I recently had the chance to drive the 2018 BMW M5, which is a midsize luxury sedan you could use to drive around your kids, your family, whatever. Except you could also use it to speed away from supercars, because the M5 does 0-to-60 in 2.8 seconds. I am not exaggerating this figure. The BMW M5 now does 0-to-60 in 2.8 seconds.
Let’s back up to the start of my M5 experience. I borrowed the M5 from Crevier BMW in Orange County, California, which is the largest BMW dealership on Earth. They have a 6-story parking garage full of BMWs. They have dozens of X5s. Hundreds, maybe. As one salesperson told me: If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.
And, indeed, they have a few new M5s, so they invited me to come and drive the M5, and that’s exactly what I did. Well, first I should say that I spent several hours with it to appreciate all of its quirks and features, which are plentiful. For instance: In the new BMW M5, you can get Yelp reviews from your car. Not just check in on a local business and see what their score is. I mean you can actually go on Yelp and see what Jocelyn said about Jimmy’s Pet Supply, and what score she gave it. You can go on Flickr and browse photos from the area where you’re driving. You can go on Wikipedia. When I was at the BMW dealer, I looked up the local high school on Wikipedia. For those of you worried this might get distracting, never fear: it will also read you everything.
So, anyway, the M5 is loaded with technology, and you’ll clearly see this fact if you watch the video above. But it’s not all about tech: this thing also drives like you’d expect it to when you see the “M5” badge on the back.
Let’s start with turning. The steering is relatively light, which is (unfortunately) a reality of all vehicles now in the days of electronics. You can tighten it up, going between a dizzying array of modes and driving programs, but it still feels looser than the hydraulic steering everyone obsesses over in the E39 M5. The days of truly great steering feel are probably behind us. Fortunately for the M5, this isn’t an area I can say any competitor does it better: the AMG E63S and Panamera Turbo both feel light in the steering wheel, too.
Handling, however, is excellent. Once you get used to the light steering, you quickly discover that the M5 is amazingly predictable, with virtually no body roll and an incredibly linear steering feel. On hard corners, it actually starts to feel like a sports car — which is almost unbelievable, considering the curb weight is something astonishing, like 4,400 pounds. BMW has truly found a way to engineer out the immense weight of this vehicle so it feels basically as tossable as the older, smaller M5 models of the past — and I’d wager anyone who complains about how big and heavy the new M5 has become simply hasn’t driven it. Yes, it’s big and heavy on paper, but it drives smaller than it is.
It also drives faster than it is. The 0-to-60 in 2.8 thing really blows me away, because I remember a time not so long ago — only a decade — when the Ferrari Enzo was the fastest thing that moved, and it did 0-to-60 in like 3.2 seconds. Now we have a midsize luxury sedan doing it in 2.8. This comes courtesy of all-wheel drive, which was a necessity: In order to get the M5’s insane 600 horsepower to the ground, BMW simply had to add more drive wheels, just as AMG did a few years ago. This doesn’t have any noticeable effect on handling, but it definitely improves acceleration, as the car now moves at a monstrously fast pace. Once again, you’ll feel like you’re in a sports car.
I was especially impressed with the transmission, as BMW has ditched the dual-clutch automatic — which basically everyone else uses, including the prior-generation M5 — in favor of a true torque converter. I thought this would harm acceleration, but it doesn’t — and if you look down at the tachometer while you’re driving, the shifts look as quick as they do in a dual-clutch car. If I didn’t know this thing had a torque converter, I would’ve assumed it was a dual clutch.
Maybe the best part is still to come: you won’t feel like you’re in a sports car if you don’t wish to. That’s because, if you bring all the modes to their most comfortable setting, lay off the throttle and go around corners a little more deliberately, the M5 really feels like the luxury car that it is — a nice, upscale sedan that will cool your butt and softly roll over bumps as you cruise down the street. It’s amazing how much of a split personality this car has, delivering you the best of basically all worlds.
Of course, this comes at a massive cost: The one I drove was priced at around $125,000, and there aren’t many deals to be had. Then again, maybe that price isn’t so egregious. Normally, if you want supercar-beating acceleration and a proper luxury sedan, you have to buy two cars. And you’d spend a lot more than $125,000.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.