comes into its own past 3500rpm, where you have to hold on to the steering for dear life as you speed towards the horizon. Funny thing is, that same engine is subtle at lighter loads. The accelerator pedal is calibrated with skilled judgement. The first inch of travel is gentle enough to allow smooth progress at low speeds, and the urgency from the engine builds as you dig deeper. Only when you get into the last inch of the travel, the M5 really comes alive.
The intimacy of its engine is well complemented by its dynamic abilities. Everything the M5 does – from the way it feels hunkered down while turning into a corner, to the way the powerful brakes work, and even the way it somehow finds the grip to cleanly accelerate out of a bend truly baffles you. You always know where you are with this car. And considering just how insanely fast it is, that is arguably its greatest achievement. Setting up the M5’s handling to your liking is a lengthy and tedious process. Along with three settings for the dampers, steering, gearbox and engine, it also has three different settings for the AWD drivetrain (4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD). After fiddling with different drive modes, my preferred setting was Comfort for steering and dampers, Sport + for gearbox and engine and 4WD sport for the drivetrain. With this setting I found the M5 was able to handle our less-than-perfect roads really well without getting unsettled. When you select 4WD Sport, the ESP partially deactivates and the amount of fun you can have in this big luxury sedan is unparalleled. Only once was I able to summon the courage to select 2WD, for in this mode you have to be really careful as 591 horses going only through the rear wheels with TCS off is a recipe for disaster and is best used on a racetrack.
I wasn’t expecting the M5 to have a comfortable ride but I was pleasantly surprised. The M5’s suspension is surprisingly pliant for a sports sedan. Where it is less than impeccable is when there are quick, sharp hits taken at speed, such as big potholes or drain covers, and even then, only vibrations and a thud intrudes the cabin. All in all, the ride is surprisingly good which makes it well suited to our driving environment.
Should I buy one?
The M5 is not only quick and beautifully made, it gives you an experience which we look for in cars of this kind - right from the addictive engine performance to the great chassis balance. The M5 ticks all the boxes you expect from a sports sedan. It is outrageously fast, is fun around bends, has a high-quality cabin, looks handsome, is practical as an everyday car and is absurdly expensive. The M5 is, without a doubt, one of the finest cars to come with an M badge. Priced at Rs 1.7 crore (On-road, Mumbai) the M5 is extremely expensive, but if you can afford one, there are very few cars that can match its wide range of abilities.
Where does it fit it?
The M5 is among BMW's fastest models ever. It costs Rs 1.7 crore on-road Mumbai and it's arch nemesis is the Mercedes E63 AMG which is priced similarly, at Rs 1.78 crore.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi