Nothing says BMW like the M5. Sure, the M3 is the enthusiast choice, but match prestige with driving preciousness and luxury appointments, and the M5 stands on a pedestal all its own. But there was a gap when other cars overtook the BMW as the top-tier choice for speedy executive travel. Has the 2022 BMW M5 Competition restored the model’s greatness?
As always, performance is the headline for BMW’s halo sedan. The 1988 M5– which ended the iconic E28’s run– had 277 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. The 2022 M5 has 627 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. It also weighs about ~4,400 pounds to the ‘88’s ~3,200 pounds. Mass apparently doesn’t matter, as technology has overcome the odds: The ‘88 did 0-60 in about 5.8 seconds, and the ‘22 can do the deed in 2.6.
The M5 dished out high-performance numbers then and knocks off supercar numbers now. It’s a bonafide rocket. Ripping off 0-60 and quarter-mile runs that would shame yesterday’s Lamborghinis and Ferraris (and some of today’s, too) is easy as slamming the gas pedal to the floor. You won’t beat a Tesla Plaid, but why’s it matter? The difference in the real world means nothing. And that V8’s sounds, be them fake or not, still bring out the smiles.
The M5’s handling isn’t as shocking as its outright speed, but it’s still mighty impressive. No road in the Northeast is big or fast enough to allow for maximizing the M5 Competition’s cornering prowess. The amount of mechanical grip is matched with so much traction-controlling tech that the car exudes a semi-permanent sense of safety. I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m nowhere near a good enough driver to get everything out of the M5 Comp. You really need a track to maximize what this car can do. Attempting such on a public road would be just plain irresponsible.
What you can take advantage of on the street is the M5’s Jekyll and Hyde personality. Toggle the suspension, exhaust, and steering settings to the car’s most comfortable, and the luxury factor is undeniable. Set this way, you could easily drive cross-country with ease. It’s smooth, controlled, and even plush for something of this level of performance. And should you run One Lap of America, simply switch everything to its angriest setting and let the madness fly. In M mode, the exhaust roars, and the car snaps off downshifts and rips off acceleration runs that are endlessly entertaining. Then there’s the Hyde Unhinged mode, which turns the AWD car into RWD. If you’re looking for the perfect year-round machine, this is it: Traction in the winter, playfulness in the summer. Sedate sedan for school runs, drift missile on the weekend. Or exiting the parking lot. Your choice.
The M5 is also just great to use as a normal car. The ride quality is fantastic. The trunk is enormous. The back seat accepts a baby seat with ease. There’s plenty of tech, and there are enough cubbies for drinks, masks, and hand sanitizer. The visibility is excellent thanks to a relatively short and low hood compared to that of the other front-engine cars that perform at this level. All-in-all, it’s just a good car.
The M5 has gone from expensive to “high-end expensive,” and this test unit was no exception. The 2022 M5 has a base price of $103,500, which somehow feels palatable by modern standards. As is usually the case, the test unit was loaded up with the options. The Competition pack adds $7,600, and M Carbon Ceramic Brakes cost $8,500. Drivers Assistance Pro Package costs $1,500, Executive Package adds $3,350, Smoke White / Black Merino leather interior costs $5,000, and the incredible Messing Metallic paint costs $5,000. Throw in $995 for Destination and $1,000 for the Gas Guzzler tax, and our press car had a sky-high price of $139,145. Consider that the low-production, hardcore M5 CS costs $142,000, and maybe it’s better to lay off the options or just pony up for the CS if you can find one at sticker. Good luck with that, though.
The 1988 M5 cost $46,500, which is $115,730.68 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation. So the price has stayed basically the same over the last 34 years, but the machine has gone from nimble and something that has to be milked for speed to one the exact opposite. The 2022 M5 is big and brings accessible speed to anyone with the money to afford it; skill be damned. And yet, unlike how this recipe has ruined so many other cars in their search for speed, it’s still a joy to drive. For a do-it-all, one-car solution, there simply might not be a better choice. Some things never change.
Mercedes has the M5 Comp in its bullseye with the E63 AMG, and higher-priced M5s can dabble in lower-spec Porsche Panamera territory, but without sampling those it’s hard to say which dominates the class. The outlier is Cadillac’s manic CT5-V Blackwing, with the only available manual transmission in the segment, but experience tells me the interior is neither as luxurious nor as pleasant to interact with as that of the BMW. Tech is a wash as far as these cars go in my mind; this is a class of cars that are meant to be driven, nannies left for those in the right lane. These cars are for left-lane Autobahn cruising. In my mind, if given the choice of the aforementioned super sedans, I’m doing so in the M5.
The 2022 M5 is the perfect executive performance sedan. It flies under the radar when being driven casually and flies like a supercar when you get on it. And the best thing is that it’s actually fantastic to drive, not just a tool for going fast. It’s a special thing and a true return to form for the M5.
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