Among the vehicles in the BMW line there are many vehicles that have some M badges thrown around. We recently tested the very calm, cool, and collected BMW X2 XDrive 28i M Sport X (that's its real name) and loved it. The X2 as we call it, drives like a normal sporty luxury vehicle. The M is not really an indication of a track-ready car that will mix it up and rub fenders. In the case of the M5, the much simpler name should be a warning. The M5 is a 4-door racecar. In its marketing, BMW says of the M5, "Yes, it's street legal." They are not joking. It is a legitimate question.
What'll It Cost You?
The M5 starts at around $104,000. Nobody buys one for that price. The one we tested had quite a few of the bits most owners are going to want to add, such as Apple CarPlay compatibility and what appears to be an options rear-view camera (part of a $4,000 package). All the cool M5 owners are opting in for the $8,500 ceramic brake upgrade and the $3,400 Bowers and Wilkins audio system. After all the options were added up, our BMW M5 tester had a sticker price one fancy dinner shy of $130,000.00.
Why You Should Not Lend Your M5 To Anyone
Normally we would tell you a bit about the IIHS safety ratings, whether the car has standard auto-braking and all that jazz. Forget that stuff for a moment. This car has 600 hp, and can run from 0-60 MPH in three chimpanzees. It is one of the fastest and most capable sedans on earth. With this particular car, safety is all about car control. Can you handle it? With some time and practice, you are most likely going to be able to. But your brother in law who once leased a 1996 318ti and who is known in the family as "a BMW guy" is going to wrap this car around a utility pole if you let him drive it. So don't let him.
Then there is the shifter thingy. We'd call it a drive selector, but is it? When the veteran delivery driver came with our M5 tester he had been stranded for 15 minutes by the time we found him. The lights would not go off. It turns out he had not put the M5 into Park. We jointly figured that out after more troubleshooting. Yes, he had been reading the paper manual for a quarter hour. We just stumbled upon the Park button and that resolved the lights and thankfully, put the car in Park as well. We have tested many BMWs and some Torque News writers are fortunate enough to have them in our family fleets. None of the ones we have ever seen had a gear selector anything like this new one. So, don't lend it to your spouse or they will get to Target and call you saying "How do I put it in Park again?"
Last, the wheels. The 20" alloys are a work of art which overlay a braking system that is a work of art. They are two-tone and are a $1,300 adder to the cost of the car. Heaven forbid that you let one of your kids drive the car it comes back with curb rash on a rim. How would you get over it?
There are three settings for the ride, engine, and steering. Each can be set to Comfort (or Efficient in the case of the engine) or Sport or Sport Plus. In Efficient, the engine is super-powerful. It can pull you around as fast as most sports cars can in a tall gear under 2,000 RPMs all day long. If you use a paddle shifter or your right foot to call up a lower, more torquey gear the power is so incredible, you run out street almost immediately. We've driven the Dodge Charger Hellcat. The M5 is just as quick off the line. In Efficient mode. Toggle Sport Plus and the M5 accelerates like a cannonball. Boom, and you are all of a sudden steering and braking for your life as the world rushes past. We've seen private owners use their own BMW M5s on racetracks on multiple occasions. The M5 is not a poser.
Over any small road imperfection, the M5 is stiff in Comfort mode. In Sport it is jarring. Our roads are being paved here in town and they have scrapped the top 2 inches of pavement preparing for a new overlay. That leaves a 2-inch hump where the old pavement starts. We had to literally stop the car and nudge it over the ridge. Even then it is "Wham Whoomp." Let your neighbor try your M5 "just around the block" and you may have a bubble or four on your 20" Pirelli P Zero Ultra-High Performance, Super-Low Profile tires. Those tires are worth more each than your friendship with that neighbor. So you will have to say "no" to a person you will live next door to and who invites you over to use their pool on hot days.
The list of things that makes this car special are almost too numerous to describe in detail, so we will just list some of the best to make this story fit your coffee break: Lighted M placards on the front seatbacks. Little added M1 and M2 paddle shifterettes that let you store two M vehicle configurations. Carbon fiber roof. Microfiber suede interior covering almost everything that's not leather. The best audio system you have ever heard (Bowers and Wilkins). The 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, which allows you to simply answer "yes" to the question "Is it turbocharged or does it have the V8?"
The BMW M5 is what the commercials are talking about when they say BMW is "the Ultimate Driving Machine." Aside from the i8, the M5 impressed us more than any other BMW has. It has its own personality and feels a lot like a more grown up, more roomy version of the M3. We have nothing to say but positive things about the M5, but if you are shopping for one, and we hope you are, start planning now for some touchy situations when folks you know and love ask you if they can give it a quick spin.