ROAD TEST: Jekyll and Hyde BMW M5 breaks all the records

Biggest difference between previous model and this one is addition of M xDrive.

By now most of you should know that one of my main work functions is the road testing of vehicles to see what I believe their every day performance abilities are in South Africa.

For many performance-orientated people, this is important and it’s one of the reasons they buy cars that can do double the national speed limit in no time at all.

For others, this information is not so important. I judge neither, I just do the testing. I don’t do it in favour of any

motor manufacturer, nor do I do it for glory.

Driving cars fast, or at their limit, is no joke, even when done within a dedicated and controlled high-speed test facility.

And I take this task extremely seriously, because when things go wrong at high speed, the consequences and damage to yourself and the vehicle are real, as I have experienced myself, and could even prove to be fatal.

I take what I have to believe is a stock standard car, as supplied by the manufacturer, check that the tyres pressures, fluid levels etcetera are all within the recommended specs, fill the tank with juice, and head off to the renowned

Gerotek test facility to do my thing.

I follow the same test procedure, on the same tracks, using world-wide accepted, benchmark, Racelogic VBOX test equipment to remove as many variables as I can from my result equation.

I can’t control the weather, (but no windy day or rainy day testing happens), just like I can’t control the wear and tear that already exists within the almost brand new test vehicle.

But in my humble opinion, I control as much as I can, and the results are repeatable and as accurate as I can get from that car on that day at that place in that way.

And then I bring this data to you, the reader.

With this in mind, I thought it was important for you to understand some of facts behind what happens when I go and ‘play’ with a high-performance, multimillion-rand car.

Like BMW’s new M5 and return with road-test data that simply blows my mind, while breaking all our test records for a full-sized sedan.


The biggest difference between the previous generation model and this new model is the addition of M xDrive, which means the new M5 is all wheel drive, or 4WD as they call it, and no longer just rear wheel driven.

Now before you accuse BMW of selling their souls to the devil, the M xDrive system allows you massive amounts of grip when you need it most.

And there is a 2WD drive mode, that does allow you to burn expensive rubber and test your guardian angel or medical aid’s sense of humour.

And trust me, go into 2WD mode, and both will need to be on full alert to help you reign in the brutal 441kW of power and 750Nm of torque available from this latest generation 4.4-litre V8 twin turbocharged engine.

But perhaps it’s not the actual power and torque numbers that get the job done, it’s more how they are delivered.

The power is there from 5 600 to 6 700rpm, and that is okay, but the full 750Nm of torque is on tap from barely just off idle at a mere 1800rpm, all the way to 5600rpm.

And that means that no matter what gear you are in, or the situation, the M5 simply charges towards the horizon like nothing in its class has done before when you want it to.

I think the new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic is exceptionally good.

It is as smooth as can be and then it is just as quick in reacting as the old double clutch unit used to be, but minus that rather abrupt jolt you got on the upshift when in a hurry.

What I don’t like, and never have on any car, is the pseudo launch control system that is employed on conventional torque converter clutch type cars like this.

Although a little flag pops up to tell you that you are in launch mode, all you are really doing is holding the car with the brake while building up boost through the accelerator, old school style.

But make no mistake, it does mean that when you let the brake go, the M5 jumps off the line instantly, whereas a double clutch car takes a tiny fraction of a second to release the clutch before getting going.

Doing things as instructed, the M5 blitzed to 100km/h in only 3.34 seconds, the quarter mile (0.4km) in 11.25 seconds at 209km/h (that’s you jailed before you are halfway down the onramp to the highway), the half mile (0.8km) in 17.44 seconds at 255km/h (that is jail with a possibility of parole as you get near the highway), and the 1km sprint in 19.87 seconds at 268km/h (that’s jail with no parole as you get on the highway).

If you like prison food and the nightly loving and entertainment provided by your cell mates, keep it pinned and it only stops, as the result of the optional electronic speed limiter, at a real 308km/h (the standard speed limiter is claimed to be set at 250km/h).

You can try the same launch trick in 2WD mode, and I did, but all that does is leave big black lines down the test strip for a very long time.

Besides that it scares you, while it also seriously affects the car’s sprint times and speeds.

For the record, the run I did try like this ended in a 0-100km/ h time of 4.25 seconds, and a quarter mile of 13.02 seconds at 202km/h.

Like all M models, the BMW M5 was honed on the world’s most challenging race circuit, the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The suspension features M-specific kinematic and elastokinematic elements, and even with M xDrive, the car weighs less than its predecessor.

And it is here, when combined with the extra confidence you now have on the road or the track when trying to put the power down, that the move to 4WD makes the most sense without compromising on the agility you expect from a BMW M car.


Coming in at a standard price of R1 747 700, it could be considered the high-performance bargain sedan of the year.

Road Test Data

Model: BMW M5 (M xDrive)

  • Gearbox: 8 Speed Sports Automatic Transmission
  • Engine: 4.4 litre V8 Twin Turbocharged
  • Power: 441 kW @ 5 600 – 6 700 rpm
  • Torque: 750 Nm @ 1 800 – 5 600 rpm
  • Licensing Mass: 1 810 kg
  • Power to Weight: 243 kW / Tonne
  • Power to Capacity: 100 kW / Litre
  • 0-100 km/h: 3.34 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile (402.34 m): 11.25 Seconds @ 209.96 km/h
  • 1/2 Mile (804.68 m): 17.44 Seconds @ 255.22 km/h
  • 1 Km (1000 m): 19.87 Seconds @ 268.99 km/h
  • 60-100 km/h: 1.82 Seconds (in 3rd Gear) / 2.26 Seconds (in 4th Gear)
  • 80-120 km/h: 2.10 Seconds (in 4th Gear) / 2.99 Seconds (in 5th Gear)
  • 100-200 km/h: 6.92 Seconds (from 3rd Gear)
  • True Top Speed: Limited to 308.87 km/h @ 6 100 rpm in 6th (Clock 310 km/h)
  • Fuel Consumption: 10.5 litres / 100 km Claimed (12.7 litres Test Average)
  • Fuel Tank Size: 68 litres
  • Fuel Range: 648 km Claimed (535km on Test)
  • CO2 Emissions: 241 g/km
  • Vehicle Odometer: 7 368 Km
  • Test Temperature: 4 Degrees
  • Tyres Size: 275/35 R20 Front / 285/35 R20 Rear
  • Tyres Make: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
  • Warranty: 2 Year / Unlimited Km
  • Service / Maint Plan: five-year / 100 000 Km Maintenance Plan
  • Priced From: R1 747 700
  • Test Date: July 19, 2018
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