2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Introduction
Perhaps the most coveted model from one of the world’s most coveted brands, the genre-defying BMW M5 has been the benchmark high performance sports sedan since it was introduced in 1980, as the BMW M535i. (The first BMW to be designated simply “M5” was offered in 1988.)
Having evolved over four subsequent generations, the fifth generation 2013 BMW M5 was introduced in September of 2011 at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The car’s North American debut came a couple of months later at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November of 2011.
Combining the carrying capacity of a mid-size sedan with the performance attributes of a sports car, the BMW M5 virtually invented the high-performance luxury sports sedan category it rules to this day.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Models and Prices
Itself a model within the BMW 5 Series lineup (the top 5 Series model actually), the M5 is offered in one state of trim, with two option packages.
The 2013 BMW M5’s $5,500 Executive package adds a heated steering wheel, ventilated and massaging functionality for the front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, a power-operated trunk lid, soft-close doors, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side window shades, a head-up display, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio and smartphone app integration.
The Driver Assistance package ($1,900) adds speed limit information, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, along with side- and top-view cameras.
BTW, if you get the M5’s Driver Assistance Package, you’ll automatically get the Executive Package. However, you can order the Executive Package without getting the Driver Assistance Package.
If you want to individualize your M5 even more, you can fit 20-inch wheels ($1,300), and a $2,200 rear-seat entertainment system (though frankly, being as much of a driver’s car as the M5 is, choosing that one is a bit questionable in our opinion). However, the optional 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system is definitely a positive (though a bit on the pricey side at $3,700. BMW’s night vision camera system with pedestrian detection will cost you an additional $2,600.
The base pricing for the 2013 BMW M5 starts at $91,095 (including destination charges).
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Design
The already handsome 5 Series BMW’s body is enhanced for M5 duty with functional changes. In other words, pretty much everything you see on the M5 that is different from a standard 5 Series car is there to make the M5 go faster. Taken all together, the changes are both subtle and tasteful, while simultaneously enhancing the performance potential of BMW’s halo performance model.
The wider spread of the slats in the traditional kidney grilles admits more air, so too do the three slats in the lower section of the front apron. The flared wheel arches accommodate the wider track and the larger tire and wheel set of the M5.
The rear fascia of the 2013 BMW M5 incorporates a diffuser to let air flow smoothly from beneath the car and reduce drag. A subtle tail spoiler is fitted to the trunk lid to provide downforce over the rear wheels to improve traction at high speeds. The dual twin pipe exhaust system provides for a less restrictive flow of exhaust gases, and is framed by aerodynamic surrounds.
However, if you'd like your M5 to be more discreet, you can order it with the badging deleted, as well as without the rear spoiler.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Comfort And Cargo
Like all BMW models, the interior’s driver orientation is unapologetic. The 10.2-inch video monitor control display, as well as all of the features on the center console, are canted toward the driver, just as they have been in every BMW model since the original 5 Series sedan was introduced in 1972.
The performance orientation of the interior is readily evident. However, it is rendered in pure luxury. The basic 5 Series is already a comfortably spacious sedan – the M5 amplifies that feeling with fine leather upholstery, an available Alcantara headliner, customized sports seats, and a suitably meaty steering wheel. These features give the M5 the feel of a sports car laced with the aura of luxury one expects when spending north of 100 grand for an automobile.
Seating is comfortable at all four positions. Both the driver and the front passenger are treated to 16-way power adjustable seats with heating. Rear passengers get individually adjustable climate control. And yes, the usual array of storage bins and cupholders is evident.
Further, the 14 cubic foot capacity of the M5’s trunk is enhanced by a split folding rear seatback, which permits the rear passenger compartment to handle cargo should the need arise. There is also a pass-through to accommodate the transport of skis and other long items without ruining the M5’s aerodynamics.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Features And Controls
Like the previous version of the ultimate BMW sports sedan, the 2013 M5 offers the driver the ability to tailor its key controls to taste. Steering effort, transmission shift speed (with the sequential gearbox), throttle response, suspension damping, stability control, and the head-up display are all adjustable.
When you find two settings you like; say, one for driving hard and another for cruising, you can store and recall them at the touch of one of the two “M” buttons on the steering wheel.
All of this adjustability owes to the fact each of those individual components is capable of being independently programmed to respond to a particular driver’s tastes and preferences. The suspension system for example uses BMW’s Dynamic Damper Control, which relies upon electro-hydraulics to vary the stiffness of the shock absorbers.
The Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering system varies steering effort over three steps; comfort, sport and sport plus. With each successive step, the steering effort firms up and adapts more acutely to the speed of the car.
Similarly, the Dynamic Stability Control system has three settings. “DSC on” provides the most immediate intercession of the stability and traction control systems. Setting it to the M-Dynamic Mode, keeps the system active in case things go too far afield, but leaves the driver room to drift the car and corner with a bit more verve. DSC off leaves most everything related to traction and stability in the hands of the driver.
We say “most” because the M5’s Active M Differential takes the concept of a limited-slip rear differential to its next logical conclusion. Communicating with the stability control system in the car, the differential can pre-determine how much lock to apply to ensure optimal acceleration and cornering. It considers the position of the accelerator pedal, the rotational speed of the wheels, and the car’s yaw rate to determine the degree of lock to apply to limit wheel spin, regardless of the nature of the road’s surface.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Safety And Ratings
The new BMW M5 includes front and side airbags, side curtain head airbags for both rows of seats, three-point inertial reel seat belts on all seats, front belt force limiters, seat belt tensioners, and ISOFIX child seat attachments in the rear — all as standard equipment.
The 2013 BMW M5 also features BMW’s Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that includes Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Assistant, brake fade compensation, a Brake Drying function and Start-off Assistant.
Other key safety features include; airbag deployment notification, variable intermittent rain sensing windshield wipers, stolen vehicle tracking assistance, emergency roadside assistance, a remote antitheft alarm system, an engine immobilizer, night vision with pedestrian detection, and a post collision safety system. If it hits something hard enough to deploy an airbag the M5 will phone home, so to speak. The car will automatically alert BMWs crash response center.
While the M5 hasn’t been specifically crash tested, the 5 Series car upon which it is based has. That model earned five stars from NHTSA for overall performance, four out of five stars for front-impacts, and five stars for side-impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2013 BMW 5 Series "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact, and roof-strength crash tests.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
For this current model (internally referred to as F10), BMW has moved away from normally aspirated high revving engines like the Formula One inspired 500-horsepower V10 from the fourth generation E63 BMW M5. Turbocharging and direct fuel injection have taken over at BMW (like at most other manufacturers) so this new M5 uses a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 producing 560 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of torque, the most powerful engine ever fitted to a production BMW model. By the way, those 500 ft-lbs of torque are available at 1,500 rpm, which basically means instantaneously.
BMW claims 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds and 0 to 125 in 13.1 seconds.
Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual, which is becoming more and more of an anachronism—and an outstanding seven-speed automated dual clutch sequential manual gearbox, which BMW refers to as the M-DCT (M-dual clutch transmission). We have driven with both and without question, the car felt more alive with the M-DCT. The six-speed manual’s throws were long, the gearbox felt vague, and frankly, we were left asking what’s the point of depressing a clutch pedal anymore?
Yes, manual transmissions are traditionally preferred over automatic transmissions in performance cars. And, truth be told, automatic transmissions used to be inferior when it came to the demands of performance-oriented driving. Clinging to them more out of nostalgia than any sound reasoning these days, many “driving enthusiasts” still claim the manual transmission makes them feel more in control of the car.
Well, that’s changed y’all—get over it.
The M-DCT shifts faster, more accurately, blips the throttle to match revs on downshifts, permits considerably finer control over the engine’s torque output, and is just plain better in every way. It's always in exactly the right gear for any given situation and the M-DCT offers smooth automatic operation when driving around town or mired in traffic jams.
It really is the best of all worlds.
But that’s enough about transmissions.
Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 14 miles per gallon in the city, 20 on the highway, and 16 combined.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Driving Impressions
The 2013 BMW M5 is considerably more refined than the car it replaces—in every way.
While many might decry this as the BMW M5 losing its edge, we like the fact it is faster, handles better, is still capable of inhaling long stretches of road (whether straight or serpentine) in very short amounts of time, and yet uses less fuel than the car it replaces. Long story short, this new M5 is better in every performance parameter—while being simultaneously more cultivated.
However, some may find this disconcerting.
If you’re the sort of driver who only feels connected when your car demands you put up with a harsh ride, a howling exhaust system and copious amounts of road noise, the 2013 BMW M5 might come across as a bit soft to you. On the other hand, if you’re a sophisticated driver who enjoys a truly fast and responsive automobile, but also appreciates the fact the car will drop away and become unobtrusive when you’re going about your day to day mundanities, you’ll covet this M5 just as much as every iteration of the BMW that came before it.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Final Thoughts
In a word, this is the most sophisticated BMW M5 ever offered. Delivering all of the performance you expect from a sedan with the red, violet and blue M badge affixed to its rump, the 2013 M5 simultaneously serves up comfort and fluidity approaching the levels of BMW’s flagship 7 Series cars.
To our way of thinking, that is far more of an accomplishment than building the highest performing car you can get away with—noise vibration and harshness be damned. Then, once you’ve done that, harnessing your PR team with the task of convincing buyers these sacrifices are needed—even desired—as some sort of a badge of honor, or a claim of “keeping it real”.
Trust us y’all, “keeping it real” can be overrated.
Bottom line, BMW has raised the bar yet again. The 2013 BMW M5 represents nothing less than the reinvention of what an ultra high performance sports sedan is supposed to be all about.
And, we like it.
2013 BMW M5 Road Test And Review: Pros And Cons
• Outstanding performance
• Strong cachet
• Strong feature set
• Good fuel economy for its capabilities
• Price ratchets up quickly if you start in on the options list