The BMW M5 practically flew off the shelves (or in this case the showrooms) — with the first batch sold out even before its official launch on 11 January.
Despite the hefty half-million-dollar price tag, sales of the M5 have been pretty popular since then, to the extent that all the demo units have been sold too.
With that, I just had to find out for myself what was the reason for the high demand. I also heard that I was the last of the media test drives as the test drive unit was later sold too!
What makes the M5 so special? I know this is not going to help, but the answer is truly felt at the wheel, in the driver's seat.
This is the fifth generation of the high performance sedan from the M division, BMW's performance arm, and houses the most powerful engine ever fitted in its series production model — a twin-turbo V8 that roars a maximum of 560bhp at 6,000 to 7,000rpm and 680Nm at 1,500 to 5,750rpm.
This 4.4-litre monster of a 5 takes 4.4 seconds to get from zero to 100km/h — its standstill acceleration from a stoplight leaves pedestrians wondering what just moved off from in front of them. Unassumingly menacing, the M5 is a lot fiercer than it looks but rest assured its aggression is backed up with high safety levels.
With all that power in your hands and the ability to dash to high speeds quickly, it is equally important that the M5 comes to a standstill just as rapidly. The M5 has Dynamic Stability Control, a traction control system that minimises loss of driver control in critical situations, as well as lightweight high-performance compound brakes which react effectively under varying tropical weather conditions eminent of Singapore — extreme heat or heavy rain.
Last November, I bumped into Maximilian Ahme at the final round of the Singapore Karting Championship. He is the project engineer responsible for the entire development of this BMW M5, who was in Singapore all the way from Germany for a little break. Essentially, this is the man behind this M5 and he shared with me how they covered a total of nearly two million kilometres around the world for its testing. That's a lot of road!
After all that development on racing circuits, the key point is to translate those motorsport-derived technologies into a practical daily-driven car. Delivering output of the M5 is its seven-speed M double clutch transmission (DCT) with Drivelogic — that actually means having two clutches so when in gear, the next highest gear is already in anticipation, allowing the driver to shift gears quickly with the paddle shifters without delay.
The Dynamic Damping Control (DSC) comes with three modes — Comfort, Normal, Sport — and two M Drive buttons now, with individually adjustable car set-ups for different driving situations.
M Drive gives drivers the flexibility to adjust things like the engine management system, the Servotronic steering system, the DCT Drivelogic shift programme and the DSC mode. These can be pre-configured for swift changes on the fly with the two M Drive buttons (M1 and M2) on the steering wheel.
Standard equipment level is high — there's a head-up display so the speed is shown ahead instead of having to look down at the speedometer, night vision aid for better visibility in the dark, cruise control, rain-wiper sensors with automatic headlight activation, automatic start-stop ignition and Park Distance Control — where ultrasound sensors around the car form a visual top-down graphic of the car on the display screen. During actual parking, it felt like a scene out of a video racing game!
Before you start worrying that your petrol bill might hit the roof, you may want to know that while the M5 has increased its power by 10 per cent and torque by more than 30 per cent from before, its fuel efficiency has also gone up by 30 per cent due to its EfficientDynamics technology.
The M5 is apt for performance enthusiasts, satisfying their cravings for speed; at the same time it also fulfils the requirements for a family vehicle with enough space for five comfortable passengers and their accompanying baggage. The men will love it and the women will not be intimidated. Most importantly, the M5 is easy to handle in both dry and wet weather, as well as being obligingly adaptable on empty road and in traffic congestion. Driving performance, check; improved fuel efficiency, check; ease of drivability, check; comfort, check; cheque book?
Technical Specifications — BMW M5
Engine: 4,395cc M TwinPower Turbo V8
Gearbox: 7-speed M double clutch transmission
Max Power: 560bhp at 6,000 to 7,000rpm
Max Torque: 680Nm at 1,500 to 5,750rpm
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.4 secs
Price: S$506,800 with COE
Dealer: Munich Automobiles
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.