The BMW M5 has one of the richest histories of any performance car. Now in its sixth-generation, BMW has changed its formula around by adding all-wheel-drive to its M5 – it had always been rear-wheel-drive before. The engine has also received some of the latest technology available, and a few other features making it sharper than ever.
While the new car may be all-wheel-drive, BMW has not lost sight of the M5’s rich past, thus meaning that it can be locked into rear-wheel-drive mode only, much to the amusement of purists.
The new model is also much lighter than before, thanks to the use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic that helps to keep the weight low.
The latest M5 makes use of the same 4.4-litre V8 engine that was fitted to the old version, although it has been tuned. As we’ve already mentioned, power is sent to all four wheels, via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
It produces an impressive 592bhp and 750Nm allowing it to sprint from 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds and onto an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.
Ride and handling
M5s of the past have always been renowned for their twitchiness, but thanks to all-wheel-drive on this latest version, it offers much more traction and improves the overall driving experience. Even with nearly 600bhp under the bonnet, you always feel in control – and this is mainly thanks to the all-wheel-drive system.
It’s still great fun to drive, though, with its rear-wheel-drive bias still allowing flexibility meaning you can enter into mini-drifts - but with the added confidence that they are always controllable.
But then you have the engine – a sheer work of art that should be shown to anyone that bangs on about how amazing naturally-aspirated engines are. It has next-to-no lag, just constant acceleration throughout the rev range. There’s a lovely mechanical bellow from the exhaust, too.
The steering also has a fantastic feel to it, although it is best kept in Sport mode. Comfort mode feels too light, while sport plus makes it feel unnecessarily heavy. Middle of the road is definitely the best bet in this case.
Interior and equipment
The interior of the M5 isn’t that dissimilar from the cabin of the standard 5 Series but that is no bad thing. You get an easy to navigate infotainment system, as well as a solidly-built interior that is made from excellent materials.
But BMW has added some fantastic ‘M’ touches to it, too, with carbon-fibre finishers on the dashboard. The biggest differences, though, are the driving mode selectors, which are two red ‘M’ buttons at either side of the steering wheel that controls the suspension, steering and engine responsiveness into one of three modes.
Yet it remains hugely practical with plenty of upfront space and excellent rear legroom. The cabin feels special, and is exactly what you would be hoping for when spending £90,000 on a performance saloon.
Standard equipment is impressive and includes 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights and dynamic LED brake lights. On the inside, you get a 10.25-inch colour display, front heated seats and much more.
The M5 is not a cheap car, with the range starting at £89,640. However, it is one of the best performance saloons on the market, and is competitively priced against the Mercedes-AMG E63S and Porsche Panamera. It also comes very well equipped.
However, the two things you need to aware of are the running costs and the price of options. Unsurprisingly for a 4.4-litre V8 engine, it is thirsty - only managing 26.9mpg on the combined cycle and emitting 241g/km of CO2.
As with most BMWs options are expensive, which means that even just ticking a few select options such as ceramic brakes, a sports exhaust and a carbon fibre engine cover could easily knock the price into six digits.
The M5 is undoubtedly one of the finest performance saloons on the market. It is unbelievably quick, fantastic to drive and the decision to add all-wheel-drive has positively transformed the M5’s character. While it might be expensive to buy and run, the fact that it retains the practical element of the standard 5 Series makes it one of the best all-rounders on sale today.