First Drive: The New M5

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The most anticipated M Series BMW of 2018, here’s what I think.

To start this article I will voice my opinion and take the hate for it in the comments later, BMW have never made a bad M5 to date. Starting the heritage, the South African only 530MLE was Genesis and was the closest race going version of the then E28 5 Series that raced at Kyalami. Following that, in 1984, the globally made E28 M5 was the first proper 4 door saloon performance car, using the M88 straight-six engine, the very one that made its debut on BMW’s first supercar, the M1. Following the success of the E28 was the E34. The E34 M5 was the last M5 to feature an engine with a historical link to a BMW Motorsport racing engine. From there the E39 M5 got a V8, then a screaming 5 litre V10 in the E60 to a consistent and modern 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 in the F10 which now features in the current car called the F90.

Speaking of power…

The previous generation M5, used the same formula and it worked superbly. Underneath you had a V8 of 4.4 litres which was then twin turbocharged and fixed to a 7 Speed M-DCT gearbox. The result was 412kW and 680Nm which made it good to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds. A Competition Package was made of the F10 which raised power to 423kW, torque remained the same at 680Nm and a reduced 0-100 time of 4.1 seconds was achieved. Later on, the Pure Metal Edition, a South African only built car, celebrating with the 30 Jahre models or 30 Years of M5 editions sold globally, further upgraded power to 441kW, 700Nm and a 0-100 time of 3.9 seconds.

The new M5 has the same power as the limited edition 30 Jahre M5 models of the F10 models, however torque has been raised to 750Nm, 70 Nm above the previous model. The new car has ditched the somewhat old and dying 7 Speed DCT and is now equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This will provide smoother transmission for daily use and that last 8th cog will make a difference to drive on the weekday to work. The F90 is also the first M5 ever to only have an automatic transmission and as a result of this and a 40kg weight loss, it accelerates to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds.

4 Wheel Drive, With An Ace Up It’s Sleeve.

Here we see the BMW M5 on a sunny day making things a bit overcast, basically in its natural habitat. With great power comes great responsibility and for the first time ever, the new M5 comes with 4 wheel drive which naturally makes that ridiculous 0-100 time of 3.4 seconds make more sense. The AWD system called M xDrive starts the car in 4WD with the traction control on but depending on what you want to do with the car, you can change the driving modes around including restoring balance to the world with a RWD mode with no traction control which means you can feel right at home in an M car again.

Unleashing 441kW…

To unleash the full potential of this car, we were let loose on FIA Grade 2 status Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. I engaged all the hero buttons and buried my right foot on the brushed aluminium loud pedal and was immediately thrown back into my seat with sheer force. With stomach-churning acceleration on the main straight, the revised 4.4 litre twin turbo powertrain makes quick use of any straight and paired with the MxDrive AWD system the power felt smooth and consistent. The M5 felt very controlled but brutal, then again you are surrounded by plush luxury as well as a solid weight of 1855kg. Don’t be fooled though, it is tremendously fast.

Speaking of 1855kg…

On the limit, the M5 can stop on a dime thanks to its rather large brakes. The one I had was fitted with Carbon Ceramics which reduced fade greatly. In my opinion if you aren’t gonna track day this car, save yourself some cash and get the standard brakes, they do the same job as the ceramics as the latter only reduce fade under severe conditions such as the above. With sharp handling and turn-in, I was caught off guard at times into a corner due to its lightweight feeling at times. You forget at 240km/h stamping on the brakes 200 metres into a corner that this isn’t a nimble M4 but an almost 2 ton missile.

A few laps on feeling more comfortable with the car I switched to paddle shift to see how much I would miss the old 7-Speed DCT and straight away I can tell you that I don’t. The new 8 speed is so much more smoother, the gear changes aren’t as jerky and on the limit it puts the power down so much better than the previous car. On a day-to-day basis this new gearbox will be very welcome and will transform the car into an everyday 5 Series and funny enough having an 8th cog instead of 7 will provide better economy…in an M5…yes it is possible.


As with any super saloon the cabin is filled with luxury front to back. The pictures really say it all, however the biggest change to point out is the centre console.

The awkward BMW M gear knob is now gone and replacing it is a nice sexier gear selector with added gearbox setting on the top. A new feature is the addition of an exhaust booster button which, does what it says, makes the exhaust louder. Nobody has ever complained of such a thing and neither should you.

The new M5 lives up to its reputation, while many will say it has subtle looks I think the fit is just right. The boldness is still there and so is the noise, speed and power. The sheer fact that a family saloon car can do this blows my mind. With 441kW and 750Nm this makes it more powerful than a Ferrari 458. Think about that for a second, in 2018 we now have family sedans that make supercar power. So, if you are looking for an all rounder with crushing performance then get your cheque books out and make your OTP of R1 762 806 and R2 024 006, 50 for the First Edition.

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