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DEFINING A SPORTS SEDAN

BMW’s M5 Competition model is great four door entertainment.

It must seem to some readers that a midsize sedan that’s competitive on a racetrack is just a bit incongruous. Wouldn’t a sportscar or a two-door coupe be a better choice? In BMW’s case, the answer is an emphatic not necessarily. And that’s from an automaker that offers an entire catalog of eleven (at last count) “M” branded performance vehicles from 3-series to the X6M sports activity vehicle.

Powerful Statement

In 1985, three years after BMW launched its first 5-Series sedan, the Bavarian company thrilled performance enthusiasts with the M5. In essence, the sedan behind the badge was pretty much the hand built, Motorsports-designed racecar with the big rear spoiler removed and otherwise made street legal. While the 286HP and 6.2-second romp to 60 MPH seem modest by today’s standards, believe me, it was very competitive back then.

BMW continued to up the performance fun in each new 5-Series offerings, moving to a 5-liter, 400HP V8 in 1998’s E39 edition, but it was the 2005 model year M5 (E60 in BMW lexicon) with its 500HP V10 that consumed my attention. It was so race inspired, that normal driving without clunky gearshifts became a developed technique. But with some room to run, just dial up the M program, paddle shift at 8,000 RPM and laugh out loud. What a hoot! And today’s M5 is even more powerful and amusing, without making you and other occupants feel as if Driver’s Ed is required in normal traffic.

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Fine Tuning

Our Voodoo Blue test subject, even with its generous air intakes, black chrome and 20-inch M wheels, didn’t shout for attention. But if recognition is desired, the four-pipe exhaust can be changed from low rumble to something far less subtle with a flick of a switch. One could also change the Bowers and Wilkins sound system from classic to hip hop and flip the cap bill backwards to complete the presentation. Or just find a nice winding road with little traffic and enjoy the balance of power, late braking and lively corner exits.

The inner beauty of today’s M5 is the balance of set-your-hair afire performance when you wish it, or a reasonably quiet, comfortable sedan for family journeys. I’ve driven the current M3 on public roads and racetracks and it’s pretty hard to beat, but there’s still nothing more rewarding than the M5’s 617HP twin-turbo V8 distributing its power to all four wheels.

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The EV Zoom Option

Since we’ll all be driving electric vehicles soon, according to politicians and pundits, why not just go for a Tesla Plaid or LUCID Air Dream edition? A reasonable question and if 0-to-60 acceleration is the only spec that matters, both might just nose out our quite quick 3.1-second M5. For that matter, BMW’s new i4 M50 will quietly leap to 60 in just 3.7-seconds and its MSRP starts at just $65,900. But if you take the competition to the track, the M5 will prevail. And for many enthusiasts, it also sounds like a winner.

THE FINE PRINT

2022 BMW M5

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  4.4-liter Twin Turbo V8

HORSEPOWER:  617 @ 6,00 RPM

TORQUE:  553 lb.ft. @ 1,800 RPM

BASE PRICE: $103,500

AS TESTED:  $141,045

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  15-city, 21-highway, 17-combined