The 2018 BMW M5 is the high-performance version of the latest generation of 5 Series sedan. And behind those seemingly straightforward words is a plethora of power, equipment, technology, development, technical genius and breathless superlatives.
That’s because the new, sixth-generation M5 isn’t merely a souped-up midsize luxury sedan. It breaks with M tradition (M versions of crossovers excepted) by not coming with a manual transmission and not being rear-wheel drive. BMW usually calls its all-wheel drive system "xDrive." This one is called "M xDrive." It works in rear-drive mode most of the time (which is a first for an xDrive system) and will even let the driver indulge in tail-out slides, but can send torque to the front wheels if things get too precarious. When all four wheels are sending the M5’s massive 600 horsepower to the ground, the result is a remarkable standstill-to-60 mile per hour time of 3.2 seconds. Reaching 124 mph only requires 11.1 seconds.
Straight-line speed, however, is only one attribute. Like every other M vehicle, this one was developed on the Nürburgring’s North Loop, recognized as the world’s most challenging 14.2 miles for driver and machine alike. Weight-saving measures include using aluminum body panels and suspension components, a roof made of light-yet-strong carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), and brake discs made of a compound lighter than regular cast-iron units.
Despite having lots of power and even rear-wheel steering to give it some agility, the previous M5 didn’t really hit the spot. This fresh generation obliterates it.
What’s New for 2018?
The M5 is all-new for this model year. The factory code is F90 (BMW nuts like that kind of thing).
What We Like
Power, handling, technology … all awesome; high-quality interior; fantastic front seats
What We Don’t
This car costs more than $100,000, and BMW wants to charge $300 for Apple CarPlay smartphone integration
$103,595. Add $1,700 gas guzzler tax as well.
A twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 generates 600 hp and 533 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters; the M xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system is standard.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 15 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. The engine has an auto stop/start function to save a little fuel when the car is idling.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 BMW M5 ($103,595) 4-seater premium midsize sedan comes with 19-inch wheels (9.5 inches wide at the front, 10.5 inches wide at the rear), selectable driving modes, M-tuned sport suspension with aluminum components, electronically controlled dampers, active M limited-slip rear differential, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, aerodynamic body additions, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry/ignition, heated/20-way multi-contour/power-adjustable sport front seats with memory settings, leather upholstery, Alcantara (simulated suede, but lighter than the real thing) headliner, 12.3-in digital driver information display, head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, navigation with over-the-air updates, 10.2-in touchscreen, gesture control, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, active blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, rearview camera, ambient cabin lighting, power-operated trunk lid, universal garage door opener, Bluetooth, 16-speaker/600-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system with CD player, AM/FM/HD/satellite radio, 20GB music storage and two USB ports.
A Driving Assistance Plus Package brings adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, Traffic Jam Assist (which helps with steering, brakes and acceleration), front cross-traffic alert, evasive steering assistance and active lane-keeping with side collision avoidance.
An Executive package adds a self-parking feature for parallel and perpendicular spaces, parking sensors at both ends, a 360-degree camera system, a powered rear sunshade, manual rear side window shades, ventilated/massaging front seats, heated rear seats, quad-zone automatic climate control, Wi-Fi, wireless device charging and soft-close doors.
The M Driver’s package is a day’s tuition in high-performance driving on tracks in California or South Carolina.
Other options include carbon-ceramic brakes, 20-in alloy wheels, 16-speaker/1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system rear seat entertainment system with twin screens, infrared-based night vision/pedestrian detection system, powered moonroof and the aforementioned Apple CarPlay.
Trunk space is a commodious 18.7 cu ft.
The M5 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain).
The new M5 hasn’t been crash-tested, but the regular 5 Series has, earning the top score of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with four stars for front impact protection and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 5 Series a Top Safety Pick Plus.
Behind the Wheel
The multi-contour sport seats are incredible, hugging their occupants in all the right places, and the wide range of adjustment ensures everyone can get comfortable behind the wheel. Interior materials are superb, while the dashboard design is simultaneously functional and classy. The standard widescreen iDrive display is well-integrated and helps give the cabin a high-tech feel.
The M5’s thrust is so intense it almost creates its own weather system. The twin-turbo V8 has enough torque to make gears virtually irrelevant. Let loose at a drag strip and the M5 is impossibly swift for a 4,370-pound luxury sedan, charging through the quarter-mile at more than 120 mph — fast enough to embarrass plenty of sports machines. The carbon-ceramic brakes are expensive, but shave 50 pounds off the curb weight and won’t fade.
Handling-wise, this M5 is far more engaging that its predecessor. Driving around town may involve playing with the electronically adjustable dampers, but once the right setting has been dialed in, the M5 should behave more like a conventional luxury sedan.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi RS 7 — Makes 560 hp. Due for replacement soon, though.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S — The E 63 S comes with 603 hp, all-wheel drive and many high-tech features.
Used Mercedes-AMG S 65 — Bigger than the M5 and enjoys a glorious 621-hp V12 engine.
It looks like the premium midsize sport sedan class has a new king. If the funds are there, the fun can begin. We recommend the extraordinary Bowers & Wilkins audio system.