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 Leisure

The New BMW M5

26th May, 2018

By ASWAN YAP

There are many great sports sedans in the world, but perhaps the first – the original – would be the BMW M5. It was a car born partially out of necessity and partially out of curiosity, as legends would have it that the first M5 was built because the 535i at the time wasn’t quick enough for bodyguards to keep up with those they were supposed to protect!

Regardless of whether you choose to believe that story, the M5 has become an iconic model within the BMW range, even though there are quicker, sportier, and sleeker cars among the offerings. It is, and always has been, a combination of class and performance, of speed and subtlety, with each generation just that little bit better than the last.

This latest generation is both true to tradition and also breaks from it which, in itself, has caused uproar among BMW fans. That being said, with the way engines and cars are going, it’s only a natural progression. Each generation of M5 from the E60 onwards has introduced something new and unusual to the mix, and it is this that keeps BMW’s products exciting.

We’re no strangers to the platform on which the M5 sits. It’s known as the ‘CLAR’ (derived from the words ‘CLuster ARchitecture’) platform and it has underpinned various rear-wheel drive BMW models since the current 7-Series.

The new, highly flexible platform provides great handling dynamics without compromising ride quality. It’s high praise, but it is very much well deserved.

At its heart, the twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 is tuned to produce a little more power at 600 ps with 750 Nm of torque. While this was an engine that was introduced with an earlier generation of the M5, it has carried forward and can still meet emissions and efficiency regulation that have become ever more stringent.

What this new M5 brings which is of great significance is the xDrive all-wheel drive system. It’s a first for the M5 although it would be wrong to say it is the first M car with all-wheel drive as both the X5M and X6M also have xDrive.

Even so, it is this idea that makes it difficult for fans of the brand to accept this latest M5. Knowing this would happen, BMW also made sure to include a rear-wheel drive mode for the car, similar to the Mercedes-AMG E63 4MATIC+ in order to maintain versatility.

While it’s a novel idea to go into rear-wheel drive mode for the fun factor, the reality is that most owners are unlikely to use rear-wheel drive mode in any reasonable situation.

Also new to this M5 is the 8-speed automatic gearbox. Unlike its predecessor which had a dual-clutch unit, the generation of M5 uses a conventional automatic design for shifts that are quick and operations that can make it wear a great deal loss in the long term. For the purists, it’s a difficult pill to swallow but it is one that is better for both BMW as a company and its fans and owners.

Perhaps one thing to note is that despite the M cars being the pinnacles of BMW’s models, they don’t often come with many aesthetic touches that make them immediately noticeable. For example, the 530i is provided with an M-Sport body kit as standard when sold in Malaysia. This alone makes it a little less easy to identify the M5’s defining features.

Beyond this, the bulging fenders and larger rims over larger brakes provide an instant assurance that this car means business. The front grille is just a tad sportier than before but again, it isn’t surprising given BMW’s habit of diluting the brand.

As for the interior, this is where the idea that BMW doesn’t particularly pull out the stops for making a special interior. While the steering wheel and the shift lever are both different and far more futuristic, the rest of the interior is fairly par for the course.

Again, however, both Audi and Mercedes-AMG aren’t exactly pushing for radical interior design either, which means that the M5 isn’t necessarily lacking in this respect. Even at its worst, the M5’s interior is as good as any other BMW.

The all-new M5 goes on sale in June for just over RM900,000. Of course, the final price depends on options (and you won’t have to pay GST) and your insurance premium but the fact remains that the M5 is not a proposition to take lightly. For those who can afford it, it’s poised to be a great car whether you’re behind the wheel or sitting in the back seat – a car that will be remembered for generations to come – even if it may not be so appealing to the purists now.

   
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