We knew the BMW M5 would have a great deal of performance. We just weren’t quite prepared for the incredible reality of its accelerative potential. Or for the fact that, on another day, it might have been faster still.
The new M5 isn’t an easy car to get away from a standstill with optimum thrust. If you’re too aggressive with the throttle, you’ll activate the DSC stability control and lose a lot of momentum. If you turn the DSC off completely, it’s equally easy to spin almost all of the engine’s power away. And with 502lb ft coursing through them, once those rear tyres lose their hold on the road, it takes more than a feather of the accelerator before they’ll bite again.
If you’re a little more gentle with this two-tonne four-door off the line – using about 80 per cent of throttle in first gear and then short-shifting into second, where you can flatten the right-hand pedal – it’ll hook up and surge forward with quite staggering force.
As part of our two-way standing start test, on a slightly damp day, the M5 recorded an average 4.3sec sprint to 60mph, and 100mph came up in 9.0sec dead, which is more than a second sooner than it did in the Jaguar XFR we tested in 2009, and almost a second quicker than Mercedes’ current CLS63 AMG. And that was all without the help of BMW M’s launch control system – which, despite repeated efforts, simply refused to engage under test conditions.
It’s fast, then – prodigiously so. And the seven-speed, dual-clutch M DCT transmission is the M5’s next greatest success story. It endows the car with relaxed usability to match its superb at-pace precision. It will remain in auto mode whichever of the powertrain presets you choose, but nudge one of the standard wheel-mounted paddles and it will shift to manual, in which state it will hold its gears as expected and swap ratios on command with impressive response and precision.
Also, there’s a low-speed assistance mode via which you can make the M5 creep at ideal manoeuvring speed with a quick stab of the accelerator. This will make this M5 significantly easier to live with (read, park) than the last.