BMW’s revitalized M5 arrived too late to be part of our 2018 festivities, but it brought its fresh arsenal of hardware to the 2019 All-Stars mashup, most notably a walloping 600-hp V-8 and all-wheel drive to wrangle all those ponies. “What a stonking motor!” gushed our own pro racer, Andy Pilgrim, who also praised its well-damped suspension despite its hefty footprint. The enthusiasm extended to the M5’s high-speed road trip capabilities, inspiring editor-at-large Arthur St. Antoine to exclaim, “Damn, this thing is good!” after piloting the five-passenger Bavarian from Los Angeles through the California desert, saying, “It made speed like Ghirardelli makes chocolate,” and that its “almost 4,300 pounds felt 1,000 pounds lighter on the track.” Executive editor Mac Morrison said, “This is the first new M5 I’ve enjoyed this much since the E39 generation—and that was more than 15 years ago. Yikes.”
The M5’s versatility and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system inspired a spark of hope from those who say BMWs of late have battled an identity crisis. “BMW’s M Series had this thread, lost it, but is getting it back quickly. And thankfully,” contributor Steven Cole Smith said. The M5’s talents were strong enough to sway contributor Jethro Bovingdon away from Mercedes-AMG’s charismatic contender. “I think the E63 S stole the hearts and minds of most,” he said, “but I prefer the M5. It doesn’t give the same instant gratification, but I think its depths of talent run deeper. The all-wheel-drive system is more natural and consistent—the Merc punches power to the rear then snatches it back to the front once you’ve had a little spike of oversteer, whereas the M5 always feels like a rear-driver blessed with freakishly good traction.” High praise coming from Automobile’s resident drift whisperer.
Not all were enthralled with the sedan’s interface, however, with a common refrain criticizing the plethora of switchgear that belies BMW’s original, iDrive-focused vision of sparsity. “Too many damn buttons, which describes the state of the sport sedan in general today,” echoed Detroit editor Todd Lassa. “Just starting the car and then actually driving off was a bit intimidating.” Still, others were disillusioned by the finer points of the BMW’s driving dynamics despite its near supercarlike performance envelope. “Authoritative, fast, composed, heavy, and without much soul,” contributor Ronald Ahrens lamented. “I admire the car, and its capability is impressive, but it seemed indifferent to the driver.”
While features editor Rory Jurnecka marveled at the beast being a “big, heavy rocket ship,” he also called it “too big and vague to be very engaging,” an unfortunate portrayal for a sport-focused six-figure sedan. With others referring to the steering as “unintuitive” and the overall experience as “clinical and overly technoid,” the M5 unfortunately missed its self-proclaimed target as the ultimate driving machine—and status as an Automobile All-Star.
2018 BMW M5 Specifications
|PRICE||$102,600/$129,795 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||4.4L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8; 600 hp @ 5,700–6,600 rpm, 553 lb-ft @ 1,800–5,700 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||15/21 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||195.5 x 74.9 x 58.0 in|
|0–60 MPH||3.0 sec|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph (189 mph w/ M Driver’s package)|