2018 BMW M5: Still the Last Word in Super Sedans? [Review]

This Ultimate Driving Machine can ultimately hit a top speed of 190 miles per hour.

2018 F90 BMW M5

OVERVIEW

This latest iteration 2018 BMW M5 breaks away from traditional M5s of the past. To provide a bit of history, the first BMW M5 bowed in Europe in 1984 as the fastest production sedan of the period. Its speed was rated at 152 mph, thanks to its 3.5-liter straight-six engine derived from the BMW M1 supercar. Ever since, BMW has improved the recipe, making it more powerful and faster with each generation. One thing didn’t change, though. The M5 was always been a large four-door sedan based on the regular 5-Series, and it was always rear-wheel drive.

2018 BMW M5
2018 BMW M5 (European model shown). [Photo: BMW]
The key word there is “was”. Enter the BMW M5 for 2018, which is the first all-wheel drive model. However, it does still rear-wheel drive capability. There’s no manual transmission available, unfortunately, as in previous generation. There’s only an 8-speed automatic here.

There are no active roll bars, no variable-ratio steering gear, and no rear-wheel steering feature. Damping is adjustable from the cockpit, with three settings of tune. There’s a soft setting, as well as two other settings suitable primarily for a track. Each gives the 2018 BMW M5 a progressively stiffer ride.

2018 F90 BMW M5
2018 BMW M5. [Photo: BMW]

ATTRACTIVE STYLING

In terms of its visual appeal, this latest BMW M5 carries over the styling of the regular 5 Series sedan with a few small notable differences. Up front, there are larger, pronounced air intake vent openings which enhance cooling. BMW also fitted subtle M5 badging, and distinct 19-inch wheels, shod with staggered Michelin Pilot Sport tires. 20-inch wheels are available as an option.

2018 BMW M5
The F90 BMW M5 packs a 600 horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. [Photo: BMW]

PERFORMANCE

At the heart of the beast is a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine with variable valve control and high-precision direct injection. It pumps out a whopping 600 horsepower in a range from 5,700 to 6,600 rpm. On top of that, it also develops 553 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 to 5,700 rpm. The 0-60 mph time in the 2018 BMW M5 is a scant 3.2 seconds and it rockets from 0-124 mph in only 11.1 seconds. The top speed is 189 mph when outfitted with the optional M Driver’s Package. If you don’t choose that package, the top speed is limited to the standard 155 mph.

2018 F90 BMW M5
This M5 has all-wheel drive, although you can take it back to rear-wheel drive through the iDrive system. [Photo: BMW]
Motive force is geared through an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and available Launch Control. Your choice of settings determines where the power is sent through the M xDrive all-wheel drive system. The car uses a central transfer case with a fully-variable multi-plate clutch for fully-variable torque distribution between front and rear axle. That can split torque 50-50 from front to rear, or it can send 100 percent of available power strictly to the rear axle.

Tailoring performance to your liking

There are five different settings in the M5’s iDrive system that sends torque to the front axle by way of an electronically controlled clutch pack. Each of the settings control how the car engages its stability control systems and sends torque to the front axle. The enthusiast-geared option, however, delivers rear-wheel drive performance with stability control off and all 600 horsepower for some tail-out action.

The cross-bank exhaust manifolds have been modified to optimize the flow of energy from the exhaust gas to the turbine wheels of the two twin-scroll turbochargers ensuring the best possible gas-exchange cycle. The M Sound Control button allows further acoustic customization – emitting a sweet sound indeed.

Despite the departure from the traditional M5’s strict rear-wheel drive layout, the 2018 BMW M5 is a joy to “pilot”. Pilot is another key word here, as the car literally flies around a track. Not only does it fly, but it is extremely stable – or not, if you prefer. There are enough variable controls and settings to dial in one’s desired level of performance. Drivers can set up the car however they’d like to match their desired sort of driving and skill level.

TFLCAR’S TAKE

The 2018 BMW M5 begs to be pushed hard – in the proper setting, of course. Drifting is possible if that’s your thing. Or, if you’re more interested in setting impressive lap times, the car sticks to the surface with ultimate control and stability, as if its on rails. You can change the engine characteristics at the push of a button. By doing so, the car can shift from its basic Efficient setting to Sport or Sport Plus.

2018 BMW M5 review
The 2018 BMW M5 features all the comfort and tech features you’d expect from a modern 5 Series sedan. [Photo: BMW]
The base 2018 BMW M5 starts off at $102,600. For that, you get most of the standard comfort and convenience features you would expect in any 5 Series model. The as-tested sticker, on the other hand, came out to $129,795. That’s after you factor in the Driving Assistance Plus Package, Executive Package, M-branded carbon ceramic brakes and the 20-inch M light alloy wheels. Other features included Apple CarPlay compatibility, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, the M Driver’s Package, destination charges and the inevitable gas guzzler tax.

The 2018 BMW M5 doesn’t come cheaply. But if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth it. Think of it as setting a new tradition in the high performance sedan category. It’s a tradition worthy of high praise.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 BMW M5 (standard model)

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $102,600
Price as Tested:
$129,795
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
Drivetrain (Layout): Longitudinally-mounted front engine, all-wheel drive (selectable rear-wheel drive)
Horsepower: 600 hp @ 5,700 – 6,600 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1,800 – 5,700 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed M Steptronic automatic
Suspension: Front: Adaptive M with double wishbone axle, M-specific kinematics, Variable Damper Control (VDC)

Rear: Adaptive M with five-link axle, Variable Damper Control (VDC)

Brakes: Front: M compound brakes, vented, with 6-piston fixed calipers

Rear: M compound brakes, vented, single-piston floating calipers

Tires: Front: Michelin Pilot Sport 275/30 ZR20 on 9.5×19-inch wheels

Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport 285/35 ZR20 on 10.5×19-inch wheels

Fuel capacity: 20.1 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 15 City / 21 Highway / 17 Combined mpg

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 117.4 inches
Length: 195.5 inches
Width: 54.3 inches
Height: 74.9 inches
Turning Circle: 41.3 feet
Curb Weight: 4,370 pounds

 

Arv Voss
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.