BMW M5 Review and Specs

BMW M5 Review

Pros

  • Supreme BMW styling
  • Innovative engineering makes for a responsive and enjoyable drive
  • One of the highest safety specs on the market

Cons

  • High purchase costs and poor fuel economy
  • Some stiff competition amongst fellow German brands as well as the more austere top-end Jaguars
  • Very powerful; if you’re in search of something small and nippy, this is not car for you
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Overview, Look, and Feel of the BMW M5

The BMW M5 is the top-of-the-range 5-series sedan from BMW, given its super-luxurious, high-performance ‘M’ treatment. The 5-series has been in production since 1972 and sold more than 5 million models worldwide. The M5 model, which was first showcased at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1984, is hailed for showcasing some of BMW’s most innovative vehicle engineering.

The BMW M5 is the top-of-the-range 5-series sedan from BMW, given its super-luxurious, high-performance ‘M’ treatment. The 5-series has been in production since 1972 and sold more than 5 million models worldwide. The M5 model, which was first showcased at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1984, is hailed for showcasing some of BMW’s most innovative vehicle engineering.

BMW M5 Engine Specs and Performance

The first M5 was built using the 535i chassis and a modified BMW M1 engine, with subsequent models using the successive BMW 5-series platforms. Declaring that an ‘M’ car should ‘always combine efficiency with emotion,’ BMW introduced the M5 with a Getrag SMG III single-clutch 7-speed semi-automatic transmission, which shifts gear in a remarkable 65 milliseconds and boasts a whole host of special features, such as a hill holder, specific drive programme for steep ascents, and a downshift assistant to avoid the destabilising effects of wheel spin. This was later joined by a more conventional 6-speed manual transmission; although it is marginally slower, this is offset by the improvement in relative smoothness.

Highlighting the M5’s position at the head of the pack, the vehicle boasts some engine and transmission controls that are more than a little inspired by Formula One. These include a Launch Control feature for automatic, high-performance standing starts and a number of adaptable features linked to the Getrag SMG III single-clutch transmission.

The M5 has seen various incarnations – which generation you choose will depend on personal preference and on your budget too. One of the most popular used M5s is the relatively recent Super Sedan, with its 4.4-second gallop to 100 km/h and top speed of 305 km/h. This compares pretty favourably with its V-10 powered predecessor at 4.7 seconds, though it is a fraction slower than its near rival, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan.

Standard Equipment and Options for the BMW M5

As BMW’s flagship high-performance sedan, the M5 boasts a whole raft of luxury features to set it apart from the crowd. Expect to find a leather steering wheel, M-specific gear shifter, M-specific instrument panel with black-panel technology, leather-covered central console, sports seats with merino leather trim, aluminium interior trim strips, split-zone climate control to a total of 4 zones, anthracite roof liner, adjustable steering wheel, zenon headlights, and ambient lighting. Its 19-inch double-spoke light alloy wheels come as standard on fifth-generation models, though the sixth-generation features 18-inch alloys as standard with the 19-inch alternatives as an option.

The options range in general is huge for whichever generation you are considering, much as you would expect of a car of this calibre. These options include adaptive headlights, high-beam assistance, pedestrian recognition night-vision system, and a host of other safety warning systems.

Safety-wise the 5-series has always been at the front of the pack and the M5 is certainly no exception. You will find it packed full of airbags, anti-lock brake systems, and superb body engineering designed to maximise safety and minimise injury in the event of a collision. The standard and optional-extra warning systems are a feast for the senses and help to position the M5 as a frontrunner for those in the market for a high-quality, high-performance car that delivers well beyond what it says on the tin.

BMW M5's Competition

For those who prefer something just a little smaller (and a little gentler on the pocket), BMW’s own M3 is a popular alternative to the M5. Unsurprisingly, the M5’s real competition comes from the top-of-the-range models from fellow German brands including Audi and Mercedes-Benz, while Jaguar also gives it a run for its money.

If you are considering buying an M5, you may also want to consider the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, with its 6.2L V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive or the Audi RS6, with a 5.0L 10-cylinder engine, four-wheel drive, and sports-automatic transmission. Also take a look at the Jaguar XFR, with a 5.0L supercharged V8 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. In terms of fuel economy, the M5 sits somewhere in the middle of the pack, with the Audi proving to be a little more thirsty at 13.9 L/100km – but in this price bracket, who’s really counting?

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