The Audi RS6 was desirable because of its all-weather traction and almost irrational sensation of very high speed. The Mercedes E55 AMG has turbine-like grunt and soulless controls. The new M5, in contrast, is intuitive and involves the driver every step of the way. It is as stable as its rivals in a straight line, but its steering is lively and soulful. It is as fast through corners, but its handling is sublime and unambiguous. It is as strong on the brake and as energetic on the throttle, but it never forgets to generate feel and feedback. We said the same about the old M5, but this one has more raw speed and power and an even better-balanced chassis. The ride is more composed, with less body roll and understeer. It is more fluent, and there is a greater immediacy between input and reaction.
The M5 could spell bad news for your driving license, but it's guaranteed to brighten up the dullest day. Just about the only car that can rival it in terms of speed from A to B, smiles per miles, and everyday usability is the latest 911 Carrera S. The Porsche costs roughly the same money, and it may rank even higher in street cred, but the BMW offers five seats, a family-size trunk, and a less challenging attitude when pushed. This car is a sensible antidepressant, and it doesn't even require a prescription-just a healthy bank balance.