What is it: This is the sixth-gen M5, new for 2018. Compared to the outgoing M5 this one is bigger but also lighter – even BMW employees thought the old one was too heavy. The only transmission is a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive is standard. Before you whine, realize there hasn’t been an M5 with a manual transmission and rear wheel drive in years. Sign of the times.
Key Competitors: Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S, Audi RS7
Base Price: $104,595 As-Tested Price: $129,795
Full review: 2018 BMW M5 first drive
Highlights: With 60 mph arriving in 3.2 seconds and a 189 mph top speed, you’re looking at the quickest M5 ever. The 2019 model year sees some minor changes: The M5 Competition Sedan is introduced, with horsepower rising to 617 and a chassis tuned for even sharper handling.
Our Opinion: I have whined about BMWs for years. I’ve beefed about the high prices, once writing “BMW has gone completely out of its corporate mind on pricing.” I’ve complained about everything from the company’s convoluted car names to the confusing iDrive systems to individual models having too many variations. Mostly, though, I’ve crabbed about the way BMWs ride too harshly on their runflat tires. “Runflat tires and their lousy ride have basically ruined my BMW love,” I once wrote. “And I did have BMW love back in the day,” I continued. “One of the first cars I remember falling in love with as a wee lad was a BMW 507. I lusted after 2002s in high school. For years I thought a 5-series wagon was the perfect car. But driving runflat-equipped 3-series over the years turned me off to BMWs.” Those are just from a list I keep in my head. There are many more.
So you can understand my skepticism when BMW’s latest M5 showed up at Autoweek HQ. Now I’ve driven it. If this is the direction BMW is headed, it might be time for me to adjust my attitude — I like the new M5. A lot.
It’s actually a few cars in one. It’s a boisterous muscle car able to post near-supercar numbers. It’s a quiet, tame boulevard cruiser. It’s a composed and comfy luxury car ideal for long trips. Dialing up the right electronics, I can adjust steering weight, shock absorber stiffness, throttle mapping (comfort, sport, sport+ modes), all independently. I can adjust the transmission’s shifting speeds. It all allows me to pick the M5 I want whenever I want it depending on my mood, and also means the M5 handles everything I can throw at it. The acceleration is tremendous from the lowest revs but I can’t really get the chassis upset even when I try. And the comfort setting is perfect for serene cruising. The ride isn’t too stiff and the seats feel comfy enough for an all-day drive. The automatic gearbox works fine, swapping gears smoothly, swiftly and unobtrusively. Steering feel and weight is excellent regardless of mode.
About that tremendous acceleration: The new M5 is as quick to 60 mph as almost anything out there, and its top speed would be too, except BMW limits it to 155 mph (189 mph only if you get the optional M Driver’s Package). The 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 and eight-speed put the 591 hp down smoothly and immediately, no matter the road surface or condition.
This is in large part thanks to the car’s four-wheel drive system. BMW calls it MxDrive and it’s slick. There are various modes here, too: four-wheel drive (4WD), 4WD sport and 2WD. The front axle is only driven when I want it; even then the electronic center diff sends power frontward only when it senses the electronically controlled limited-slip in the rear has run out of traction.
Overall it’s really quite a remarkable car, one I would happily drive everyday. Like I said, if this is the direction BMW is headed, I might need a BMW re-think.
—Wes Raynal, editor
Options: M carbon ceramic brakes ($8,500), executive package including soft-close automatic doors, rear sunshades, front ventilated seats, front and rear heated seats, four zone climate control, front massaging seats, parking assistant plus, wireless charging, WiFi hotspot, enhanced USD and Bluetooth, active park distance control, rear view camera, surround view w/3D view ($4,000), Aragon brown full merino leather ($3,500), Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400), M driver’s package ($2,500), driving assistance plus including active driving assistant plus ($1,700), 20-inch M light alloy wheels ($1,300), Apple CarPlay compatibility ($300)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $104,595
As Tested Price: $129,795
Powertrain: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, eight-speed automatic, AWD
Output: 591 hp @ 5,600-6,700 rpm; 553 lb-ft torque @ 1,800-5,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,370 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.1 sec
Fuel Economy: 15/21/18 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Fast, comfortable, well built