The new M5 will assuredly be profitable. But whether it is spectacular or merely great—many people would put a 4300-pound luxury sedan that hits 60 mph in 3.7 seconds firmly in the former category—it’s definitely no parts-bin badge job.
The M5 spurns the electric-assist steering in lesser 5-series models for a more natural-feeling hydraulic boost. And thanks to sharper camber and caster settings, the car’s commitment to the driver’s desired trajectory is firmer than in the wandering 5s and 7s we’ve driven lately.
Speaking of acceleration numbers, we have them, stolen on a quiet side road in southern Spain while nobody was looking except some ducks and possibly a Chinese spy satellite. It took a while to master the new M5’s picayune order of button pushing and lever pulling to activate the launch control (example: Step on the brake but not too hard, hold the shift lever forward but not for too long).
Well, with the M5, one must remember that it remains unapologetically a heavyweight. It is an executive express, a velvet-wrapped hammer, a shark in whale’s clothes. It is not a four-door Lotus Elise. BMW figures M5 owners are richer than M3 owners and that they want commensurate levels of luxury and gizmology. Indeed, you cannot select a gear, push a pedal, or turn the wheel in the new M5 without assistance from the many watchful computers monitoring your every bodily twitch.
If the M5 achieves its stated goal of a 30-percent gain in fuel economy, combined mpg could reach 20 when the EPA gets around to rating it. BMW is also strongly hinting that the U.S. market will again get a manual-transmission option.