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Despite having all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, the brutally quick and impressively nimble all new BMW M5 may just be the best one yet.

25 Jun 2018

The BMW M5, arguably Germany's most iconic (and my personal favourite) super sedan, which spans six model generations and almost 35 years, has got several M purists up in arms of late.

That's because the latest iteration, codenamed F90, is the first M5 to ditch BMW's notorious tarmac-smoking, tyre-shredding rear-wheel drivetrain for all-wheel drive.

The move follows the footsteps of Mercedes-AMG, which has done the same with its Bavarian-rivalling 603bhp E 63 S. But it's a move that makes sense as the continual super sedan war blitzkriegs towards the 600bhp mark. In the end, not even the best engineers in the world can defy the laws of physics.

Although based on the G30 5 Series, the new M5 is codenamed F90 as it runs a different chassis

Does that mean the M5 is no longer fun?

Nein, but we don't blame you for thinking so. After all, when the previous M5 first debuted, we similarly protested the downsizing from a naturally aspirated V10 to twin-turbo V8.

And while that M5 had to make do with 560bhp and 680Nm of torque, this new one boasts 591bhp and 750Nm. It also has one extra gear, having employed an eight-speed automatic that's certainly smoother and doesn't punch you in the back the same way as the previous car's seven-speed dual-clutch.

This, its new all-wheel drive layout and the weight loss it's gone through all mean that the M5 is now quicker, smashing the century sprint in 3.4 seconds, which puts it nearly on par in a straight line with the Ferrari 488 GTB.

The M5's hearty twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 makes a thumping 591bhp and 750Nm of torque

In fact, contrary to popular belief, the combination of the new torque-converter automatic transmission and all-wheel drive make the M5 more eager than it ever was. A perfect launch is executed as easily as holding down the brakes and the accelerator while stationary.

Hold the revs and the rear tyres will start breaking free. Release the brakes and the front wheels come alive, followed by the near two-tonne monster surging towards the horizon.

If there's any disappointment to the M5's showing, it's the relatively muted sound of its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, especially with the artificial engine noises blown through the car's speakers.

The new eight-speed auto is better suited for the high-torque V8 and performs just as well as a dual-clutch

So it's like a bat out of hell but how does the car handle?

While it's unfair for us to pass full judgement, considering we never got to take it around a race track, the M5 does display a remarkable level of agility, stability and unprecedented dynamism, which most often belies its size and weight that few cars of its stature will ever be capable of.

As with all of the M division's produce, the M5's steering is nicely judged (although unnecessarily heavy in Sport+) and its chassis is rock solid. And like the Mercedes-AMG E 63, it can also be driven purely as a rear-wheel drive, as shown in the video above.

However, when push comes to shove, it doesn't quite proffer the gilt-edged, unequivocal traction and assurance of, for example, an Audi RS6 Avant.

But on day-to-day drives, whether it's all-out, all-weather pace or a more sedentary lick you're after, the M5 is thoroughly capable of doing it all and doing it well.

The little red M1 and M2 buttons allow drivers to configure two individual setups for the M5

There are more ways you can configure the car's power and drivetrains than imaginable - from the steering, damping, engine, transmission, all-wheel drive and stability control - turning the M5 from business cruiser by day to road bully by night.

With the active dampers in their softest Comfort setting, ride quality feels almost as reasonably pliant as in any other 5 Series variant, even on the lumpiest bits of road we travelled.

How's cabin luxury, then, considering it is a half-a-million-dollar car

The cabin is trimmed in the highest-grade Merino leather available from BMW, and the racing-inspired bucket seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive we've tested.

Seat design, materials and construction are about as good as they get in a performance sedan

And while a large part of the cabin is still 5 Series-familiar, there are a number of dead giveaways that this isn't your run-of-the-mill business sedan.

For example, its digital instrument cluster has a sportier M-specific design, the seat belts bear the signature M colours, the push-start button is racy red and the gearknob looks like something out of a jet fighter.

It's a more impressive place to be in than the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, and just as welcoming as any RS-badged Audi.

The carbon fibre-reinforced plastic roof is an M5 first, which means no more sunroof option

So is this the best M5 ever?

Performance-wise, without a doubt. Technologically so, too. In spite of purists frowning upon the idea of BMW jumping on the all-wheel drive bandwagon, this M5, with its improved agility and point-and-shoot eagerness, is a true return to form, which is something we don't think anyone's been able to say about an M5 since 2000.

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors


: -

Engine Type


V8 Twin-Turbocharged

Engine Cap





441kW (591 bhp) / 5700 rpm



750 Nm / 5600 rpm



8-speed (A) Steptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


9.5 km/L

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