Can the new BMW M5 match it's legendary status? We test the £90,000 super-saloon that hits 62mph in 3.4 seconds
- The M5 will cost the average owner in the region of £100k with various extras
- The new BMW accelerates from rest to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds
- It has a 600 horse-power twin-turbo 4.4 litre V8 engine linked to a new eight-speed ‘M Steptronic’ automatic gearbox with manual override
The fastest and most expensive BMW M5 – that accelerates from rest to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds - has hit the road and the race track to show that it really means business.
And I’ve been behind the wheel of the blistering new four-door, five-seater, four-wheel drive super-saloon from BMW’s ‘M’ for Motorsport division, on both the highway and the racing circuit, at its international launch in and around Lisbon in Portugal.
With a pedigree going back 33 years to 1984, the taut and well-toned sixth-generation of this German autobahn-stormer is a master of discretion.
The BMW M5 is powered by a 600 horse-power twin-turbo 4.4 litre V8 engine
Outwardly smart and sophisticated, underneath lurks a real bruiser in a Boss suit, with amazingly well controlled power and agility and little outward sign of the the hard-earned muscle-definition lying beneath.
If this car were a person it would be actor Tom Hardy at his thespian best – displaying a hint of real menace beneath the impeccable manners.
It is a true wolf in an Alsatian's clothing.
And while the new M5 is packed with driving stability technology, experienced owners who want a more pure driving experience can switch it off for the full-fat performance.
It’s a serious car to treat with deep respect and not one for the rank amateur boy racer whose days might be numbered if they play fast and loose with it.
Aimed at well-heeled and deep-pocketed executives who want excitement on their daily commute while also being cosseted in luxury, the sixth generation of the five-seater high-performance M5 costs from £89,640.
But most of those customers will load it up with so many extras that it will cost them around £100,000 with first deliveries in February.
With a big boot and plenty of comfort, BMW reckons it combines ‘the best of both worlds as a high performance sports car and business vehicle’ and expects to sell around 950 in the first full year, or about double the 466 sold in 2016.
Powered by a mighty and enhanced 600 horse-power twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine linked to a new eight-speed M Steptronic automatic gearbox with manual override, BMW is billing the new car as ‘the fastest M5 yet’ with a level of performance that ‘surpasses all previous incarnations.'
Ray Masey, inside the new BMW M5, which combines supercar performance with luxury
What's the M5 like to drive?
Pay £2,100 and you can go faster
M5 buyers who go for the £2,095 driver’s pack can lift the 155mph electronically restricted cap and enjoy a 190mph top speed - if they ever drive the car anywhere it can go that fast legally.
Standard kit on the new M5 includes 20 inch M light alloy double-spoke wheels, park distance control, 10.25 inch control display, head up display, dynamic LED brake lights, front heated seats, and BMW sat-nav with real time traffic information.
Tempting extras that can push up the spending to £100,000 or more include carbon ceramic brakes, an M Sport exhaust system, night vision, an electric glass sunroof, sun-blinds, active cruise control with stop and go, soft-close doors, a tow-bar, a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, Apple CarPlay and online entertainment.
It accelerates from rest to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds and up to 124mph where legal – such as German motorways and race-tracks- in just 11.1 seconds, with the top speed electronically restricted to 155mph.
But you won’t save the planet with average fuel economy given optimistically as 26.9mpg and hefty CO2 emissions of 241g/km, meaning a high road tax band.
I first took the new M5 out on the road up motorways and in the winding mountain and coastal roads near Lisbon and Sintra.
Fire up the engine via the big red start button and grip the chunky leather-clad steering while housing a host of control buttons, I’m off.
Even at a crawl it does feel really muscular and beefed up, giving a sense of the raw power waiting to be unleashed.
And when I did put my foot down there was a reassuring growl from the twin exhaust system and no shortage of pulling power on the main highways.
It’s well fettled and confident on those tight bends.
Ray Masssey took the new M5 out on the road up motorways and in the winding mountain and coastal roads near Lisbon and Sintra, in Portugal
Here’s why. As well as having an automotive workout at the BMW gym it’s also been on a diet and is lighter than its predecessor thanks to features such as a roof made of lightweight but tough carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and an aluminium bonnet.
It features a range of dynamic settings that mean you can tune the driving mode – Comfort, Sport and SportPlus – to tweak the steering, shock-absorbers and gear changes - to suit your mood via a central controller.
Two red-laquered buttons next to the gear-shift paddles on the steering wheel control the drive settings. But most of the driver dynamics can also be set up via the central touch screen display, which includes gesture control.
An exceptionally useful head-up display allows you to read all the key data – including sat-nav directions and speed limits – as you look through the windscreen rather than having to divert your gaze to the side.
The new M5 guzzles fuel so it only does 26.9mpg and has hefty CO2 emissions of 241g/km but you don't buy one for its green credentials
The M5 is all about luxury inside
Climb inside and you are firmly but comfortably supported in racing-style seats designed to provide better shoulder support and more pronounced side edges and backrest.
The seats in fine grain Merino leather are now multi-functional as standard with electric controls, heaters, and memory settings to suit ‘all shapes and sizes of driver.'
The driver’s seat and dashboard have also been ergonomically designed so that all the key switches and function buttons are directly within his or her field of vision.
The large digital display carried over from the standard 5-series has been re-configured for the new M5 and includes a speed warning alarm that warns the driver of the optimal time to switch gear when driving in manual mode.
WILL IT FIT IN MY GARAGE?
New BMW 5
Price: from £89,640 (most customers will spend more than £100k including ‘extras’)
First UK deliveries: February 2018
Width: 1903mm Height: 1473mm
Engine: Enhanced 4.4litre V8 petrol engine with BMW M TwinPower Turbo.
Power: 600PS (horse-power)
Gears: New 8-speed automatic M Steptronic with Drivelogic and manual override
Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited.
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds; 0-124mph in 11.1 seconds.
Average mpg: 26.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 241g/km
When I drove off in the car the default setting was four-wheel drive with the dynamic stability control – which reacts to conditions, corrects your mistakes and helps keep you better rooted to the road – switched on and active.
But the performance characteristics of the engine can be tailored at the push of a button from ‘Efficient’ to ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ which boost the turbo response and give more oomph.
New turbochargers with a higher injection pressure mean shorter injection times and better fuel atomisation making it faster and more efficient.
The M5’s newly developed and intelligent all-wheel drive ‘M xDrive’ system brings the front wheels into play only when the rear wheels reach ‘the limits of adhesion’.
That means the car’s driver-friendly dynamic stability control kicks in only when necessary in ‘extreme’ situations. That is, to help prevent you from ‘losing it’.
But what BMW terms ‘enthusiastic drivers’ can set the system according to their mood or needs. In the default setting, with the dynamic stability and four-wheel-drive systems switched on, the car has the typical but ‘forgiving’ characteristics of a rear-wheel drive car accelerating out of a corner.
Switch to ‘M Dynamic Mode’ with four-wheel drive Sport and the car becomes even sharper and more agile as more pulling power or torque is fed to the rear wheels and gives more ‘slippage’: This allows controlled drifts and playful handling, but with controlled oversteer.
However, BMW notes with a mild warning: ’The pure rear-wheel 2WD mode is designed for track use by experienced drivers and is dedicated entirely to pure driving pleasure without extractive control systems.’
You can leave the eight-speed gear-box in automatic mode or, for a more engaging drive, play around manually using the paddles on the steering wheel or the shift-leaver on the gear selector.
Again, there are choices to be made – this time with the responsiveness of the gearbox. Mode 1 in the drivelogic set-up is for efficient driving and gives you gear shift timings aimed at comfort in everyday driving. Mode 2 shortens the gear-shift times for fast driving. And Mode 3 is for use on the race track with ‘extremely short shift times.’
New exterior colours are available in bold metallic Marina Bay blue
But while it can be a bit of a beast when required, it is also easy to handle around town and when manoeuvring and parking, with rear camera aids helping the latter.
Such awesome power needs good brakes. Blue-painted six piston callipers ventilated disc brakes using a special lighter weight compound come as standard, with gold-coloured carbon ceramic brakes available as an option.
The design of the car is also engineered to improve performance. The face at the front is aerodynamically shaped to splice the incoming air and reduce any drag or resistance while at the same time feeding the 600hp engine with air and also cooling it down, providing downforce to keep the car glued to the road, and also cooling the brakes, especially when on the track.
Even the wing mirrors are aerodynamically-shaped to reduce drag.
Special new exterior colours have also been developed including the bold metallic Marina Bay blue, with mat shades such as Frozen Dark Silver and Frozen Arctic grey.
Testing of the new M5 took place on the in-house race-track in Miramas, France, and on the infamous Nordschleife Nuerburgring track in Germany, and they have also developed a track ‘Safety Car’ version to officiate at MotoGP motor cycle grand prix races.
When I took out an M5 for myself on the race-track at Estoril near Lisbon with young BMW works driver Nico Menzel leading me on in the car in front, I didn’t even get close to exploiting its racing and dynamic capabilities, though on one lap with nearly all the dynamic driving aids turned off, I did genuinely experience the thrill of the extra wheel twitch and responsiveness, with a little bit of ‘drifting’ of my own.
Frankly, it’s a far more capable car than I will ever be a driver. But quite an achievement for all that.
Six of the best: 33 years of the M5
Six of the best: Ray Massey photographed with the six generations of BMW M5
A lot happened in 1984.
Bob Geldof’s ‘Band Aid’ campaign was storming the charts with ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas’ to highlight the famine in Ethiopia, the Miners’ Strike was in full flow, the first hand-held Motorola mobile phone went on sale in the USA for around £3,000, a new movie version of George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’ hit the screens, and Apple launched its new Macintosh computer with a remarkable advert directed by Ridley Scott that smacked of the ‘Big Brother’ movie of which it was a pastiche.
And Munich-based BMW launched the first of its now half-dozen scintillating motorsport-inspired M5 sporting saloon cars. From then until the present day, here are the six of the best from BMW’s Motorsport division.
1: 1984: BMW M5 (codenamed E28S)
The first generation M5 (Type E28S) introduced in the autumn of 1984 and became the fastest four-door production saloon of its time. Powered by a 24-valve six-cylinder 3.5-litre engine with 286PS (horse-power) from the mid-engined M1 sports car, it accelerated from rest to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 152mph.
2. 1988: BMW M5 (codename E34S / E34 / 5S)
The second generation M5 launched in 1988 featured a 3.6-litre engine developed 315PS and for the first time reached 155mph. A later variant featured a 3.8-litres 340PS engine and from 1992 a ‘Touring’ estate version appeared, of which only 900 were made.
3. 1998: BMW M5 (codename E39S)
Though externally as discreet as its predecessors, the third generation M5 packed a 400 horse-power 5.0-litre 32-valve V8 under its bonnet and accelerated from rest to 62mph in just 5.3 seconds with top speed restricted to 155mph.
4. 2005: BMW M5: (codename E60 / E61)
The fourth generation M5 featuresd a new 5.0-litre V10 engine with 507PS and sprinted from rest to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds with top speed limited to 155mph. Some markets allowed the driver to cancel the maximum speed limit , raising it to 189mph. It introduced automated Sequential M Transmission with seven gears and ‘launch control’ for maximum acceleration.
5. 2010: BMW M5 (codename F10M)
The fifth generation BMW M5 featured the first generation of the current 4.4-litre V8-Biturbo with 560PS – and had almost double the performance of the first M5. It sprinted to 62mph in 4.3 seconds, via a new 7-speed M twin-clutch transmission and had an unrestricted top speed of 189mph. An M5 with Competition Package variant arrived in 2013 with 575PS, while a special 30th anniversary model with 600PS, of which only 300 were built, arrived in 2014.
6. 2017: BMW M5: (Codename F90)
New BMW M5 is unleashed ahead of hitting UK showrooms in February 2018.
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