The BMW M5 has always held an odd place in the ranks. If you think about it enough, it can confuse you. It looks a bit like the average sedan (or “saloon”), has motorsport badges all over it, produces enough horsepower to shred the tires off the rear wheels, has luxurious interior features, and has motorsport derived engines throughout just about every generation of its existence. The class of cars that fit this narrative are known to us today as “super sedans.” This is a class that the M5 arguably birthed, coming before the Charger Hellcat, Panamera Turbo, E63 AMG, CTS-V, and RS7 that we know today. The “sport sedan” may have existed, but nothing like the M5 had been fathomed.
Today, you can go pick up a brand new M5 with 600hp and all-wheel drive from the factory for just over $100k. That’s great, but it’s also terrible. More “usable” power, less weight, and more aggressive design can’t possibly be terrible… until you consider the M5s before this current generation. Obviously as times change, the need for more power increases and becomes something that all sports car manufacturers compete each other with, therefore putting more power into their new models. I’m not opposed to more power! My issue lies in just about everything else that has changed over the years. Of course, cars are less involving as time goes on, but where does it end if you’re making a car like the M5?
BMW F10 M5
Let’s go back in time, starting with my biggest issue: the drivetrain. The current generation of M5 actually shares the same basic engine layout, but that’s where it ends. The new M5 offers an 8-speed traditional automatic transmission compared to the F10 (previous generation 2013-2016), which came with a DCT 7-speed. BMW has also stopped offering the car in a manual transmission with the new generation. The reason for having a traditional automatic gearbox was the new all-wheel drive system in the new F90. Making an all-wheel drive compatible DCT would have probably cost BMW more money to develop, so they seemingly chose a bigger profit margin over making a better car. Regardless, I believe that going all-wheel drive in the F90 has removed the last ounce of rawness that was left in the M5.
Driving the BMW F10 M5
I can keep going back in time to pick apart every little aspect of the ultimate super sedan that has been robbed from us through the years, but that isn’t what I intend to do. Rather than point out the obvious negatives, I want to point out the silver lining that I don’t think we quite appreciate. I feel that the F10 M5 is the best M5 ever made. Not the purest, not the rawest, and not the most complex. Rather than being very strong at all of these attributes, it balances them perfectly for the everyday driver. This is not a car that pretends to be a hardcore sports coupe and neither does it pretend to be an extremely luxurious full-size sedan. The F10 fits neatly in the middle of the scale.
Driving the F10 for two days allowed me to see the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of this machine. I was able to cruise at any speed that I was mentally comfortable with and always be physically comfortable. From bumper to bumper traffic to coasting along the highway at jail-time speeds (until realizing that I wasn’t only 5 to 10 over the limit) in total relaxation, I never felt that the car needed a softer suspension or more sound deadening. It was closer to a S-class than it was to a Viper in that respect. That is until you put your foot in the throttle, of course.
The last thing that any sane, responsible human being would say after driving a M5 for the first time would be: “This car could really use some more power.” Luckily, I’m not sane nor responsible; the M5 I drove was not sane nor responsible either. In fact, it didn’t just have “some more power.” It had 680 horsepower at the rear wheels thanks to some catless downpipes and a tune from BPM Sport along with some lowering springs that gave it a perfect stance. With all the extra power I thought that the car would lose whatever composure it had left, but I was wrong. I took the car through a winding canyon road and chased down exotics with ease and never lost confidence in the car despite seeing the traction light flash a couple of times.
The only real complaint I have about the F10 is the steering. I drove a M6 Gran Coupe a few years ago and had the same complaint about that car. The weight is there, but the feeling is not. I have felt plenty of new cars with uncommunicative front wheels, but at least most cars don’t attempt to hide that behind heavy steering. This can be dangerous at the limit because you feel like you can keep pushing the car faster through corners in confidence, yet you know that when the car is ready to lose grip, it won’t tell you. It’s almost as if you are drinking a glass of scotch that makes you blackout if you drink it too fast, but has the effect of water if you take your time sipping it. The underlying point here is that the glass is excellent when drank at the right pace, if you can figure out what that is.
Video: Driving the 700hp BMW F10 M5
Overall, I think a 700hp BMW F10 M5 works best for the guy/gal with 1 – 2 cars in the garage. If you’re looking for a daily driver and don’t have room or budget for anything else, this is the all-in-one car, the Swiss army knife of sedans. If you have a gas saving commuter and want something fun that you can still haul your friends around in, or maybe you have a weekend coupe that’s dedicated to the canyons/track and you want something that will eat up a commute like no other, then look no further than the F10!
#AlphaLuxeDrives #BPMSport #BMWF10M5