F90 M5 Track and Road Review - BIMMERPOST - BMWForum.gr

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31-05-18, 09:55   #1
Το avatar του χρήστη angelm3
Εγγραφή: 08-06-2011
Ηλικία: 47
Μηνύματα: 5.365

Drives: E92 M3
F90 M5 Track and Road Review - BIMMERPOST

BIMMERPOST has returned from Palm Springs where I sampled the new 2018 BMW M5 on both the street and the track. I spent the day driving on back roads surrounding The Thermal Club followed by guided track sessions at the facility. I had ample time to soak in the M5 and evaluate its breadth of abilities.

I was cruising along on a deserted stretch of back road around Palm Springs, California when I experienced the M5's full 600 horsepower for the first time. The road was straight as an arrow and there was nothing around me except miles of desert. I thumbed the M5 into M1 driving mode using the button on the steering wheel. M1 had my Sport Plus preset for power, suspension and transmission. I pulled twice on the left paddle, saw the revs rise to a satisfying 3500 rpm or so and then I buried the throttle.

The first sensation wasn't really acceleration but of my body being thrown back and then immediately caught by the sport seat. That the seat was so soft was actually a good thing because it felt like falling into a pillow. A split second later my eyes caught up and registered the unusual sensation of scenery blurring in my periphery and the horizon rapidly reeling in. This was the world on fast forward. As the velocity ramped up and the thrust continued, I couldn't help but let out a silly laugh.

I reached a pretty serious clip before I decided to let off. The M5's thrust had not abated and the risk versus reward ratio was rapidly slipping away. However, it didn't mean I couldn't slow down and do it again. So I did. Again and again I ran the M5 up and down the desert flats around Palm Springs, my body thrown hard by its warp-drive acceleration and then gently caught by its soft baseball glove of a seat. I was addicted.

I was grateful for the M5's bright and legible heads-up display because this was the kind of acceleration that demanded my full attention. If I had to look down, refocus my eyes, read the instruments and look up again, I would have covered a lot of distance with my eyes off the road. With pace like this, the HUD made a lot of sense.

As with previous M5s, its greatest initial charm is giving the driver access to outrageous performance without any notion of sacrifice or discomfort. That sensation of the scenery blurring and distance being distorted was a feeling I knew well from riding sport bikes but in the M5, I didn’t have to squeeze into leathers or put on a helmet. There was no yoga to perform to get into its seats. You slide in, buckle up, mash the loud pedal and in 6.6 seconds you’ve breached the 100mph barrier while being cocooned by supple leather and modern comforts worthy of a smart-home. The M5 is once again, the world’s fastest living room couch.

The difference compared to the previous M5 is not only in performance. Yes, it is way faster and its dynamics superior. That much you could have figured out from reading the press release. However, what’s most astonishing about the new M5 is how engaging it was to drive. It’s as if BMW M’s engineers are slowly but surely reverting to the way they used to do things, with steering that talks back to the driver and a chassis that communicates and flatters while they continue to chase gains on paper. They have fully returned the human driver to the equation.

The M5’s sound was a positive part of the experience. I had almost forgotten how much I adore the sound of BMW V8s. With a bass-y undertone punctuated by subtle hints of mechanical chatter, the M5’s engine and exhaust ejected a glorious, deep-chested rumble as I ripped through the gears. Yes, it could have been louder still and sure, the in-cabin soundtrack was partially synthesized but as they say in HBO’s Westworld: “If you can’t tell the difference, does it matter?”

A couple of minor blemishes spoiled my otherwise flawless street driving experience and both had to do with footwork. Firstly, the M5’s ceramic brakes felt extremely sensitive at the top of its brake pedal travel, which caused me to dive its nose somewhat abruptly at the entry of each corner. Having a sensitive initial travel is fine so long as the pedal’s resistance is proportionately firm. The M5’s brake pedal was not. A somewhat soft pedal combined with a sensitive response meant it took some time to settle my braking inputs before I could brake smoothly into corners. At the track, with greater braking forces and more determined braking I felt no such distraction and the M5’s brakes felt firm and worked flawlessly. On the street, you’ll take some time to get used to it.

Secondly, I did not like the way the accelerator pedal had a stop of increased resistance right at the end of its travel. This was the ‘kick down detent’ typically used in conventional automatics to force a down change. The electronics were plenty sophisticated enough to know when I needed a down change without resorting to the detent. So why has BMW kept this anachronism around? It was especially annoying at the track when I wanted fine throttle control near max throttle so I started to ignore it altogether and drove just shy of it. Did that mean I only ever got about 95% of max throttle? Perhaps. But without the detent, I would never have had to ask this question.

Speaking of down changes, BMW has forgone both the manual transmission as well as the automated dual-clutch DCT in favor of a conventional automatic for the M5. I was initially disappointed but after a day of driving, I stopped caring one way or another. In practice the new gearbox felt just as swift as any of the recent BMW M DCTs including those in the M2 and the M3. That is to say, not the absolute fastest gear changes in the industry, but perfectly quick enough to be satisfying. However, the M5’s automatic is actually lighter than the outgoing DCT, which no doubt contributes to the new car being lighter than the old one. This is doubly impressive because the new car carries all-wheel-drive hardware, a first for the M5.

Still, the M5 felt occasionally heavy. Not all of the time, because it hid its weight from me very well. With its sophisticated active dampers and a quick steering ratio, it felt surprisingly nimble and tossable in all of my street driving. The one situation where I was persistently reminded of its weight was under heavy braking, the kind I experienced repeatedly during my afternoon session at the track. The M5 stopped faithfully each and every time and I did not feel any overt signs of brake fade, but there was no denying the sensation of having a ton of momentum – over two tons, in fact – to overcome. I hopped into the Mini Cooper JCW immediately after my laps in the M5 and the Mini’s braking and direction changes were a revelation.

One area where the M5 excelled, above and beyond even the M3 and the M2, was in compliance. Not just compliance as in comfort, but compliance as in immutable stability. Think about jumping over rumble strips, mid corner, fully loaded and on the power. I did this once or twice at Thermal Driving Club and the M5 simply shrugged. I did something similar in the M2 with M Performance Parts at COTA last year, and the entire car slid a foot off line as a result. The M5, on the other hand, ate rumble strips for breakfast and held its line steadfast. It was astonishingly supple and forgiving. Brilliant.

I was also fascinated by the M5’s all-wheel-drive system. Its AWD mode comes in two flavors: AWD and AWD Sport. It can also be disabled altogether to revert to rear-wheel-drive. In AWD Sport mode, the system sends more power to the rear wheels to feel more rear-biased. On the street, both AWD modes were utterly transparent and were free from corruptions of the steering or chassis. There were no obvious giveaways that I was in an AWD car, other than the M5 being very grippy and stable at all times. At street pace, in the dry, you could drive pretty hard and not realize that the M5 wasn’t a rear-driver.

On the track, the AWD system made its presence more overt. BMW recommended pairing AWD Sport with MDM mode on the stability control, which is the halfway house between fully assisted and nothing at all. For the most part, this MDM mode worked well and was unobtrusive. Where the AWD interactions became obvious was when I hoofed on the throttle mid-corner. The rear tires did indeed break away first, but the corrective action differed from a true rear-driver. If I eased off the throttle as the slide began and steered into the slide to settle the car before getting back on the throttle to ‘ride the slide out’ like I would in an RWD machine, there would be an abrupt transition back into grip and I would spear off in the direction of the corrective steering. What the AWD M5 preferred was for me to maintain constant steering and throttle angle while it shunted power forward and sorted the slide out on its own. It didn’t require much from me and felt intuitive once I agreed to work with it. BMW said AWD Sport was also the quickest way around. Still, MDM mode was not conductive to aggressive corner exits because it did not allow too much rear slip angle. Whenever I tried to ‘ride the slide out’, I was restricted to reduced forward motion until rear slip had been curtailed. If you like being aggressive, you have to switch the DSC off. Better yet, try the M5 in rear-wheel-drive mode.

To get into RWD mode, you have to first turn DSC off. You cannot use rear-wheel-drive otherwise. The easiest way to do this is to hit the ‘setup’ button on the console and edit one of the M1 or M2 presets. Having DSC off to access rear-wheel-drive seemed like a novelty mode at first because it sounded like a ‘drift mode’. However, it is actually more like a legacy mode, where you get to enjoy all the best of the new M5 but as if it were an old school M5. When I put the M5 into rear-wheel-drive, it became more natural to steer with the throttle and I was freed from the mid-corner intrusion of AWD. I was able to ride out the corner exits to my heart’s content, with forward motion and rear slip in equal measure. It was unadulterated driving fun in a simpler, purer machine. Just like the M5s of old. It may not have been the fastest way around, but I savored every moment of the experience.

In sum, the M5 remains the transporter of the M lineup. Fast, stylish, compliant, a veritable rocket ship when you want it to be but a perfect limousine for everything else. There is ample technology but also enough layers of analogue experience for the keen driver to explore. The option of rear-wheel-drive feels polished and fully developed, like it could be driven everywhere like that. I love that BMW gives the driver a choice. It is addictively fast, impressively compliant and a masterpiece of engineering for the human in an electronic age. BMW has not forgotten its roots. Bravo!

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Bimmerpost, bmw, BMW //M, bmw //m supercar, bmw m5 2018, BMW M5 all-wheel drive, bmwforum.gr

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