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Text | Desmond Chan
Photos | Low Fai Ming

4 OCTOBER 2021
Where the 5 Series excels in luxurious comfort and quality, the M5 bleeds performance and excitement.

The BMW 5 Series is certainly one of the go-to choices when it comes to the luxury sedan segment, thanks to its ample practicality, elevated luxury and keen driveability.

The M5 Competition, at almost twice the price and more than three times the power, is clearly a different proposition altogether. With ballistic pace and intense dynamic capability, the M5 is capable of delivering a level of performance that sets the heart racing. At the same time, because it shares a visual similarity to a standard 5 Series, there's also an unassuming nature to the car - a sleeper car, in some eyes.

And yet, considering these cars share the same fundamental underpinnings (the 5 Series body type), there's perhaps more overlap in the way they are used than you'd expect. Our two drivers find out just how distinct the driving experiences and expectations with the two cars are.
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Smooth Sailing vs High Tailing

For Jeremy, the 5 Series is all about comfort and smooth driving. And when you have kids and family to think about, you really just want a refined and serene driving experience. It's bad enough to have to deal with the noise from the kids. The car's 2.0-litre powertrain delivers ample juice, but importantly the mild-hybrid system means that engine start-stop is seamless, which makes for an even more refined and comfortable driving experience.

Desmond understands that there are few opportunities to fully deploy all of the M5's power. However, the M5 demonstrates a significant improvement in refinement levels compared to its predecessor, especially with the new eight-speed auto transmission and adaptive suspension. As a result, driving it daily is surprisingly easy. And of course, with a V8 under the bonnet, the M5 makes for impeccably quick journeys to get your places faster, even without having to drive like a maniac.
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Long alrighty vs Lord almighty

For Jeremy, it is the long-legged nature of the 5 Series that makes long drives a delightful experience. Whether it's the 40 minute commute to the in-laws' place or the four hour commute to KL, the 5 Series will ensure that both driver and passengers get there as fresh as when they left.

For Desmond, the M5 is a ballistic dynamic weapon for when the opportunity calls. With 625bhp and 750Nm of torque, all-wheel drive, and complex chassis systems, the M5 ensures a razor-sharp driving experience that is both exciting and involving. It's a car that's immediately ready for the racetrack, and always raring to give you a heart-pumping experience.
Practical vs practicality

A family car must first and foremost be practical. The 5 Series boasts a large 530-litre boot that will regularly be filled with things, whether it's the kid's belongings or just personal items. Isofix points also allow the securing of child seats, which is important to Jeremy when taking the family out for a nice dinner on weekends.

Even though performance is front and centre, the M5 doesn't skimp on practicality. Boot space is unchanged from the 5 Series, which means that Desmond can still use this car for grocery runs, or even to take his wheelchair bound grandmother out. The generous space in the rear of the cabin also means outings with friends is easy to organise. With the M5, it's really a sports car, minus the stereotypical sports car inconveniences.
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Made it vs crave it

Beyond just being a highly luxurious, practical, comfortable and thoroughly high-tech family car, owning a 5 Series is also about the feel-good factor. For Jeremy, driving it imparts a sense of accomplishment. Is it a status symbol? Sure, it is. But more importantly, it is an indication of personal and professional success. It's a big step upwards, and forwards.

The M5 is a lot of car. Some may argue too much car. But when you desire something that offers both intoxicating performance and surefooted sensibility like Desmond does, the M5's ability to do both in abundance is a key part of its appeal. And of course, it also occupies a rarefied place, not just among the M model lineup, but among performance cars in general. That is its own allure.
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With the 5 Series and the M5, though the cars may be related and share common underpinnings, they cater to fundamentally different expectations for different types of drivers. Where the 5 Series is focused on delivering a sense of everyday quality, comfort and serenity, the M5 is tuned for excitement, engagement and enjoyment.