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Rating 9 9

New BMW M5 review, test drive

18th Jul 2012 7:37 pm

We drive a monster from the stables of BMW, the M5 and it also happens to be the fastest four-door saloon we have ever tested.


  • Make : BMW
  • Model : M5

As expected of a 552bhp motor, fuel efficiency isn’t too great. With wide tyres, a huge engine and a not-so-flattering kerb weight, this car feels like it can empty gas stations as you drive by them. For the record, we got 4.5kpl in the city and 7.1kpl on the highway. So, despite the 80-litre fuel tank, you’ll still be visiting fuel pumps quite often.

The new M5 is an immense engineering achievement. It’s got everything that you would expect of a super-saloon – towering performance, engaging handling and a properly comfortable cabin. Even more incredible is this 552bhp saloon’s usability – it’s armed with a comfortable chassis setup and well-mannered gearbox. There are a few shortfalls though. The cabin should look and feel a little bit more special and the engine, though more efficient than before, still has quite an appetite for the expensive stuff. Priced at Rs 98.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) it isn’t cheap, but then again, its direct rivals cost even more. Seriously, for this price, there’s little that can match the M5’s wide range of abilities. 

Known as the F10M, this is the first M-car to get its own internal designation. This new M5 comes from a long line of illustrious predecessors starting from the E28 M5 of 1985. But the latest M5 is different – it’s the first one to feature fewer cylinders than the one it replaces. BMW also says that about 80 percent of the components on this car are either completely new or heavily modified. The M5 uses hydraulic power steering and a strong and light suspension. Like the standard car’s chassis, it’s made up of double wishbones up front and multi-links at the rear. Brakes come in the form of massive 400mm discs and six-piston calipers up front and 396mm discs at the rear, with sticky Michelin Super Sport tyres on optional 20-inch rims to control it all. Sheer mass is the only minor disappointment on the spec sheet – the M5 weighs a rather portly 1870kg. It’s important to know that the M5 doesn’t have a spare tyre, and neither does it have run-flats like other BMWs. So you only have a puncture-repair kit to rely on – not good.

So, how will the neighbours know you’ve bought an M5? Well, they’ll have to look for the quad exhaust pipes sticking out of the back, the un-missable 20-inch rims and the discreet M5 badge on the boot lid. Other hints include the tiny spoiler on the boot, the aggressive chin, the extended side sills and the chrome vents on the front wings. Some might be disappointed with the lack of visual flair, but M cars have always been discreet and this characteristic has always been part of the appeal of the M5.

Also watch: We drive the new BMW M5 on the Buddh circuit

The M5’s cabin is quite understated and don’t distance themselves enough from regular 5’s, which might be a disappointment for some. The centre console is almost identical, and it’s only the extra buttons around the stubby gearlever that tell you you’re in an M5. Other notable changes from a standard 5-series include a speedometer that reads to 330kph and an M-car-specific gear knob. So, while the cabin may not be bespoke, it’s still a very impressive place. Material quality, genuine everyday usability and the overall richness convince you that you’re driving something very expensive and well-built.

Getting comfortable behind the wheel is no problem – the driving position is excellent and the seat is fully powered. This five-seat express offers great front-seat space and even the rear occupants have enough legroom for one six-footer to sit behind another. The other bit that reinforces the M5’s everyday usability is its 520-litre boot. It’s just that, with the exhaust cans nestling right under the boot floor, the heat inside the boot can get immense.   

Under the bonnet lies a 4.4-litre, all-aluminium 90-degree V8 making 552bhp, 10 percent more power than the outgoing V10. And unlike the V10, which needed to be really wrung out to give its best, this motor makes a whopping 69.3kgm of torque from just 1500rpm, so performance is more real-world accessible.

Performance from the 552bhp direct-petrol-injection motor is just astonishing. Tap the throttle and the M5 vaults off the blocks; thrust is immediate and very strong. The power delivered is explosive, and even short bursts of acceleration are addictive. Configure the M-mode to disengage the DSC and set the gearbox, dampers and engine to ‘hair-raising’, and things get even more insane. Performance is now in proper supercar territory, and the car changes the way it responds to throttle inputs. 

The seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox is lightning-quick with its shifts and, as ever, you can use it in manual mode, gears shifting up only when you pull the right paddle. Flat-out performance is uncannily rapid, with 100kph taking 4.64 seconds, 150kph 8.73 seconds and 200kph just over 15 seconds! In-gear acceleration is very strong too, despite having tall gearing. This car won’t need a long stretch of road to hit its limited top speed of 250kph.

Tone it all down and the M5 is equally impressive. On the congested streets of Delhi it’s quickly apparent that, with the M5 in comfort setting, this car is as civilised as a regular 5-series. Downsides come in the form of the exhaust note, which is a bit too muted inside the cabin. Still, it sounds quite nice – it growls at idle, grunts like a gorilla at part-throttle and has a refined V8 howl as it closes in on the 7200rpm redline.

Making a near-two-tonne car sprint to 100kph in under 5 sec is quite a feat. Making all that power easily manageable is even more impressive. But the most astonishing aspect of the M5 is how at times it rides even better than a regular 5-series. The M5’s suspension is remarkable in its ability to absorb bumps and maintain composure over broken tarmac, and this is true even in Sport mode. It only thuds when there are quick, sharp hits taken at speed, such as with big potholes or drain covers.

But don’t get the wrong idea – the M5 is no softie. The steering is smooth, slick, linear and capable of filtering out the worst of the feedback, while allowing the good bits of feel to filter through. That and the ride make the M5 a supremely unflustered car in which to travel cross-country, and one that allows you to tackle crests, corners and bumps with terrific confidence.

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