BMW M5 — The pinnacle of sports sedans

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Being behind the wheel of the 2019 BMW M5 Competition had us in awe of its massive performance. It was a never-ending source of brute force with driving and handling proficiency in spades. The M5 is the ultimate companion for someone who is addicted to power, but needs comfortable room for four adults, a suitable commuter car, and a long-haul vacation vehicle.

There are two flavors of the M5 — the standard edition with a twin-turbocharged V-8 making 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The Competition squeezes 17 additional horsepower out of the V-8. Based on measured times by a major automotive magazine, the Competition is no faster than the regular M5, but gets numerous handling bits and pieces including a stiffer antiroll bar and more negative camber for slightly sharper handing.

Both editions come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a special all-wheel drive system for better off-the-line engagement, although for those who like to burn rubber off the rear tires, there's a rear-wheel-drive-only mode. Unfortunately a manual transmission is not available.

The price difference of the two sedans is a bit over $7,000. The base sedan starts at $104,695 including a $1,000 gas guzzler tax, and the Competition edition starts at $111,995.

Either way, the performance is breathtaking. We hadn't been behind the wheel for more than a couple miles when we reached a short on-ramp to a 70 mph freeway. Slamming the accelerator to the floor, we were hurtling off the ramp into traffic at more than 100 mph. Holy Cow! Once we learned the parameters of the M5 it was a joy to drive, although it took great restraint at times to keep from putting the hammer down.

Here's what you have in the over-the-top sedan — 0-to-60 in 3 seconds, and if you take it farther, a quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 129 mph. Our computer research found the chip-regulated top speed maxes out just north of 160 mph — we didn't have anywhere to prove that number.

On our back-road blacktop "test track" we found the M5 Competition to be just as skilled at handling and cornering as it is at going fast. The mid-sized sedan displayed over-the-top cornering grip, as good as the handful of six-figure sports cars we've tested over the past 24 months, and with lively and direct steering. Once you've satiated your desire to get a bit crazy, hit Comfort mode and the M5 cruises like a proper touring car with a noteworthy quiet interior.

There's a dizzying number of system settings with three modes each for the throttle, suspension and transmission. And for good measure, the Competition also gets a switchable sport exhaust that, in its louder setting, adds more bass and crackle to the regular M5's already muscular soundtrack.

BMW has not short-changed the M5 in the area of driver-assistance features with such standard equipment as lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

Inside the fit and finish is what you'd expect in a 100 grand car, with quality materials. The cabin is open and airy and we found the aggressively bolstered front seats surprisingly comfortable with adjustable seatback bolsters. Normally, we aren't fans of aggressive bolstering, but the M5 turned out to be the exception.

BMW has come many miles from its first iDrive system back near the turn of the century. The latest iDrive technology is easy to read and operate with intuitive menus. Apple CarPlay users will be delighted with the wireless implementation, but AndroidAuto is unavailable.

Unlike many sports sedans, there is ample storage up front with bins and pockets to hold personal items and a wireless charging pad. The door pockets are deep and include a bottle holder. The trunk holds an ample 19 cubic feet of cargo

While the M5 and M5 Competition both top 100 grand, there are still numerous desirable options available to empty your wallet. For instance, our test car with a base price of $111,995 including gas guzzler tax and destination charge, carried a bottom line of $132,095. The most expensive option was a $4,000 Executive Package that includes soft close doors, power rear sunshade, four-zone climate control, front massaging seats, active park distance control, and surround and 3D view. An option we very much enjoyed and should be considered by all audiophiles is the 16-speaker, 1,400-watt, 10 channel Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System for $3,400.

The M5 comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and drivetrain warranty. There's also 3-years or 36,000-miles of free maintenance.

Base price: $104,695; as driven, $132,095
Engine: twin turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8
Horsepower: 617 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 553 foot-pounds @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 117.4 inches
Length: 195.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,370 pounds
Turning circle: 41.3 feet
Luggage capacity: 19 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 20.1 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 14 city, 21 highway, 17 combined
0-60: 3.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Tesla Model S, Cadillac CTS-V, Porsche Panamera Turbo

The Good
• Extremely powerful V-8
• Exceptional handling
• Quiet comfort available
• All-wheel drive stability

The Bad
• Daunting number of configurations

The Ugly
• AndroidAuto unavailable