The super saloon market remains, as ever, fairly small but fiercely competitive. The German big three still have a huge presence, though perhaps not as dominating as they’ve enjoyed over the years, with changing emissions legislation having shaved away the meat of certain performance brands’ model ranges – and opened the door for others to move in.
In the last few years we’ve seen the return of Alfa Romeo to the segment. The Italian marque’s new Giulia Quadrifoglio is an epic sports saloon, and hopefully a sign of things to come – but it was deposed as our super saloon class champion by the latest BMW M5 in 2018.
As ever, power and performance figures are getting more and more impressive - with some of the cars in this list now churning out in excess of 600bhp. Is horsepower alone enough to grab the top spot, though?
For anyone whose last drive in a four-wheel drive performance car came a decade or so ago, the handling of the BMW M5 will be little short of a revelation. Even after the likes of the Ford Focus RS, Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R, the M5’s agility, balance and playfulness seems remarkable for a car which can also offer all the traction and stability you would expect of a two-tonne, four-wheel drive super saloon. The car’s outright damping authority and body control, meanwhile, are truly unequalled among its direct rivals.
So, considering the titanic leap that the car’s performance has taken, how could we deny it the ringing endorsement of a five-star score? Only because of a handful of irritating shortcomings – slightly irksome steering weight, inconsistent brake pedal feel, that fake engine noise and an occasionally restless ride – which can collude to snap you out of the immersive thrill of driving it.
However, the BMW M5 has a dynamic versatility and poise that no other rival can equal, and it went straight to the top of our super saloon rankings. If BMW M history is any guide, meanwhile (think ‘F10’ M5 ‘30 Jahre’, ‘F82’ M4 CS and others), its very best may be yet to come; although, for our money, the current M5 Competition Package only narrows the car’s appeal slightly by firming up the car’s suspension.