BMW M5: A massive dose of power and personality
Enthusiasts need not fret. Their concern that the switch to four-wheel drive could corrupt the new M5’s driving experience is dispelled instantly. The M5’s 4.4-litre V8 now gets bigger turbos and higher injection pressure, among other tweaks, boosting power to a supercar-humbling 600hp.
The new M5’s engine is an evolution over its predecessor and comes with a substantial 8.5% increase in power and 10.3% more torque to take performance to a different level. BMW claims a 0-100 kmph time of a staggering 3.4 seconds, a good 1 second faster than the older car. Who would have imagined a four-door sedan being capable of these figures? There’s very little lag from the pair of turbos, and you get a brutal, linear shove when you press the throttle.
Another big change in the new M5 is the transmission. BMW has ditched the previous car’s dual-clutch unit and gone in for a torque converter—ZF’s eight-speed Steptronic, which has the reputation of being smooth, quick and efficient. The older dual-clutch units can be a bit rough at lower speeds.
The only disappointment is the engine sound which, though loud, is a bit underwhelming. It lacks the soulful tone of the Merc AMG V8s and doesn’t burble like a Jaguar either.
You appreciate the layer of security the four-wheel drive brings, and the predictable handling goads you to push on a road that’s not much wider than the 1,903mm width of the sedan. BMW says it has reduced weight, but it has gone down only by 15kg.
In 4WD Sport mode, the car feels wonderfully neutral. There’s a hint of under-steer which disappears in the more aggressive Sport+ and M Dynamic modes. This masterful rear-wheel-drive adjustability is thanks to some clever software, which seamlessly controls all the parameters of the M xDrive, or four-wheel-drive system. The grip from the Pirelli P Zeros instils huge confidence.
The M5 rides on 20-inch alloys and is very compliant on broken roads— that will be a big plus in India. There’s no reason why the M5 can’t do the job of a BMW 530i sedan. Sure, there are the muscular wheel arches, side skirts, massive air intakes in the front, a rear diffuser and quad exhausts, but these exterior bits are packaged quite subtly.
The interiors too are similar to a regular 5-series, with the dashboard largely being carried over. You do get a sportier steering wheel and seats, and carbon-fibre inserts, but not at the expense of features and comfort. There is a 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system and a 360-degree camera. The radar-based safety kit may not make it to India because of restrictions on radar frequencies.
What you certainly can’t have is a sunroof. For BMW engineers, a sunroof in the M5 is anathema as it would put extra weight in the worst possible place—the roof.
The 2018 M5 will wear a price tag upwards of Rs1.5 crore (ex-showroom). And you will get manic performance that doesn’t come at the expense of everyday usability.