The BMW M5 gives you so much to talk about, from its slick executive design to the fancy all-wheel-drive system to the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that makes 600 horsepower. But what might matter more than any of that is whether the car comes together cohesively with its own personality.
Engine: 4.4L twin-turbo V8
Output: 600 hp, 553 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (MPG): 15 city, 21 hwy, 17 combined
Fuel Economy (L/100 km): N/A
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 3.2 seconds
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.4 seconds
US Price: $104,695
CAN Price: $113,300
But after a week of testing the BMW, it turns out that there’s an excess of personalities in the M5, making it a jack of all trades.
Can it Family?
It’s definitely a family-friendly grocery getter, with a large back-seat and cargo area. The rear seats can even be folded down for additional space.
Baby seats would be no problem, and driving around town can be a smooth and effortless thanks to the various adjustable drive modes of the M5. Put the suspension and steering in comfort mode and the car feels like a normal 5 Series.
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While there are memory seats, drivers can also use the two M buttons on the steering wheel to switch between two combinations of drive modes, meaning if one driver is more aggressive or more relaxed than the other, they can set up all the car’s attributes to suit their driving style and pair it to an M button.
It’s also a very understated car despite all the power, performance and capability it packs. You can pick up kids from school without embarrassing anyone or making a scene. In-laws won’t believe that the car is as fast as some supercars, and the interior is well laid out and logical.
Can it Sports Car?
When it’s not driven like a luxury family sedan, it can be driven like a purpose-built speed machine. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, good for a 3-second or so sprint to highway speeds. Press your luck and the car can hit a top speed of 189 miles an hour. It’s a bit faster than the chief competition, the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, but the AMG will always sound better. The AMG is also available as a wagon, which the BMW is not. Sad.
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An eight-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes, and there are three degrees to the speed and sportiness of the automatic that help it feel more aggressive and snappier. You also have a manual mode, which also behaves differently depending on what mode you’re in.
Several parts of the car can be put in sport and sport plus mode, including the engine and suspension settings, but the most surprising is the traction and stability controls that can switch to an all off mode with all-wheel drive, and another mode that only sends power to the rear wheels.
It’s an incredibly complicated speed machine, and every stab at the throttle brings the horizon noticeably closer. Does it handle? Yes and no. It’s hard to make such a big car feel as agile as a pure sports car, but its much more fun than a car this size is expected to be. Grip and traction are here, and the steering, while not worthy of setting any benchmarks, is pretty good.
Can It Chauffer?
When not driven in anger, the M5 could double as a limousine. It’s quiet, smooth and gets you where you’re going without any worries.
It also has a ton of technology to help that cause. Despite this being the sporty choice, BMW didn’t skimp out on any safety or driver assistance features, letting the pilot take a break and hand things over to the computers and sensors to handle some of the burdens of driving.
The advanced driver assistance package keeps the car centered and out of danger thanks to the lane keep assistance, and there’s a traffic jam assist, which is a full-speed adaptive cruise control that helps to bring the car to a stop when the vehicle in front of you stops and get going again when the car in front moves.
There are other luxurious limo-like qualities and features like the massage seats and the soft-close doors that help sell this car as more than just a speedy sedan.
But who can relax when there are so many gizmos and gadgets to check out?
People are always impressed by the gesture controls, which allow you to answer or dismiss phone calls, change the volume and change the radio stations, without having to touch the screen or use the voice recognition system. It may not be the most useful feature, but it has a wow-factor that people are always intrigued by.
Same goes for the digital display key that can show off useful information like fuel level, and you can even remotely park the car with the key.
I also can’t get enough of the 16-speaker, 1,400 watt Bowers and Wilkins sound system. Many say that the car is the worst place to listen to music since there are so many unpredictable acoustic elements, but this sound system does a great job of letting your music sound great.
It’d be nice if the speakers were as eye-catching as the Burmeister speakers in Mercedes products, and BMW still charges extra for Apple CarPlay support, which is usually standard equipment in more mainstream cars.
I also can’t help but think that some of those other features are very gimmicky and useful only to show people that you’re driving a fancy, high-tech car that has these unique features, but don’t really add much to the experience.
Some might see the $104,695 starting price and think that’s a lot for a BMW sedan, but in certain perspectives, the M5 can be seen as a bargain. It’s a few cars in one – a family sedan, a high-tech flagship, a sports car, and executive luxury limo.
However, it’s a jack of all trades, which means it’s not truly the best car for a singular purpose. If you wanted a more family oriented vehicle, a crossover or SUV could do the trick with more passenger room and cargo space, as well as road trip essentials like loads of cupholders and USB ports.
If you wanted a pure sports car, you could certainly find one that’s more agile and engaging than the M5, and spend less money on it. Maybe it wouldn’t come with the same straight-line speed that the 600-horsepower engine and a performance all-wheel-drive system brings, but something that’s better tailored to be a sports car from the get-go should be infinitely more fun than a car that’s designed to be an executive sports sedan.
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If you wanted a pure luxury sedan or a high-tech wonder, then why not shop the full-bore 7 Series, for example, or cars with hands-free driving technology like the Cadillac CT6 with Super cruise. Some who want to have the latest and greatest technology might prefer to be an early adopter of EV tech opting for something like a Tesla or Jaguar I-Pace.
The Verdict: 2018 BMW M5 Review
But in the end, the BMW M5 combines bits and pieces from all over the automotive landscape to deliver a car with a lot to offer. Why get four or five specialty cars when one can do it all to varying degrees. No one has that kind of budget or space for that many cars, so when one car can convincingly combine many personalities from other cars, it becomes a very interesting and compelling option.
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