Up: Super fast, super stylish, all the tech
Down: The one you really want is $20K over starting price
Neutral: The best, and scariest, of every world
On the same day I got to spend about as much time with the 2018 BMW M5 as I did with the 2019 BMW M2 Competition and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out who the former was targeted towards. Surely a responsible parent wouldn’t purchase the new M5 to give their kids a thrill from time-to-time because it’s so terrifyingly fast, they would throw up all over the Merino Leather. However, a single person wouldn’t need large size and extra doors so they’d probably gravitate towards the M2 or M4, right? Maybe. But they’d regret it every time an M5 blew their doors off on the street. So who the heck would want one of these things? I was determined to find out one pull after another.
The BMW M5 debuted in 1985 as the world’s first performance-sedan and is currently on its 6th generation with the 2018 model. In its time, the M5 evolved from a 6-cylinder engine to an 8 cylinder engine to a 10 cylinder engine, which I got to drive, and in 2010 went back to a more subtle V8. Well, subtle might be the wrong word because BMW also tacked on two turbos to the V8 giving it 560 horsepower in 2010. Since then, the M5 has only become lighter, more aerodynamic, and more powerful; clocking in at 600 hp today.
Speaking of weight loss, the 2018 BMW M5 is, standard, 20 pounds lighter than its predecessor. So even though BMW has added the M-xDrive all-wheel-drive system, they’ve still managed to shed lbs. And the savings don’t stop there. BMW has used more lightweight aluminum on the platform, installed a lithium ion battery, and added a gorgeous exposed carbon fiber roof. Add the optional $8500 carbon-ceramic brakes and you’re looking at a total weight savings of 110 pounds!
Now how BMW got a still two-ton car to handle like a Fiat 500, I’ll never know. Part of the magic is the carbon fiber roof lowering the center of gravity, but the rest is only known by the wizards in the “M” division. Seriously, if you would have put me in the car, had me do a hot lap, and then told me there were two more seats and a trunk behind me, I wouldn’t believe you. BMW has said they’ve “radically overhauled” the suspension, giving the 2018 M5 a bit wider hips, beefed up the springs and dampening, and did a bunch of calibrating with the computers that control the suspension. Given all of the personal settings you’re able to select from the driver’s seat, you’re sure to find a mode that drops your jaw.
And the driver’s seat is a fantastic place to be. On the exterior and interior, the M5 has all of the expected “M” goodies that you get with any M car so I won’t go over them all. The interior is gorgeous and modern and comfortable but there are two things that stand out right away. First are the bright red “M1” and “M2” buttons on either side of the steering wheel. No, these don’t fire missiles, but I wish they did. Instead, they are a quick portal into your favorite M5 configurations. For example, you could setup “M1” for comfort and “M2” for track so you never have to go through all of the settings again. Just punch your preferred missile, er, M Drive button and go!
The other interior flourish you’ll notice are all the high-tech buttons on the center console highlighted in red. The shift knob mostly looks cool and puts your car into gear, adn the three buttons to the left are a quick access to your driving dynamics. You can make the vehicle sportier, the suspension stiffer, and the steering more responsive. Plus, while you’re cycling through these settings, the all digital gauge in front of you changes to reflect your modes as well. Pretty neat stuff to impress your date, right? Sigh. Let’s face it, your date definitely won’t care. This is strictly to impress kids.
And finally, there’s the M5’s soup du jour…wait…coupe de grâce; its blistering acceleration. This thing goes from 0-60 mph in damn near 3 seconds AND feels even faster because of its size and purpose. I’ve been very fortunate to drive the 2018 Dodge Demon, which does 0-60 a little under a second quicker, but the 2018 M5 offers nearly the same thrill without needing practice or burning out to heat up the tires. Thanks xDrive! And when you do find an empty road to really put your foot down, the M5 rewards you with an insanely cool blooming graphic that tells you when to shift. (See video below)
In short, the 2018 BMW M5 is a mullet; party under the hood, and business in the cabin. If it were a rear-wheel-drive and 6-speed manual transmission only car, it would be too frightening to own. But somehow the M xDrive Intelligent AWD system and 8-speed Steptronic transmission real it back into quite civilized territory. If you’re searching for a vehicle to brag about to coworkers during the week, and to safely scare your kids on the weekend, then you want a car who’s business is pleasure. You want the 2018 BMW M5.