At this gray stage of life, when Merle Haggard sounds better than Mumford and Sons, I generally try to avoid rearranging my internal organs.
It makes my milk toast and Geritol taste funny.
Big bad BMW, though, apparently doesn’t care.
A few weeks back, an electric-blue 2018 BMW M5 seized my driveway, looking like some crisply cut European sophisticate with the soul of a heat-seeking missile.
With 600-turbocharged horsepower, carbon-fiber roof and all-wheel-drive, the M5 dances on the outer-outer limits where Porsches, Ferraris and Lambos play.
My stomach may still be wrapped around my liver, but, hey, it hurts so good.
BMW seems intent on recapturing its “Ultimate Driving Machine” days – back before the German Autobahn-rods started getting a bit soft and fat – and I have the bruises to prove it.
Think of the M5 as a sort of gentleman’s Hellcat – with even more snarl and sharper claws.
As you can see, the big sleek sedan looks a lot like the last-generation M5 – only crisper, with its body pulled more tightly over wide 20-inch wheels.
A blunt front-end, for example, features familiar blacked-out kidney-shaped grilles and slightly scowling horizontal headlamps that wrapped gently around the fenders.
Meanwhile, a long, lightly carved hood topped traditional-looking sides sporting a subtle muscular curve and a deep character line above the door-handles.
The body clung to 20-inch spoked wheels wrapped with sticky 275/35 tires up front and 285/35s in back.
Behind them, massive cross-drilled disc brakes with gold calipers announced pretty loudly that this was no conventional luxury cruiser.
Beneath the M5’s regal hood lies the real gem — a turbocharged 4-liter V-8 with the aforementioned 600-horsepower and 553 neck-popping lb.-ft. of torque at a low 1,800 rpm.
The mechanical hurricane it generates roars through an 8-speed automatic, on its way to all four wheels.
Acceleration, as you might expect, is ferociously instantaneous and mostly free of wheel spin, compressing your chest enough to qualify as CPR.
Stand hard on the accelerator from a stop and 2.8 seconds later, the M5 will blast past 60 mph, according to Car and Driver, on its way to a major blazing ticket.
Just for the record, that is about 1 full second faster to 60 than a storied Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye, without the drama.
Maybe more important to the well-heeled buyers who will hand over $130,000 for an M5, the two-ton sedan is highly civilized at low and moderate speeds, providing a smooth, silent rush to more casual speeds.
Don’t plan on passing many gas stations, though. Like most high-performance V-8 sedans, the M5 only ekes out about 15 miles per gallon in town.
Initially, I got a bit irritated with the automatic transmission, which seemed too quick to upshift, sometimes clicking all the way up to seventh gear by 30 mph.
If you put it in one of the sport modes, though – stiffening up an already-firm ride as well – the transmission works better, holding the M5 in gears longer.
Even better, sport mode more tightly focuses the sedan’s exceptionally balanced handling, allowing it to turn flatly into corners with the aggression and precision of a much-smaller car.
Although M5’s steering seemed a bit thick at slow speeds, it was quick, becoming more lively at speed with decent road-feel.
Despite its prodigious performance, the car still seeks to cosset us with an aromatic saddle-leather interior filled with luxury touches and gadgets such as “Gesture Control” that I ignored.
However, I never found the polished aluminum beer-keg full of premium German beer that I kind of halfway expected.
Oh, well. I got by just fine with the big sedan’s gently sloping, pliable black dashboard that wrapped around digital gauges styled to look like video-game versions of the real thing.
A bright saddle material covered the lower dash, which featured a horizontal 10.2-inch display screen and a slender panel beneath it for climate and audio controls.
Find out the bright saddle leather – which looked almost orange in sunlight – wrapped around the edges of the console, while the door panels offered dark carbon-fiber trim and saddle centers.
The saddle-leather seats, of course, were pretty special, too, with big, gripping bolsters and perforated centers, while the back seats provided Uber-like leg- and head-room.
As is typical with expensive German sedans, my M5 came loaded with $25,000 in options, including the Executive Package ($4,000); carbon-ceramic brakes ($8,500); Apple CarPlay compatibility ($300); a Bowers & Wilkins audio system ($3,400); 20-inch wheels ($1,300); and the M Drivers Package ($2,500).
You can keep all of it. Give me an M5 with a couple of racing shell-bucket seats and I would be happy.
Not only is the M5 one of the fastest sedans in the world, it also is one of the best – so good, in fact, it might even rate a tattoo.
Photo Credit: BMW
- What I liked most: Everything – from the calmly aggressive styling to the vertebra-loosening performance.
- What I would change: Give me real gauges in my ultra-high-performance German sedan, not digital facsimiles.
- MSRP: Base price, $102,600; as equipped, $129,795.
- Fuel economy: Rated at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 21 on the highway and 17 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Official color: Marina Bay Blue Metallic.
- Odometer reading when tested: 4,839 miles.
- Weight: 4,288 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 195.5 inches long/74.9 inches wide/58 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 20.1 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- Spare tire: None – air pump.
- 2018 BMW M5 in a few words: An extremely powerful statement that the Ultimate Driving Machine might be back.
- Warranty: Four year, 50,000-mile coverage.
- Final assembly location: Dingolfing, Germany.
- Manufacturer’s website:
- E-mail me at [email protected]
- Up next: 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT