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2013 BMW M5 Review

Perhaps the most coveted model from one of the world’s most coveted brands, the BMW M5 has been the benchmark high performance sports sedan since it was introduced in 1980 as the M535i. Combining the carrying capacity of a mid-size sedan with the performance attributes of a sports car, the BMW M5 virtually invented the category it still rules to this day. Having evolved over four subsequent generations, the 2013 BMW M5 was introduced in September of 2011 at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The car’s North American debut came a couple of months later at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November of 2011.

For this current model (internally referred to as F10), BMW has moved away from normally aspirated high revving engines like the Formula One inspired 500-horsepower V10 from the previous generation E63 BMW M5. Turbocharging and direct fuel injection have taken over at BMW (like at most other manufacturers) so the new M5 uses a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 producing 560 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of torque. By the way, those 500 ft-lbs of torque are available at 1,500 rpm, which basically means instantaneously.

The word fast hardly begins to describe the 2013 BMW M5. Zero to 60 happens in 4.1 seconds. The BMW runs the quarter in just over 12 seconds. It pulls nearly a full .g on the skidpad and were it not for the 155 miles per hour gentleman’s velocity limitation agreement between German manufacturers, this new M5 would quite easily approach the 200 miles per hour mark.

Like the previous version of the BMW, the 2013 M5 offers the driver the ability to tailor its key controls to taste. Steering effort, transmission shift speed (with the sequential gearbox), throttle response, and suspension damping are all adjustable. When you find two settings you like; say, one for driving hard and another for cruising, you can store and recall them at the touch of one of the two “M” buttons on the steering wheel.

Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual, which is becoming more and more of an anachronism—and an outstanding seven-speed automated dual clutch sequential manual gearbox, which BMW refers to as the M-DCT (M-dual clutch transmission). We drove with both transmissions and without question, the BMW feels more alive with the M-DCT. The six-speed manual’s throws were too long, the gearbox felt vague, and frankly, we were left asking what’s the point of depressing a clutch pedal anymore anyway?

Yes, manual transmissions used to be preferred over automatic transmissions. But automatic transmissions were inferior when it came to the demands of performance-oriented driving back then. Clinging to manuals more out of nostalgia than any sound reasoning these days, many “driving enthusiasts” claim the manual transmission makes them feel more in control of the car. Well, that’s changed y’all—get over it. The M-DCT shifts faster and more accurately, blips the throttle to match revs on downshifts, permits considerably finer control over the engine’s torque output, and is just plain better in every way. Further, the M-DCT offers smooth automatic operation when driving around town or mired in traffic jams. It really is the best of all worlds.

But enough about transmissions already.

Similarly, the new M5 is considerably more refined than the car it replaces—in every way. While many might decry this as the BMW losing its edge, we like the fact it is faster, handles better, is still capable of inhaling long stretches of road (whether straight or serpentine) in very short amounts of time, and yet uses less fuel. Long story short, this new M5 is better in every performance parameter—while being simultaneously more cultivated.

However, some may find this disconcerting.

If you’re the sort of driver who only feels connected when your car is demanding you put up with a harsh ride, a howling exhaust system and copious amounts of road noise, the 2013 BMW M5 might come across as a bit soft to you. On the other hand, if you’re a sophisticated driver who enjoys a truly fast and responsive automobile, but also appreciates the fact the car will drop away and become unobtrusive when you’re going about your day to day mundanities, you’ll covet this M5 just as much as every iteration of the BMW that came before it.

In a word, this is the most sophisticated BMW M5 ever offered.

It delivers all the performance you expect from a sedan with the M badge affixed to its rump, while simultaneously serving up comfort and fluidity approaching the levels of BMW’s flagship 7 Series cars. To our way of thinking, that is far more of an accomplishment than building the highest performing car you can get away with—noise vibration and harshness be damned. Then, once you’ve done that, harnessing your PR team with the task of convincing buyers these sacrifices are needed—even desired—as some sort of badge of honor or a claim of “keeping it real”.

Bottom line, BMW has raised the bar yet again. This new M5 represents nothing less than the reinvention of what an ultra high performance sports sedan is supposed to be.

And, we like it.

Pricing starts at $90,695 (including destination charges).