Car Review: Latest BMW M5 lives up to the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker

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Luxury sedans that can double as four-door sports cars used to be the bread and butter for BMW by providing a good all-around muscle sedan with the M5.

Over the years, other manufacturers have caught up. It seemed that BMW had fallen behind some of the newcomers, so last year BMW remade the M5 and it looks to regain its lost glory.

At first, the new M5 makes it seem like BMW may have gone backward with the absence of a manual transmission option and the addition of AWD. But this new M5 quickly puts any doubts to rest with a quick tap of your right foot. This M5 wants to fly and gets to that breaking-the-law speed very quickly.

BMW M5
BMW M5

The twin turbo V8 pumps out 600hp so it won’t be falling behind the competition at say, a drag strip. You won’t really know this is an AWD sedan because the handling limits are very high. You could really only see its full potential on the track. If you don’t want the AWD on you can turn it off and go RWD by managing a few menus in the IDrive system.

While this is great at driving fast, it’s just as adept at the daily commute. The adaptive suspension helps smooth the bumps but the M5 seems a little more firm than the BMW 530.

Those worried about the transmission can take solace that the eight-speed automatic is really solid; one of the better I’ve seen. I miss the manual, but I’m about the only one it seems. My ride had the optional $8,500 M Carbon brakes which made for some eye-popping short stops.

The BMW M5 has a more stealthy approach to styling, no big wings, spoilers or tacky add-ons. It has a more muscular look when compared to other 5 series BMWs. Up front the unique M twin grills plus the lower fascia, which has grown some extra vents, makes it look mean and down to business.

BMW M5 interior
BMW M5 interior

Blacked-out trim pieces are set off beautifully with the Alpine White paint. Large 20-inch wheels set you back just $1,300 and they look just right on this M5.

There are some other hints to the beast that lives under the hood like quad exhaust tips and the rear lower bumper with that aerodynamic diffuser. The roof is carbon fiber, exposed and not painted to match the body color. It looks cool and screams “this isn’t cheap.” With a starting price of $103,000, you won’t see this luxury sedan on every corner.

The M5 I drove had a sticker price of nearly $130,000. Some of the extra cost was from add-ons in the interior. Money was spent on upgraded Aragon Brown Full Marino leather that’s very high quality and makes for very comfortable seats.

Those 20-way power seats have heat, ventilation and massage. Back seat riders have good space for a midsized sedan with good head room and average leg room.

The $4,000 Executive package adds heated rear seats and rear window shades to keep that bright sun out for easier snoozing. Soft close doors add to the luxurious and quiet environment. The package also adds a Wi-Fi hot spot and wireless charging, but my phone didn’t fit the charging pad.

Want Apple CarPlay? It will cost you $300 for some reason. There’s no complaint here about the sound from the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins sound system; a must-have option for audiophiles. The large 10.2-inch screen has sharp graphics. It’s not as crisp as Audi’s system but it’s improved from previous BMWs I’ve driven.

The BMW M5 is back and it’s better than ever with technology and brute force to make it the quickest version yet. With a passion and power, it’s comfortable at the track but it excels at being that ultimate luxury sedan that happens to be able to humble sports cars with ease.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI or Motus One for the purpose of this review.

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