This Car is Just Insane

Is BMW’ new M5 India’s most practical supercar?

Written by Shapur Kotwal | New Delhi | Published: July 13, 2012 3:58 am

Is BMW’ new M5 India’s most practical supercar?

BMW’s new M5 is the perfect combination of an outright sportscar and a four-door saloon. Who says you need to compromise on practicality when you have a 552bhp beast under the hood? It’s got four doors,five seats and a properly big boot. And at the same time,it’s the kind of car that you can go Ferrari-hunting in. But can the new M5 live up to its reputation? Is it really India’s most practical and useable supercar?

This new M5 comes from a long line of illustrious predecessors,starting with the E28 M5 of 1985. But it’s the first one to feature fewer cylinders than the one it replaces,and it’s also the first one to feature turbo-charging,the two turbos help this V8 make more power than the V10 it replaces. Additionally,BMW claims that the all-new M5 is also 30 per cent more efficient than the V10.

So what does it take to put together this mad machine? To make an all-new M5,take one standard 5-series,rip out 90 per cent of the parts and replace them with altogether more serious hardware. It’s the M way. So,bare chassis severely stiffened,the work begins. To start off,a 552bhp twin-turbo monster of a V8 is squeezed into the engine bay. And what makes it so potent? The motor uses twin-scroll turbos for serious amounts of thump,cross-flow exhaust manifolds to smoothen out the delivery of turbo boost,direct injection for a roughly 40 per cent increase in torque,throttle-less Valvetronic for improved efficiency,a dry-sump oil system for improved flow under high g’s and a seven-speed,twin-clutch gearbox especially engineered (not just tuned) for sporty performance.

Then in goes a hydraulic steering system,new lighter aluminium arms for the double-wishbone front suspension,a new rear axle with an active differential,and a rear sub-frame that’s rigidly bolted to the body (no soft,comfort-oriented bushes used here). Appropriate wheels and rubber are added on,massive six-piston,fixed-caliper discs are used at the front,and there are some new bits on the outside as well.

We’re at the Buddh circuit in Greater Noida and it’s time to drive. As soon as I get in,I select the sportiest setting and hit the starter. The motor fires with a subdued,open-mouthed growl that gets hard-edged as I rev it. And things get off to a good start once we get moving. There’s just so much power and torque from this twin-turbo motor even at 3,500rpm. I occasionally whack open the throttle and hold on to it till we hit the 7,200rpm redline,and it’s then that the beast really comes alive. The turbos puff hard to give this car massive mid-range punch and the gearbox is so quick,it makes hard acceleration feel like one long,breathless charge at the horizon.

The ease with which it skips past 200kph on the long back straight is simply uncanny. To put things in perspective,BMW claims a 0-100 time of 4.4sec and a de-restricted top speed of 305kph. Making a near-two-tonne car sprint to 100kph in under 5.0sec is quite a feat. Making all that power easy to manage is even more impressive. The most astonishing aspect of the M5 is how civilised the ride is — at times,it even rides better than a regular 5-series. Yet there’s a bit of yearning that creeps in. I yearn for more feel and feedback from the slightly inert steering.

Then,as I get to spend more time on the track alone,I manage to up the pace even more. The lines get neater,braking points get more precise and I naturally begin to use more of the M5’s inherent grip. And it’s only then that I can scratch away that layer of inertness and get to the really good stuff. Once fully loaded up,the car comes alive. The M Differential allows you quite some degree of slip before it intervenes,the steering remains obedient and the M5 talents,otherwise hidden deep within,start to show.

The new M5’s got everything you would expect of a super saloon – insane performance,engaging handling,and a properly comfortable cabin. That the new M5 raises the bar even further there is little doubt; this clearly is an incredible car that has a breathtakingly wide set of talents. And at Rs 98.9 lakh,it may seem expensive,but you have to take into account that its direct rivals cost even more. For this price,there’s little that can match the M5’s wide range of talents.n

The writer is deputy editor, Autocar India

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