Not only is the 2019 BMW M5 the most powerful and capable M5 ever built, but it could also be one of the best BMWs ever. And that’s from a company responsible for creating scores of amazing cars. Two years into a new (sixth) generation, the F90 M5 is a feat of engineering that makes the description “high-performance midsize luxury sedan” seem rather prosaic.
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 RWD 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 power to the tarmac, the result is a remarkable 0-to-60 mph 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.
What’s New for 2019?
Apple CarPlay smartphone integration becomes standard (we griped about it being an option last year; still no Android Auto available, though). Oh, and BMW introduces an even more powerful version, the 617-hp 2019 M5 Competition. See the 2019 BMW M5 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Power, handling, technology … all awesome
- High-quality interior
- Fantastic front seats
What We Don’t
- We’ll have to get back to you
A twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 in the regular 2019 M5 generates 600 horsepower and 533 lb-ft of torque. The M5 Competition has the same engine, but is tuned to produce 617 hp. Torque remains the same.
The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, while the M xDrive intelligent AWD system is standard, too.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for both M5 versions at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in combined driving. The engines have a stop/start function to save a little fuel when idling.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 BMW M5 ($103,695) 4-seater premium midsize sport sedan comes with 19-in alloy 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, an Alcantara (simulated suede, but lighter than the real thing) headliner, a 12.3-in digital driver information display, a head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, navigation with over-the-air updates, a 10.2-in touchscreen, gesture control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, active blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, ambient cabin lighting, a power-operated trunk lid, a universal garage door opener, Bluetooth, a 16-speaker/600-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system with CD/MP3 player, an AM/FM/HD/satellite radio, 20 GB music storage and two USB ports.
The 2019 M5 Competition ($110,995) brings 20-in alloy wheels, dedicated suspension tuning, revised engine mounts and a unique exhaust system.
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 power 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. In the M5 Competition, this bundle also raises the sedan’s top speed to 189 mph.
Other options include carbon-ceramic brakes, 20-in alloy wheels, a 16-speaker/1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, a rear seat entertainment system with twin screens, an infrared-based night vision/pedestrian detection system and a powered moonroof.
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 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+.
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-lb 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.
The M5 Competition is claimed to run from 0-to-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, which is 0.1 of a second quicker than the regular M5. These are BMW’s numbers, however, and the company has a history of being conservative in this respect. Even so, three seconds to 60 mph (give or take a tenth or two) is still blazing.
Some re-tuning to the Competition’s engine not only raises horsepower, but also extends the torque curve into higher revs (from 1,800 to 5,860 rpm), close to where peak power is achieved (6,000 rpm), so there’s a linear power delivery that’s also relentlessly muscular.
Handling-wise, the well-balanced M5 is deeply engaging, with virtually limitless grip and poise. The Competition version’s chassis is sportier (as in firmer), but still completely bearable for everyday use. 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
Used Mercedes-AMG S 65 — Bigger than the M5 and enjoys a glorious 621-hp V12 engine.
If you’re considering the M5 Competition (why wouldn’t you?) and plan on taking it for some track days, then go for the carbon ceramic brakes. We also recommend the Driver Assistance Plus package, plus the excellent Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Find a BMW M5 for sale