This new BMW M5 is a towering achievement. On sheer performance, it is the outstanding car in its class. Even more incredible is this 552bhp saloon’s usability, armed with a comfortable chassis set-up, well mannered gearbox and the potential for close to 30mpg at a conservative cruise.
Only those with intimate knowledge of its rivals could find fault. But viewed in that context, there are shortfalls. Although capable of heroics on the track, the M5’s dynamic star quality feels dimmed during more typical use. Everyday driving isn’t suffused with the involvement and fun of a Jag XFR, for example.
There's work to be done by BMW - the cabin should look and feel a little bit more special and the launch control should work every time (and be easier to access). A a set of carbon-ceramic brakes on the options list would get the thumbs-up too.
Power and delicacy are hard to combine in perfect proportion and, for many, this BMW’s compromise will be more than convincing enough. But for us, the new M5 is just a little too cold and characterless to be our class favourite.