The best M5 since the E39, a true everyday super saloon with character and ability. The F90 M5 is a much purer sports sedan closer to M’s founding beliefs than the last 2 generation. In the case of this M5, BMW's M division is once again focusing on driver engagement. If you can only own one all-purpose car, this will be a fantastic choice.
“Mission Impossible 6 - Fall Out” is the current summer blockbuster playing at the theatre right now. In the opening sequence, the getaway car was a menacing-looking all black BMW F90 M5. It has a remote control gadgety, similar to the 7 Series BMW which appeared exactly 20 years ago in “James Bond - Tomorrow Never Dies”. Today, I was handed over the key to an identical looking, brand new BMW M5, the remote control feature is unfortunately just a thing of fiction, but I am going to tell you everything else about the car.
First off, the new M5 (codename F90), kept the M5 tradition of being a “Q-car” or “Sleeper”, so for regular pedestrians, it looks like a garden variety 5 Series with nicer wheels and 4 exhaust tips, especially for this “De-badged” car.
This M5 actually looks a lot like the previous generation model (F10). Once you start looking closely, you start to notice the new car’s front end consists of many functioning holes to feed air into the radiators and oil coolers lurking behind. There are small side skirts, four exhausts and a signature M5 bootlid lip. The roof is bare carbon-reinforced plastic, I almost didn’t notice it because the car is black. The aluminum front wings and bonnet have crisp feature lines. All quite subtle.
The major difference is under the skin.
To start, although It has got the same 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8, it now packs 600 Horsepower, up 40hp from F10. Torque has risen even more, from 501 to 553lb/ft. This engine fits the car’s character very well.
Secondly, the new car has four-wheel drive, a good idea because of all that extra power. Luckily, it is not a permanent four-wheel drive system, if you wish, you can actually make it just rear-drive, and then it becomes a very good drift car.
The 4WD itself is a very rear-biased system, so the M5 generally feels nothing but rear-wheel drive. Push it, and you’ll get a touch of understeer, quickly and effectively the system’s front axle pulls the car straight, in a very natural way. Be even more aggressive with the throttle and play with some of the modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus), and the car will rotate a couple of degrees at the rear before going very neutral.
Third, the gearbox is an eight-speed automatic, essentially a torque converter auto with sequential paddle shift, rather than the previous model’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). I don’t miss the DCT, in fact, I don’t like the DCT from the previous F10 M5. Yes, it is lightyears better than the SMG from the E60 but still not very smooth. This auto box has the instantaneous response of a DCT, and it is now silky smooth. The transmission is technically flawless, it shifts so rapidly as to mask any momentary torque reduction and picks the right ratio at the right time. It perfectly suits an M5 as a daily driven car.
This car has the optional M Sport exhaust system, it sounds pretty good, a kind of bassy woofle at slower speeds with a decent rawness in the upper ranges. There’s a “quiet button” for the exhaust, perfect for crossing Police roadblock. When the car in Sport Plus mode, this M5 would spit and crackle which sounds badass but admittedly, it is a bit synthetic because noise is piped in through the stereo. It doesn't have the natural bass bellow of the E39 V8 or bossy roar of the E60 V10 which I really love.
Zero to 62mph is now 3.4 sec, a whole second quicker than the previous M5. The turbos spool quickly, not a slight hints of turbo lag is detected. Body control is fantastic, with that slight weight shift that tells you what the car is doing, traction is always available and power on tap no matter the gear. The steering feedback is good and it connects you to the road. As a result the car feels a lot smaller than it is on narrow road and it goes where you point it to. The ride is really good, it’s agile but comfortable and the car wants to turn. Traction is excellent, it feels like the car is doing all the things you want it to. It’s easy, and fun, and makes you feel good. I only tried all-wheel drive with traction control on, the car was very grippy and secure. I was told, in all-wheel drive, traction off mode, it would kick the tail out as readily as a rear-drive car at the corner exit. So if you like a bit of power-on tail movement on the road, turn off traction but stick with AWD. And if you want to drift on a track, go traction off/ rear wheel drive.
As a bonus, you can change the steering weight, ride control, engine response and gearbox response on the fly. BMW gives you a pair of red ‘M1’ and ‘M2’ buttons on the top of the steering wheel that remembers your favorite pair of setups. Programme them, and you get your choice of xDrive, DSC, engine, transmission, damper and steering characteristics, as well as the appearance of M view in the head-up display. Just one touch, you can put the car back into Comfort mode and it makes a great case as an only car.
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