BMW M5 saloon
- Incredible performance
- Fast and comfortable
- Luxurious interior
- Pricey to buy
- Expensive to run
- Poor mpg and high emissions
At a glance
"The BMW M5 is one of the fastest and best-handling executive saloons money can buy, but it's very expensive."
The BMW M5 is powered by a turbocharged V8 petrol engine that produces a huge amount of power. The suspension is electronically controlled and can be tuned for more speed or greater comfort with the easy-to-use steering-wheel-mounted controls.
Everything about the M5 is driver-focused, from the weighting of the steering to the responsive gearbox. It retains all the most appealing features of the standard BMW 5 Series, such as its well constructed interior, big boot and excellent everyday useability.
Optional extras include optional sports leather seats, a head-up display and a big 10.2-inch sat-nav screen. Key rivals for the M5 include the Mercedes E63 AMG and Jaguar XFR-S supersaloons.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Strong used values won't offset sky-high running costs
Speed is a thirsty mistress, and the M5 drinks fuel at a ferocious rate, with average fuel economy of 28.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 232g/km resulting in an annual tax bill of £490. We found that number drops to around 15mpg if you drive the M5 aggressively, which most buyers are very likely to do. Although this M5 is 30% more efficent than the car it replaced, it's still hugely expensive to run.
Engines, drive & performance
The extremely fast M5 is a thrilling car to drive
Describing the M5 as 'fast' just doesn't do it justice. The car produces 552bhp from a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine, which means accelerating from 0-62mph takes just 4.4 seconds. Plus, the optional Tuning package increases the car's top speed from 155 to 190mph. You can electronically tune virtually every aspect of how it drives to suit you, from how responsive the steering is to how quickly it changes gear.
Yet whatever set-up you favour, the M5 is always thrilling to drive. Acceleration is breath-taking, even if you put your foot down in third or fourth gear. Thankfully, there's also plenty of grip to keep you pointing in the right direction.
Interior & comfort
The M5's clever suspension means it's as comfortable as any rival on rough roads
Using the various electronic controls on offer, you can make the M5 surprisingly comfortable given its performance focus. Turn the suspension to its softest setting and the car will smooth out most of the bumps in the road just as effectively as a regular 5 Series does. The engine is quiet at cruising speeds, while wind and tyre noise are kept at bay by thick double-glazed windows. Everything is relative, though, so don't expect the height of comfort – this is still a sports saloon first and foremost.
Practicality & boot space
Incredible performance combined with decent practicality
The M5 is still a BMW 5 Series, so it's spacious on the inside and the 520-litre boot capacity isn't bad at all. You also get a large glovebox and deep door bins. Ultimately, the M5 gives you all the trimmings of the class-leading executive saloon, but with the extra kick of genuinely heart-pounding performance.
Reliability & safety
The M5 feels just as well built as the standard 5 Series
You'd expect an upmarket manufacturer such as BMW to come higher than 15th place in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey’s manufacturer rankings, and the brand also finished behind its premium rivals. Lexus topped the survey and Mercedes came fifth, so BMW's focus on producing the 'ultimate driving machine' may have sacrificed some comfort and reliability.
However, there's no denying that the current M5 is extremely well built, but it's likely to be bought by people who are going to wring every last drop of performance out of it, so it needs to be very robust. The good news is that the standard 5 Series saloon ranked an impressive 11th in the 2013 Driver Power ranking of the UK's top 100 cars, which indicates owners are generally more than happy with its durability.
The 5 Series is also a very safe car and the M5 shares its maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. Electronic stability control, a full complement of airbags and rear parking sensors are all fitted as standard.
Price, value for money & options
Very expensive, but exclusivity is guaranteed
You'd better want the M5's performance pretty badly, because you really pay for it. But you're paying for exclusivity, too, as the M5 is a rare sight on UK roads – not to mention all the driver-focused accessories and technology that make the M5 so thrilling. Plus, it's well equipped with standard leather sports seats, climate control, keyless entry and 19-inch alloy wheels.
So you won't be short-changed on kit – but you will need deep pockets to both buy and run the M5. The good news is that the car's excellent resale values on the used market go some way towards making up for this. The used car experts at CAP reckon it'll retain 51% of its purchase price after three years or 36,000 miles of ownership.