BMW M5 Saloon Review11 November 2020
The M5 has decades of history, stretching over 35 years with BMW creating a total of five models. The styling over the years is more of an evolution than a revolution as they have always had a more reserved look. A car enthusiast will notice the key styling differences with the flared arches and the quad exhausts peeping out of the more aggressive rear bumper with a new aerodynamic diffuser.
The interior is arguably the only place where the BMW drops points over the competition. The 5 Series has a lot of pressable buttons in the centre console, which, to me enables speedy access to what you require on the console system. Whilst there is no arguing that the new RS6 and E63s visually has a crisper and more modern interior, I find this has come at a cost of usability.
Getting into the interior there is a continuity of subtleness. For me, the seats are the highlight which are roomy and comfortable and envelop the M5 logo in the headrest which light up. There are small ‘M’ badges around the cabin but apart from that, there isn’t much else different to the M Sport specification. The key difference is the gear lever; this is the centre piece of the cabin and to a BMW enthusiast, arguably the best feature.
Is there a more practical car….?
The new 5 Series is a bigger and better all-round car compared to its predecessor, with the majority of additional space given to rear passengers and the boot. The M5 is based on the BMW flagship executive model which offers everything you need. You can really feel the executive behind the wheel, with multi adjustable seats extendable on the legs, coupled with the electric steering column you really can mould the car to you, making motorway cruising or hitting the winding B roads a comfortable ride.
For a family car, the M5 ticks all the boxes; the rear doors are vast giving you plenty of room to fit three children or adults where they will find themselves very comfy with lots of headroom. If you are lucky enough to be seated in the front two seats you have extraordinary amount of leg room.
The only area that could make it more practical is for this car to be offered in estate form, like the Mercedes, but does it being a saloon only model make it more exclusive? Personally, I think not but maybe BMW are reserved as the performance estate is historically dominated by the Quattro RS6.
Engine and Gearbox
The biggest ‘News’ on this M5 is that it is the first ‘M’ car to be equipped with the ‘X-Drive’, which, for the true M Petrol Heads was sacrilege. There is a two-wheel drive setting on the vehicle which gives the option to be CRAZY if you can handle the power.
The BMW M5 produces a whopping 592 BHP from its 4.4 litre twin turboV8 engine. The real figure to talk about the whopping 750Nm of torque. This is equipped with an 8-speed automatic gearbox which once dialled into its hardest setting, can do 0-60 in 3.3 seconds.
The engine definitely is the main highlight of the car, and when it is singing it sounds like an American muscle car mixed with a finely tuned Italian supercar. For the road, the 4WD is almost a necessity, either to allow you to drive it in the wet, or for the driver to access all the power on tap available to them. The BMW retains the overall feel and balance of a rear wheel drive car and you would not really know it was a 4WD.
The personalisation on the M5 is incredible, allowing you to pre-programme settings on the steering wheel. The drivers get three increasingly sporty settings covering the steering, suspension and engine response, plus the three settings on the gear lever enabling different intensities in the gear shifts. In the most aggressive form it holds onto the gear and keeps the revs high before it slams the gears into the next. The best way to get the power down on the road is having suspension in comfort where the throttle response in the most aggressive. The steering is very subjective but personally, I like it the middle setting, the most aggressive setting is artificially heavy which takes away from the connection to the road.
Use the M5 softly and the engine is outstandingly quiet, almost to the point where you forget you have a 4.4 V8 engine. Use the M5 hard and you have screaming exhaust notes with pops and bangs on tap. The competition also has the sporty exhaust as standard and this is the key feature for the vehicles split personality.
Mercedes Benz Saloon E63s AMG, Audi RS6 Estate
Naturally, this will be the least of the driver’s worries with the competition starting at £96k it is easy to tip it over the £100k mark. BMW states you can achieve 26.1MPG but from my experience this is unachievable as the temptation to experience the effortless power is too great to drive economically. With a heavy right foot on a country lane you will likely experience single digit MPG figures.
The M5 Competition is still the halo brand of BMW and the prestigious high end sector. The M5 Competition exaggerates the standard M5 ability and it just stimulates the sense ‘more more more’; more drama, more finesse, more rage. But at the same time so subtle and eloquent. That’s the thing with the M5, it can do everything, it is so capable and well-rounded it’s the perfect car for almost every occasion and if you had to pick 1 car to do everything……. I don’t think you could choose a better car!
If you were forced to pick a negative you could argue there is too much power to actually get 100% out of the car on the road, but who can moan about too much power? It just makes it that much more thrilling, plus it is bragging rights at the bar…