2019 BMW M5 Review

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2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
December 10, 2018

The 2019 BMW M5 sedan is a high-performance luxury car without compromise and few rivals.

The 2019 BMW M5 high-performance sedan gives us all of the feels.

The digital wizardry from the last generation is still there, but this year’s version integrates the human into the experience. It’s a better feeling super sedan on a super budget. For 2019, BMW added an M5 Competition version that bumps power output to 617 horsepower (up from 600 hp in the M5), bigger wheels and a handful of small performance tweaks. The M5 Competition starts at a rich $110,000, give or take, up from the M5’s asking price of more than $103,000.

The M5 rates 7.4 overall on our scale, a high score considering the M5’s superlative performance and luxury and objectively poor value. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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As the pinnacle of the 5-Series range, the 2019 M5 represents the best of its mid-size sedan. The new M5 is sharper than the generation it replaced. Angular bends and larger ducts across the front, sides, rear, and its aluminum hood are typical high-performance fare, but BMW’s typical conservative flair doesn’t let things get out of control.

Unrestrained behavior is the province of its engine. A twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 powers the M5 and M5 Competition. Both spin out 553 pound-feet of torque that comes on early and never feels tapped. The M5 Competition is a fractional tick faster to 60 mph than the M5 (3.1 vs. 3.2 seconds) and both are alarmingly fast.

All-wheel drive was this generation’s mark in M5 history, the first time BMW has let all four wheels claw for grip in the super sedan’s history. Despite the apparent heresy, the M5’s still very much a rear-wheel-drive machine—it’ll even spin up the rears in a hilarious and unnecessary nod to our nostalgia—and the all-wheel-drive system can send all the power to its rear wheels if commanded by the driver. (Spoiler: It’s not any quicker, it’s just there to placate us.)

Five adults won’t have any issue fitting into the M5 and each version is opulently equipped with soft leather and high-quality surfaces around the doors and dash.

For its high price, the M5 isn’t spartan. Base versions of the M5 (if we can call them that) are equipped with 20-way adjustable heated front seats, leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic emergency braking, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility and a wireless smartphone charger. In addition to the power bump, the M5 Competition is equipped with 20-inch wheels but similar creature comforts.

BMW expects that nearly half of M5 buyers will opt for the M5 Competition version and we suggest they don’t stop there. An executive package adds cooled front seats and massagers, four-zone climate control, and soft-close doors.

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2019 BMW M5

Styling

The 2019 M5 is peak BMW: handsome materials, sharper style, but also conservative approach.

The new BMW M5 takes its good start from the newest 5-Series and adds just enough to separate itself from the bunch. It’s a more sinister-looking sedan than the last version, but it doesn’t stray far from BMW’s typical conservative looks.

We call the inside and outside better than average and land at a 7 out of 10 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In many ways, the new M5 borrows liberally from the larger 7-Series sedan. The M5 has larger kidney grilles up front, surrounded by chrome, and large ducts that flank a thick lower chin that feeds the big BMW’s prodigious cooling system.

Along the body sides, the 5-Series is more chiseled and clean. It lacks the flair of some of its predecessors from more than 15 years ago, but the 5-Series has evolved from its rounded recent history.

In back, the 2019 M5 pronounces its performance with quad tailpipes that blat its menacing rumble.

Inside, the 5-Series is more elegant than its predecessor with a luxury blend of leather, soft-touch surfaces, and wood. The M5 is the top of the 5-Series pile—and for six figures, it should be—so there’s no cheap surfaces or poorly grained plastics. Instead, the M5’s pitfall can be a busy interior made busier with darker tones of upholstery that have been quilted, piped, and accented to near-distraction. Some shades look better than others, but we’re not too fond of the browns. Dash materials range from real wood to aluminum, again we’re sold on the cooler tones.

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2019 BMW M5

Performance

The 2019 BMW M5 is predictably incredible on the track and on the road.

Few cars can challenge the blistering performance of the 2019 BMW M5. Those that can probably don’t have four doors and massaging seat backs. We want it all.  

This year, BMW offers an M5 Competition version that adds about $8,000 to the price and 17 hp to the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that already makes 600 hp in the M5. We haven’t yet taken our turns in the M5 Competition, but our rating is based on the already-stunning M5. It’s hard to do better than perfect. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For BMW aficionados, the new M5 is a sea-change from prior generations. This version is all-wheel drive, automatic only, and doesn’t just embrace its digitized attitude—it finally puts it to work for the driver.

The essentials are all there: a potent twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that spins up its turbos almost imperceptibly quick and slingshots the car toward 60 mph in 3.2 seconds (3.1 seconds in the M5 Competition). That’s nearly a second slower than the Tesla Model S performance version, but the M5 is quicker in a quarter-mile. Its usual top speed of 155 mph (Eds note: Is 155 mph ever usual?) bumps to 189 mph with a spend-up package.

An 8-speed automatic handles shifting duties and it’s a dandy; the same 8-speed appears in other BMW cars and it’s nearly telepathic in its gear selection and rapid-fire shifts. Three transmission settings are available to amp up or tone down the drama, depending on mood or commute.

Those transmission settings complement other settings that can change suspension firmness, steering heft, and throttle response. Each offers Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ levels of eagerness and can toggle between all three for customized rides.

Oh, we’re not done.

There are separate controls for exhaust noise and, of course, traction control systems that can dial down the nanny systems to give our driver’s license a workout.

Still not done.

BMW’s all-wheel-drive system in the M5, which was new last year, offers three settings for normal, sport, and rear-drive only (there are a couple criteria for sending power to just the rear wheels) characteristics for the system.

It all adds up to an M5 that asks a lot from drivers, but delivers more.

In several tests, we’ve found that the M5 piles up its speed in ways that are alarming and charming. The speed is savage and the 553 lb-ft of torque nearly instantly arrives shortly after steep stabs at the pedal. But the M5 is also nearly effortless and sedate—it’s not rushed to do anything, it’s too confident. On a track, we heaped on triple-digit speeds without turning the music down. Wonderful.

Those track runs cued us into the M5’s evolution as a performance car: it’s a bona fide heavyweight now. Optional, $8,500 carbon ceramic brakes with 15.7-inch front rotors scrub speed quickly, but the M5’s two-ton dry curb weight is clear. It’s a big and heavy car. BMW’s digital engineering prowess lets loose the leash for 10-15 degrees of yaw before bringing the back end in line. Artificial? Sure, but our smiles are genuine.

Outside of the track, the BMW mitigates its weight well with adaptive dampers that can dial back for comfort.

We’re sure there are more comfortable four-door sedans that are faster than the M5. We just can’t think of any, at the moment. 

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2019 BMW M5

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 M5’s super speed belies its super luxury.

The 2019 M5 is a luxury sedan that outruns other luxury sedans in more ways than one. Despite its performance mission, the M5’s superlative price includes luxury accommodations that are nearly as impressive as its speed.

Base seats are 20-way adjustable, heated, shod in soft leathers, and the cabin is adorned with some of BMW’s best. The M5 gets points above average for its front and rear seats, spacious cargo area, and high-quality finish. The M5 would get a 10 if it were a minivan but we’re glad it’s not. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

BMW doesn’t spare much in its flagship super sedan. All versions are equipped with high-quality, soft leather and wood, carbon, or aluminum trim inside. A few shades of leather cost $5,000 more, but what’s included in the six-figure starting price wouldn’t rub anyone the wrong way.

The base M Sport seats are comfortable and snug, adjustable in 20 different directions for a wide range of body types. In the M5, we’ve ripped around a track or settled in for long highway slogs without sore backs or knees in either situation. An executive package goes even further with available cooling and massage functions that knead our T6 at triple-digit speeds on the track.

In back, the M5 shines in the same way the new 5-Series does: it’s comfortable and spacious. We’ve piled in three adults in the back without issue, with plenty of leg and head room for 95th-percentile, Cracker Barrel adults.

There’s 18.7 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk, enough room for several suitcases or groceries bags to skitter around corners at high speed.

Regardless of seating position, the M5 drips with luxury features and opulent touches.

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2019 BMW M5

Safety

The 2019 BMW M5 lacks official crash-test data.

The 2019 BMW M5 hasn’t been tested by federal or independent safety officials. Given the car’s high price and low numbers, we don’t expect that to change anytime soon. We’re withholding our rating until more official data is available.(Read more about how we rate cars.)

Aside from official crash data, there are good signs. The M5 is equipped with blind-spot monitors, lane departure warnings, a head-up display, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. A spend-up feature adds adaptive cruise control and active lane control that can keep the BMW centered in its lane on highways for up to 30 seconds without driver interaction.

The M5 is based on the 5-Series, which was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS, but federal testers haven’t yet rated those versions.

We’ll update this space if those scores change.

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2019 BMW M5

Features

The 2019 M5 is opulent and quick with beautiful options—none of this is cheap, however.

The 2019 BMW M5 seamlessly melds speed with luxury; it’s an opulent sedan with few rivals.

Its price is similarly rich. The 2019 M5 starts north of $100,000 and doesn’t stop for coffee toward $120,000.

We give the 2019 M5 points above average for exceptional features, customization possibilities, and its infotainment screen. A technicality keeps it from losing one for its smartphone compatibility. It gets an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the super sedan is available in two flavors: M5 and M5 Competition. The “base” car—if there’s a base six-figure car—starts at more than $103,000 and the M5 Competition clocks in at over $110,000. Both are similarly equipped: leather upholstery, 20-way adjustable heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 10.2-inch touchscreen with one year of Apple CarPlay compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB power ports, wireless smartphone charger, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Harman Kardon audio system, and a suite of active safety features that we cover above. M5 versions are equipped with 19-inch wheels as standard, M5 Competition models get 20-inchers.

From there, only a handful of packaged options are available. An active driving assistant can help keep the M5 centered in its lane during stop-and-go traffic and reduce driving fatigue on long trips ($1,700); an executive package adds heated rear seats, four-zone climate control, front seat massagers, and soft-close doors ($4,000). A la carte options can add pricey carbon ceramic brakes ($8,500), upgraded audio ($3,400), and a rear-seat entertainment package ($2,200).

Options for the M5 Competition are identical.

What’s our pick? We’d giddily run a 2019 M5 Competition through the field of options to arrive at more than $125,000 with beaucoup speakers, cooled seats that rub our backs, and driving assistants. Build code “drnp3kz5” if you’re looking for something to get us for the holidays.

BMW infotainment

We’ve been critical of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system for a while now, but the latest version is growing on us. This latest iteration offers a touchscreen in addition to the puck-like dial controller on the center console and puts it to good use. BMW’s iDrive system is deep and complex, but just about every setting from audio to interior color schemes are customizable. It takes a while to get used to, but it’s worth exploring.

Microsoft Office integration can upload calendars and contacts, even read emails. The system’s built-in navigation can send text messages to notify others of your arrival, or make reservations at nearby restaurants.

BMW now offers Apple CarPlay compatibility as standard on the M5 but there’s a catch: the first year is free, other years are $80 each.

So far, BMW is the only automaker to offer wireless CarPlay, which works well with the wireless charger but the smartphone system is less capable than BMW’s system. Additionally, using CarPlay renders roughly one-third of the touchscreen unusable, which is frustrating.

Our advice? Take the free first year as an iDrive apprenticeship to learn BMW’s logic. 

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2019 BMW M5

Fuel Economy

The 2019 BMW M5 can run past just about any luxury sedan on the road, but not past many gas stations.

The 2019 BMW M5 asks a lot for its high performance—not that we think buyers will mind much.

The EPA scolds the twin-turbo V-8 in its ratings. Federal testers rate the M5 at 15 mpg city, 21 highway, 17 combined. That earns a 3 on our fuel-efficiency scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Those ratings apply to the M5 or M5 Competition, and both require premium fuel.

Savage super sedans like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG typically don’t rate any higher than the high teens for combined fuel economy.

We’re still fine with that.

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$102,700
MSRP based on Sedan
 
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 10
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 3
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