After our 2012 550i European Delivery drop-off, I flew down to Seville, Spain, for a couple of days of the M Driving Experience and got to sample the new M5 in the mountains of Andalucia.
It was a great weekend. I arrived Friday. The event took place at the Waldorf Astoria Andalucia, and at the Ascari Race Resort, both fantastic properties with incredible dining.
On Friday I took a tour of Seville with other participants in the afternoon. In the evening there was an unveiling and product introduction of the M5 with some M engineers and marketing people.
Saturday was the main event, starting at 8am we spent 3.5 hours driving the car in the mountains, followed by lunch, and then another 3.5 hours on track at Ascari with both the M5 and M3. The track time was in the rain. We departed at 3:30pm by helicopter, and then caught a flight out of Seville ar 545pm, making it back to London for dinner with Ericka.
I'll share my key thoughts, and then provide you with a photo summary of the trip. What I liked about the F10 M5: Amazing combination of extreme performance, extreme luxury and complete driveability
They truly pulled off a car which is as comfortable to drive as the 550i, but has the immense power, handling and control of a true M car. Even after 3.5 hours in the car in the morning, I was still exhilarated by the performance and handling, but also completely relaxed and comfortable - something that is not the case with other high performance models. The power of the car on the highway is truly devastating.
It is so planted that you can drive full throttle on windy highway stretches. It also has great response, and in normal street driving I found the throttle response to be superb. The overtaking power is really astonishing.
Much of the morning driving in the mountains was on windy single lane country roads, and I felt I could overtake anything, even with oncoming vehicles within sight. In fact a couple of times, I broke the rules and overtook other M5s because some of the participants were a bit slow at clearing traffic on the windy country roads. Music of the Gods.
Many on this forum have been criticizing BMW for the rumors that the speakers are generating the engine noise. I was not able to validate that - the sound seemed to be coming from all the right places, and I could not discern if it came from the speakers. But it sounded real and it sounded like a race car. The music of the M5 engine is the best in-cabin sound I have experienced in any BMW M to-date. Aesthetics.
The car is gorgeous - especially in Monte carlo blue, and also in Mojave. The car offered Merino full leather, and anthracite headliner. The interior trim is fantastic and it is a pleasure to sit in. Everything is covered in leather. The seats are great, although on track I would have wished for adjustable bolsters, on the streets this was not a big deal. Electronic controls
You can customize the suspension, steering, and powertrain between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. All modes proved useful, and I tended to use 2 configurations I found optimal. In the mountains I set suspension and transmission to sport plus and steering to comfort, on the track I set transmission and steering to sport plus and suspension to Sport (which i felt provided the best track handling given the surface). The differences in range of the modes are dramatic. The steering in Sport Plus is astonishing in the degree of feel and control it provides, yet the ability to shift it into comfort at other times makes it the perfect package. Forgiving traction control electronics
. You can really oversteer this car, the traction control does not kick in that quickly. It definitely gives you plenty of room before it kicks in to stop you killing yourself. In fact I didn't realize this and got the car loose in the mountains and was lucky to not to go over the edge of the road - the guys in the M5 behind me thought I was a rally driver or a maniac. What I didn't like Noticeable throttle lag in some situations.
When stuck in traffic, or later in the day on the track when we were stuck begin the pace car, the car wasn't generating enough exhaust to charge the turbos. In this instance we were experiencing a 535 like throttle lag. I didn't notice this when bombing around the mountains, but during the track time we were stuck behind a slow safety car because of the rain, and this became a huge issue. My co-pilot felt the throttle lag was so bad he did not like the M5 (he's an M3 owner). BTW this I think diminishes the enjoyment of the car significantly on the track, and would probably diminish the enjoyment if you are in high traffic situations. I don't have enough time behind the wheel to tell how much of an issue it is, but when it arises it is horrible. Plastic center console and M knob.
Makes the interior look cheap even thought most of it is very high end. Interior of my 550i felt richer overall. It's a heavy car on track.
The fat tires and huge power make this car very driveable on country roads, and I enjoyed the powerslides on the mountain roads. But on the track this car was nowhere near as precise as the M3. Driving the both of those models back to back on the track, I prefered the M3 as a track car, but the M5 as an enthusiast road car. Bottom-line - I would buy it.
If it had been available already I would have probably bought this instead of the 550i. Photo gallery
Apologies for photo quality. I left the Leica in Ericka's bag by mistake and only had the iPhone 4 camera. The Arrival The Unveiling The scenic drive in the mountains/foothills The drive at Ascari The ride home