2013 BMW M5 HD Video Review
You don’t have to know much about cars to understand that the 2013 BMW M5 is not common. Or slow. Or inexpensive. Fender vents, unique fascias, and the exhibitionist brake system all say performance without moving an inch. Parked at the curb, the crisp conservative design telegraphs a hoodlum undertone. Fire it up and any sense of subtlety evaporates.
M5 is not simply a bigger M3. It’s more a mature car, made for buyers who built their successful lives years ago and now crave some comfort and polish to go with neck snapping performance. Anthropomorphizing it, M5 is a Fortune 500 CEO who places in Ironman triathlons. Rich, athletic, and extremely rare.
Spendy Too- M5 starts at around 92 grand with destination and gas guzzler tax. Optioned up like the one I’m driving, you’ll fork over 104 large (plus tax and registration of course). Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t.
The V10 is gone now. In its place is a 4.4-liter 560 horsepower twin-scroll twin-turbo V8. Torque is a healthy 500 lb-ft from 1,500 to 5,750 rpm. It drinks premium fuel. Duh. Just gazing at what’s crammed under the hood is fun. The turbos are packaged on top between the cylinder banks to save space. An auto start/stop function is smooth in its operation.
The EPA fuel economy of 15 city, 22 highway won’t concern the target buyer though it’s a significant improvement from the V10 (and about what I’m seeing in the real world). That and a larger fuel tank provides for a longer cruising range.
A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with launch control is standard (BMW loathes the “automatic” descriptor). I am driving the six-speed manual that is a US exclusive and a no cost option. Throws are of moderate length, the action is Deutschland solid, the clutch weight is perfect.
Steering, suspension firmness, and throttle response can be tuned every which way from Sunday. Store your two favorite combinations for instant recall from the steering wheel-mounted M1 and M2 buttons. One for track use, the other for brunch duty.
Fun When You Want- This makes the M5 a pleasant enough daily driver in Seattle’s persistent traffic slog. Production assistant Martin Campbell and I vow to take advantage of the M5 by traveling to empty Eastern Washington roads. No doubt you’ll want track access to wring out this cars full potential.
Fast? Oh, come on, of course it is. 60 miles-an-hour spools by quicker than you can say “honest officer, I had no idea I was driving that fast” (which we came dangerously close to doing). That translates to 4.4 seconds in the manually equipped M5. Supposedly that’s a couple ticks slower than the automatic capable dual-clutch gearbox. Also, both Martin and I find a smooth launch from the six-speed requires concentration. Is the seven-speed the one to go with then? Don’t know. Haven’t driven it.
The deep well of available torque offers up plenty of passing power at any speed. M5 is very impatient below 70 mph, cruising effortlessly at speeds that will get it impounded in America. The structure is as stout as the Brooklyn Bridge, the V8 speaks in a deep baritone. There are rev matching downshifts too.
At The Limits- 4,300 pound cars shouldn’t corner this well but exclusive rear suspension parts, grippy Michelins, hydraulic power steering, and heroic electronics keep it unflappable… right until hard tight turns happen. Then the stability control abruptly steps in (a good thing for inexperienced drivers). Keep in mind, these limits are difficult to explore considering M5s lofty abilities.
Turn the electronic babysitters off and you’re a better driver than me if you can keep the obscenely powerful rear wheels from dancing sideways in hard maneuvers. But really, how hard is the average executive or dentist going to drive their M5?
Now Hear This- The moderate amount of road, engine, and active differential sounds allowed into the cabin have been carefully selected by an automotive sonic sommelier. BMW has gone to the trouble of placing a microphone in the engine bay and telegraphs just the right amount of engine note into the cabin using the sound system speakers. Seriously.
About that differential, put simply, it’s an electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential that’s programmed to optimize traction and stability. Its control unit is connected with the stability control system by a FlexRay high-speed data transfer technology. It constantly cross-checks the data then uses that info to apply the right amount locking force to deliver optimum traction and stability.
Switching into the different driving modes produces a noticeable difference. So really, M5s personality is up to you- firm but comfortable or track day stiff. Massive compound disc brakes stop this substantial sedan right now.
Flying First Class- The exceptionally crafted cabin is proof that business and pleasure can be mixed successfully. Expecting carbon fiber trim? That’s so passé, BMW wisely goes for gorgeous textured aluminum. Pedals are perfect. A wide screen LCD displays camera views from all angles to help keep the exterior pristine. Supportive leather seats are infinitely adjustable, the front cushions have a super slow motion massage setting.
Nearly everything- from the side mirrors to the power assisted door closure and rear sunshade- has an electric motor. The heads up display will consistently remind you how far over the speed limit you’re traveling. Cruise control gets radar assist, the substantial steering wheel is heated. Lightly brush the preset buttons for a pop-up reminder of which radio station or navigation point is stored where before you commit.
In the past there was harsh criticism for BMW’s iDrive. They’ve really improved it over the years with direct function buttons and a joystick knob that gets pushed, nudged, and turned. It makes navigating the user interface easier these days but I still find it somewhat distracting to use while driving. And while I’m complaining, BMWs unique turn signal operation is not my favorite. I am willing to keep the car for a few months to see if this all becomes second nature. Just saying.
Moving To The Back- Average sized adults will have a good amount of head, knee, leg and foot room in the outboard positions. There’s dual-zone climate and bun warmers too. M5 has loads amenities back here including sunshades. There’s also has a large driveshaft tunnel that’s awkward for the center passenger. I suggest keeping it to two in the rear for maximum comfort.
While people don’t buy an M5 for trunk space, there are some nice touches. Small storage spaces, a bag hook and covered hinge arms are handy. Performance sedans usually fix the back seats for added chassis rigidity, the M5s split and fold. While the boot isn’t huge, six packs of the two-ply is just fine for road trips.
Summing up, the M5 does a remarkable job of coddling its occupants while compelling them to drive like autobahn regulars. It is remarkable how calmly it cruises at velocities that will have law enforcement doing double takes at their radar gun readouts. As an ordinary Joe, I have a hard time pushing a car this expensive to the limits. My sensible mid-western middle-class upbringing keeps conjuring up the consequences of driving a $100,000 car too hard. Maybe that’s just me though. For those with the means and the desire for both luxury and serious scoot the 2013 M5 is the kind of vehicle only BMW can build.