Not only is the 2018 BMW M5 High Performance Sedan the quickest M vehicle to date, it is also the most technologically advanced high performance sedan, making it perhaps the quintessential high performance sedan in today’s marketplace. Its 0-60 mph time is a scant 3.2 seconds and it rockets from 0-124 mph in only 11.1 seconds. The M5’s top speed is 189 mph when outfitted with the optional M Driver’s Package.
This latest iteration breaks away from traditional M5s of the past. The first BMW M5 bowed in Europe in 1984 as the fastest production car in the world. Top speed was rated at 152 mph and the basic engine design was shared with the BMW M1 supercar along with the engine block architecture of the iconic 3.0CSL. It was more powerful than Ferrari’s 328.
The M5 first came to our shores four years later in 1988. All wore a Black exterior with blacked out bumpers and window trim. The second M5 example was the first V-8 powered model produced from2000 to 2003. Next came a 500 horsepower V-10 model capable of speeds of nearly 200 mph. Let’s just say that all M-powered cars have always placed their emphasis on performance and that the “M” stands for muscle. The M5 has always been a large four-door sedan based on the regular 5-Series, and all have been rear-wheel drive with a manual gearbox. In fact, all M-powered BMWs (M3, M4, M5 and M6) have always been rear-wheel drive cars. – not to be confused with M trim or M Sport packages. All were also extremely firm road cars – even harsh according to some.
Enter the BMW M5 for 2018, which is four-wheel drive only, but with 2-wheel drive capability. There’s no manual transmission available, only an 8-speed automatic with five different settings in the car’s iDrive system that sends torque to the front axle by way of an electronically controlled clutch pack. The first setting is for more ordinary scenarios with stability control turned on. The second setting only turns off the stability control. The third position places stability control in BMW’s yaw control through M Dynamic mode, engaging the iDrive’s 4WD Sport, with the front axle coming in after more rear tore slip is experienced. The fourth mode is the aforementioned setting without stability control. The fifth and final option delivers two-wheel drive, stability control off, and full turbocharged energy.
There are no active roll bars, no variable-ratio steering gear, and no rear-wheel steering feature. Damping is adjustable from the cockpit, with three settings of tune – a soft setting and two other settings suitable primarily for a track, with progressively much stiffer ride qualities.
The heart of the beast is a 4.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve BMW M Twin-Power Turbo V8 engine with variable valve control (Double-VANOS and Valvetronic) and high-precision direct injection that pumps out a whopping 600 horses in a range from 5,700 to 6,600 rpm, while also developing 553 pound feet of torque from 1,800 to 5,700 rpm.
Motive force is delivered through an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and Launch Control to the M xDrive all-wheel drive system with 2-wheel drive capability and Active M differential. M xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, central transfer case with fully-variable mutilate clutch, fully-variable torque distribution between front and rear axle, differential with fully-variable Active M Differential, locking effect from 0 – full on.
In terms of its visual appeal, this latest BMW M5 carries over the styling of the regular Five-Series sedan with a few small notable differences. Up front, there are larger, pronounced air intake vent openings for enhanced cooling. There is also subtle M5 badging, and the 19-inch wheels are of a specific design, shod with staggered Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. 20-inchers are available.
My test 2018 BMW M5 sedan wore a Marina Bay Blue metallic exterior finish and featured an Aragon Brown full leather interior with Charcoal trim accents. The base price was set at $102,600., while the as tested sticker came to $129,795. After factoring in the following options: the leather interior; Driving Assistance Plus; Executive Package; M Carbon Ceramic brakes; 20-inch M light alloy wheels; Apple CarPlay compatibility; Bowers & Wilkins sound system; M Driver’s Package; Destination Charge; and Gas Guzzler Tax.
For those purists who can get over the fact that the 2018 BMW M5 sedan represents a departure from tradition and a leap into the future, the car is a pure joy to ”pilot”. Pilot being the key word here as the car literally flies around a racecourse – the Thermal Club track in Palm Springs, CA to be more specific. Not only does it fly, it is extremely stable – as stable as you want it to be – or not, if you prefer. There are enough variable controls and settings to dial in one’s desired level of performance, matching virtually any skill quotient.
Despite its track capability, the new BMW M5 can also deliver luxurious comfort in more normal driving scenarios. It is essentially, a BMW 5 Series with an attitude and the potential to fill the “need for speed”. Tooling about in “transportation” mode is possible, with accommodations for five.
The new M5 begs to be pushed hard in the proper setting. Drifting is possible if that’s your thing, or impressive lap times, sticking to the surface traveled with ultimate control and stability, as if on rails. Engine characteristics may be changed at the push of a button, from the basic Efficient setting to either Sport or Sport Plus, resulting in a crisper response to the accelerator input.
The cross-bank exhaust manifolds have been modified to optimize the flow of energy from the exhaust gas to the turbine wheels of the two twin-scroll turbochargers ensuring the best possible gas-exchange cycle. The Helmholtz resonator between the two silencers of the dual exhaust system reduced its weight by 11 lbs. The sound from the active flap-controlled exhaust system can be varied depending on the selected mode for the engine characteristics, while the M Sound Control button allows further acoustic customization – emitting a sweet sound indeed.
The BMW M5 sedan for 2018 doesn’t come cheaply, but if you can afford it, it’s surely worth it. Think of it as setting a new tradition in the high performance sedan category. A tradition worthy of high praise.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 BMW M5 Sedan
Base Price: $102,600.
Price as Tested: $129,795.
Engine Type and Size: 4.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve BMW M Twin-Power V8 Turbo V8 with variable valve control (Double-VANOS and Valvetronic) and high-precision direct injection
Horsepower (bhp): 600 @ 5,700-6,600 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 553 @ 1,800-5,700 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed M Steptronic automatic with Drivelogic and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and Launch Control.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / M xDrive aall-wheel drive system with 2-wheel drive capability and Active M differential. M xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, central transfer case with fully variable multiplate clutch, fully variable torque distribution between front and rear axle, differential with fully variable Active M Differential, locking effect 0 –full on.
Suspension: Front – Adaptive M with double wishbone axle in lightweight aluminum construction, M-specific kinematics and elastokinematics, Variable Damper Control (VDC)
Rear – Adaptive M with five-link axle in lightweight aluminum construction, M-specific elastokinematics, Variable Damper Control (VDC)
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs Front – M compound brakes, vented, with 6-piston fixed calipers.Rear – M compound brakes, vented, 1-piston floating calipers. Standard: DSC incl. ABS, ASC and M Dynamic Mode (MDM), can be switched off, CBC (Cornering Brake Control), DBC (Dynamic Brake Control), Dry Braking function, Start-Off Assistant, Active M Differential, DSC linked with M xDrive all-wheel drive
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 275/30 ZR 20 -front / 285/35 ZR20 – rear mounted on 7- double- machine face spoke light alloy wheels with Orbit Grey painted inners – 9.5×19 front / 10.5×19 rear.
Wheelbase: 117.4 inches
Length Overall: 195.5 inches
Width: 74.9 inches
Height: 58.0 inches- unladen
Curb Weight: 4,370 lbs.
Turning Circle: 41.3 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 20.1 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.758
0 – 60 mph: 3.2 seconds – top speed = 155 mph or 189 with the available M Driver’s Package.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.