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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Even when operating through a launch control system that struggled somewhat to put down 553lb ft (multiplied through the car’s lower gears, of course) onto wet tarmac through all four contact patches, the BMW M5 was blisteringly fast.

It recorded a quite staggering standing quarter mile time of 11.5sec on a thoroughly damp surface. In like-for-like conditions, that is 0.1sec quicker than a Mercedes-AMG GT R. It lops more than a second off the preceding M5’s pace and is barely half a second slower than a Ferrari 488 GTB was on a bone-dry day. Through the gears from 40mph to 80mph, the BMW is precisely as fast as the Porsche 911 Turbo S we tested in 2013.

Just half a second slower than a Ferrari 488 GTB and as fast as the Porsche 911 Turbo S we put through its paces in 2013 – not bad for a two-tonne executive saloon.

And it’s a two-tonne executive saloon, remember; a reality for which, it seems, super-saloon customers need no longer make any allowance, or accept any real-world performance compromise. Perhaps the most profound illustration of this car’s versatility is that you wouldn’t know such shattering performance lurked within unless you went looking for it.

Ramping the engine map up to its Sport+ setting yields exhaust crackles and a frenetically responsive throttle pedal, but in Comfort, you’re indulged with a fluency that makes this M5 no more tiresome to pilot along any kind of road than a BMW 520d.

If there’s any disappointment to the M5’s showing here, it’s the relatively muted sound of its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. The howling atmospheric V10 of the E60 M5 casts a long shadow, but even had it never existed, there’s no doubt this engine is lacking in genuine aural charisma, principally because the imitation engine noise played through the car’s stereo speakers remains singularly contrived.

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Also, the brake pedal – on those optional carbon-ceramic brakes, remember – can feel grabby and over-assisted at times, although the problem seems to come and go.

However, neither bugbear puts much of a dent in the appeal of performance as elastic, responsive, free-revving and hard-hitting as this. The way the M5 devours the road ahead of it is breathtaking.