The all-new BMW M5: driven and reviewed!
Is this the best sports sedan money can buy?Updated: Jun 02, 2018 22:19 IST
Portugal. It’s my favourite country in Europe, one I keep going back to. It’s not because it’s a slice of Goa on a faraway continent. It’s not because it has 300 days of sunshine. And it’s not because the people are really friendly and speak good English. No, it’s because Portugal is such a fantastic place to drive. The roads are picturesque, there’s not much traffic and unlike other European countries that take a dim view about speeding, the Portuguese police seem more relaxed about it. It’s for these very reasons that car manufacturers keep going there to launch new models and so I find myself back again on Portuguese soil, this time to test the all-new BMW M5.
This super sedan, which pumps out a titanic 600hp from its big V8 motor is the most powerful BMW you can buy. But with great power, comes great responsibility and it’s not only Spiderman’s uncle who felt that way, but the BMW engineers too. So to harness all that power and make sure its owners don’t pirouette out of control into the scenery, BMW engineers have given the M5 a raft of electronic nannies that don’t let the car step out of its safety net. So if it senses you’re going to spin or lose control, the car will automatically cut the power or apply the brakes. Whilst that maybe a sensible thing, for someone who loves to drive (why else would you buy an M5?) all these safety aids can dampen the driving experience.
However, the new M5 comes with some tricks up its sleeve. There’s a new setting you can activate with the press of a button that allows you to slide the car and go sideways quite easily but without the fear of spinning out of control. I try out this feature within the controlled confines of the Estoril circuit, a Formula 1 that once hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix. It’s thrilling and great fun to flick tail out with the jab of the throttle pedal, and the finely-honed balance of the car instils huge confidence even in an average driver. The circuit is also the place to test the ballistic performance of the new M5, which accelerates so hard and fast that it can reduce thoroughbred Porsches and Maseratis to mere specks in the mirror.
The M5 rocketed down the Estoril’s long start-finish straight to hit north of 240kph with ease. After a few laps at Estoril, the Portuguese countryside beckoned. Heading west, I hit the coast to be greeted by the breathtakingly azure Atlantic Ocean, which completely overshadowed the bright blue colour of my M5. The roads in this region close to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost tip of Europe, are pretty deserted and the perfect playground for the M5. On the narrow, twisty ribbon of tarmac that hugs the coast, I realise how wide the M5 is and have to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.
This is the first four-wheel-drive M5 to be made and it’s on these roads that I appreciate the extra layer of stability it brings. The handling is predictable and goads me to go faster to a point where I’m doing silly speeds. The confidence and lack of effort with which you can enjoy all that sports car-slaying power and yet use it as an everyday car gives the M5 a unique appeal. The only grouse I have is that the exhaust note sounds underwhelming and doesn’t crackle and roar like you would expect from something so sporty. It’s the strong and silent type!
I’ve not driven the Mercedes E63 AMG, the M5’s rival, just yet. But for now I can safely say that this fully charged up BMW is easily the best super sports sedan you can get for your money.
Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India
From HT Brunch, June 3, 2018
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