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2015 BMW M5: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader March 2015

The 2015 BMW M5 supersedan continues the march of a new era for BMW's hallowed high-performance M (for Motorsport) division. Historically, M cars were powered by naturally aspirated, race-inspired engines with high redlines, such as the previous M5's V10, but in these miles-per-gallon-minded times, turbo engines are all the rage. That's largely why the current M5's engine is a lower-revving, twin-turbocharged V8. Instead of being a one-off design for M duty, it's essentially an amped-up version of what you'll find in the cheaper 550i.

Before you accuse us of being Luddites, however, understand that we have absolutely no problem with the M5's 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, which are increases of 115 hp and 20 lb-ft, respectively, over the 550i's V8. If you add the Competition package, hp multiplies to 575, while the limited-production 30th Anniversary Edition pumps up to 600 hp and 516 lb-ft. Fast cars are fun, and any way you slice it, this M5 is very fast. It's also 30 percent more fuel efficient than the previous M5, and it's tangibly more focused on tight roads than the regular 5 Series on which it's based.

We understand, then, why BMW made the switch to turbo power, and we really can't complain about any car that's this awesome. The next generation of M cars is upon us, and we're glad to see that the M division's laserlike focus on performance remains intact.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 M5 gets standard keyless entry/start (finally) and satellite radio, among other minor equipment changes, as well as an available 30th Anniversary Edition with the aforementioned output boost and other exclusive touches.

What We Like

Huge power; amazing handling; high-quality interior; fantastic front seats; full range of technology offerings; available manual transmission

What We Don't

Less exuberant than previous M5s; much cheaper 550i uses a similar engine

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive M5 is motivated by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 rated at 560 hp (575 hp with the Competition package) and 500 lb-ft of torque. BMW's chosen transmission for the car is a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual, but a 6-speed conventional manual is offered as an option.

Fuel economy ranges from 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with the old-fashioned manual to 14 mpg city/20 mpg hwy with the automated manual.

Note that the 30th Anniversary Edition M5 cranks it up to 600 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.

Standard Features & Options

Standard features on the 2015 M5 ($95,850) include 19-inch wheels, a unique M-tuned sport suspension with forged aluminum elements, electronically adjustable dampers, hydraulic power steering without electric assist (the regular 5 Series has electric steering), adaptive xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, fog lights, an electronic limited-slip differential, keyless entry/start, 20-way multicontour sport front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio with hard-drive storage and the iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-in widescreen display.

The optional M carbon ceramic brakes cost as much as a decent used car in its entirety, but their performance is said to be exemplary. The Competition package adds 15 more horses, 20-in wheels with performance tires, revised suspension tuning, refined steering with more direct input (according to BMW) and a sport exhaust. A Bang & Olufsen audio system can be specified in the standard Harman Kardon unit's stead, while an entertainment system with twin screens can be added for rear passengers. The Executive package throws in niceties such as LED headlights, automatic high beams, 4-zone climate control, a head-up display, self-closing doors and a power trunk lid.

Finally, the limited-production 30th Anniversary Edition, only 30 of which (out of 300 total) are bound for our shores, includes the Competition package with even more power and torque, special silver paint, unique wheels and synthetic-suede interior inserts.

The M5's donor car, the 5 Series, may be based on the 7 Series, but its back seat is much less accommodating. Adults can still fit in the back row just fine, but the bench is on the low side, and legroom isn't as ample as you might expect given the car's substantial dimensions. In terms of hauling capacity, the M5's trunk officially measures 14 cu ft., which is low for a midsize sedan. In our experience, though, it's a usefully deep cargo bay.


The M5 is part of the 2015 BMW 5 Series lineup, so it comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain).

The optional Driver Assistance Plus package brings safety aids such as a blind spot monitoring system, a frontal collision-mitigation system, side- and top-view parking cameras, speed limit information and a driver-fatigue monitor.

In government crash-testing, the current 5 Series received a perfect five stars overall, including four stars for front protection and five stars for side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 5 Series its highest rating of Good in almost every tested category, though the second-lowest rating of Marginal was issued in the relatively new small-overlap front test. These test results should broadly apply to the M5, too.

Behind the Wheel

The multicontour sport seats are, in the grand tradition of M5 thrones, incredible. They hug you in all the right places, and the wide range of adjustments ensures that you'll get comfortable behind the wheel no matter what kind of driving you're doing. The gauges use BMW's classic white-on-black theme, changing to orange-on-black at night. Interior materials are superb, while the subtle dashboard design is straight out of the 7 Series' playbook. The standard widescreen iDrive display is nicely integrated and helps give the cabin a thoroughly modern vibe.

On the road, the M5's massive thrust is its dominant characteristic. The twin-turbo V8 is a veritable torque factory that makes the gear you're in almost irrelevant. With maximum torque on hand from just 1,500 revolutions per minute, chances are you're already in the boost if you want it. Let loose at a drag strip, the M5 is impossibly swift for a 4,300-lb luxury sedan, charging through the quarter mile at more than 120 miles per hour, which is fast enough to make all but the strongest sports cars blush. We just wish the engine kept on pulling to its indicated 7,200-rpm redline. Unfortunately, like most turbocharged motors, it starts to run out of steam a good bit earlier.

In terms of handling, the pudgy 2015 BMW M5 feels larger and perhaps a smidge softer than its predecessor, but it still puts up incredible numbers. While the M5 doesn't fully engage drivers in the process, its unique suspension and steering system are greatly appreciated. Around town, you may have to play with the electronically adjustable dampers, but once you've dialed in the right setting, the M5 is ready to glide over bumps like the luxury sedan that it fundamentally is.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Jaguar XFR-S -- With 550 eager supercharged hp and sports-car handling, the ultimate XF just may be a match for the M5.

2015 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG -- The E63 AMG has followed the same path as the M5, switching to a twin-turbocharged V8, which is in this case an incredibly capable 5.5-liter unit. Standard all-wheel drive adds a new element versus the rear-wheel-drive-only M5.

2015 Porsche Panamera -- You can get into a powerful Panamera S for M5 money, and while the S doesn't offer M5-grade acceleration, it does feel sharper in corners. It has an executive-approved back seat, too.

Used BMW Alpina B7 -- If you'd like a larger cabin and a slightly less amped-up character, the Alpina B7 shines as a gracefully tuned version of the V8-powered 750i.

AutoTrader's Advice

We'd get the 6-speed manual for the sheer novelty of harnessing a 560-hp sedan with a clutch. Otherwise, we see no need for tinkering with the standard M5's formula, since this car is exceptionally well equipped.

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2015 BMW M5: New Car Review - Autotrader