Since then, BMW and the like have been creating cars to get top executives to the boardroom from Monday to Friday and hunt supercars over the weekend. Unfortunately, the supercars have become quite fast and BMW has had to rethink its strategy and usher in a new kind of performance sedan. I went to the ideal place to sample the new BMW M5, the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit.
In its latest F90 guise, the M5 is easily identifiable as the flagship performance car within the 5-series line-up, thanks to a few subtle hints. These include a more aggressive front bumper, a bulging bonnet, slats on the side with M5 badging, large black and chrome alloy wheels, upgraded brake discs and callipers, a more sculptured rear end and those quad outlets. As with its predecessors, it is guaranteed to warrant a second look.
Don’t expect a stripped out race car when it comes to the new M5. Instead, you get large sports seats with added support to ensure that you don’t move about. The dashboard is much like that of the new 5-series in that it features a top mounted infotainment screen, a driver-focused feel and everything is well placed.
One of the big differences though is that the M5’s dash features a lot of carbon-fibre inserts, which has been integrated rather well with the surrounding leather trim. It also gets a new gear squared off gear lever with red stitching and carbon inserts.
In addition, the steering wheel also features red detailing in the form of two red buttons, M1 and M2. These let you select how you would like the car to be set up in terms of engine, gearbox and suspension feedback and even traction control settings. M1 can be set up for normal driving conditions with a focus on comfort, while M2 is designed to hunt supercars.
Underneath its bonnet sits the familiar twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 from the previous M5, but with a series of tweaks applied to lift power from 412kW/680Nm to a mammoth 441kW/750Nm. Connected to this is an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox instead of the previous seven-speed M DCT, which I suspect was done to better suit the car that lies underneath.
An AWD M5?
One of the biggest changes made to the M5 though is how it gets that power to the road. You see, the rear wheels of a car can only handle so much power before they become as useful as a cow on a frozen lake. BMW has recognised this and has decided to make the M5 all-wheel drive.
While a sore point with traditional enthusiasts, the M5 has three modes; 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD that lets you make the decision. This newfound traction means that the M5 will reach 100km/h from standstill in 3.4 seconds and top out at 250km/h. Opt for the optional M Driver’s Package though, and the speed is raised to 305km/h.
There is also a drift mode which takes the complex art of drifting away from you and gives it to the car’s onboard computers.
After a few laps around the Kyalami, it was rather humbling to know that these cars have a future. A few years ago, we all thought that big, high-performance cars were a thing of the past and need to be locked away, forgotten about.
The new M5 is not only lighter than before but also more technologically advanced and with supercar-rivalling performance figures. Like previous M5’s though, underneath it is a still a well-built, spacious and luxurious 5-series than you park in your garage for R1 762 806.