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 seem remarkable for a car that can also offer all the traction and stability you’d expect of a two-tonne, four-wheel-drive super-saloon.

Supreme handling dynamism and versatility take the M5 close to perfection

The car’s outright damping authority and body control, meanwhile, are truly unequalled among its direct rivals. So how could we deny it the ringing endorsement of a five-star score?

Only because of a handful of shortcomings: slightly irksome steering weight, inconsistent brake pedal feel, that synthesised engine noise and an occasionally restless ride. However, the M5 has a dynamic versatility and poise that no other rival can equal, and it goes straight to the top of our super-saloon rankings.

If BMW M history is any guide, (think F10 M5 ‘30 Jahre’, F82 M4 CS and others), the very best version of this M5 may be yet to come – and when it does, it ought to be something very special indeed.

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