When you have to search the ranks of Ferrari’s fastest supercars for comparisons, you know there’s something special about the new BMW M5

2018 BMW M5

The idiom “too much is never enough” has never been so vociferously challenged

Pros Power. More power. Way too much power. Oh, and it handles like a treat, too

Cons Uhm, speeding tickets and outrageous insurance bills. Not enough rear seat legroom, either

Value for money Jeez, I don’t know. What price a four-door Ferrari?

What would I change? A little less weight would not go remiss

How I would spec it? If you’re spending this much and getting so much power why not get the full-zoot package, right?

BMW is lying. Flat out lying. Through their teeth, as famed dragon-slayer Sir Guy of Warwick would have said. Worse yet, the deceit — at least according to MotorAuthority— may be deliberate with malice aforethought, as they say. Despite the evidence of their bending of truth, BMW still won’t — like a certain president we’re no longer allowed to mention — fess up.

And yet, say the analysts at the Motor Authority, there is unimpeachable — OK, again, like the 45th president, quasi-unimpeachable — evidence that BMW is being duplicitous with the performance figures we’re all bandying about for their all-new, all-singing, andall-wheel drive M5. According to an article published earlier this year, there is no way that the new M5 produces the 600 horsepower that BMW claims. Instead, the twin turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 — a thoroughly breathed upon version of the engine that powers the M550i xDrive — pumps out … 700 horsepower.

That’s right – 700 rootin’, tootin’, heavily turbocharged horsepower. Not some 600 measly ponies – barely more than, say, a wet-behind-the-ears Mercedes-AMG E63 or some mamby-pamby Audi RS7. Nosireebob, it may say 600 horsepower on the spec sheet, but according to Motor Authority, there’s fully 700 SAE-approved, Lord-spare-my-Michelin-Sport-Cup-tires Cyldesdales at the ready.

That is more, for those searching for context beyond mere performance sedan, than the healthiest of Lamborghini Huracans, the Audi R8 and even Ferrari’s 488 GTB. Hell, that’s barely 10 ponies shy of the new 488 Pista. Credit the competition from the aforementioned Audi and Mercedes. Credit even, if you want, the onslaught of “ludicrous” Tesla Model S’s. Whatever the case, is this some sort or internally-combusting, petroleum-driven heaven or what?

Now, there is a caveat to all this over-reach. It does require a bit of math to reach the same conclusion as the good folks at the Motor Authority. In essence, the calculation goes something like this: All manufacturers tout the horsepower their engines — turbocharged or not — make at the crankshaft. In between said engine output shaft and the rear wheels — where it counts — there’s between a 10 and 15 per cent drop thanks to the internal friction of transmission gear and bearings, not to mention the axles. So, if BMW’s latest M5 were producing BMW’s claimed 600 horsepower at the crank, on a rolling-road dynometer which measures horsepower at the wheels, we’d expect to see, say, 540 or so horsepower flashing on an a calibrated dyno’s screen.

But, when the M-beast was strapped onto the rolling road, what came out the other end was 625 horses. Oh, when it is in rear-drive, Sport + mode, there’s only 593 ponies, presumably because BMW thinks that’s all that 285/35R20 rear rubber can parlay. But in AWD mode, there’s fully 625 horsepower driving all four wheels. Do the algebra, says Motoring Authority, and the number that pops out at the other end of the equation is 700.

So, OK, it’s a little convoluted. Maybe the calculations are off a few percentage points, skewed by, say, BMW transmissions being more efficient than most. Perhaps the new M5 is only producing 675 horsepower at the crank. It matters not. Whatever fudge factor you calibrate in, it would appear the new M5 makes significantly more than the 600 BMW brags about.

For those not raised at the altar of high compression, this raises the question of, who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks needs 700 — or 675, for that matter — horsepower? On the other hand, if you’re reading this review, you’re probably a gearhead and the question on your mind is more like, “does it feel like it has 700 horsepower?”

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it does. Officially, BMW says that it scoots from rest to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. Again, for context, a 488 GTB takes about three seconds flat for the same feat. The super hyper, extra-special 488 Pista version takes 2.85 seconds. Quicker, yes, but when you have to start searching the ranks of the very fastest supercars Ferrari makes for comparisons, you know there’s something special about your four-door sedan.

Indeed, on a recent trip to Ottawa, I had to pull over by the side of the road for an, uhm, emergency of the piddling variety. Traffic was so fierce that, when I finally saw an opening, I really had to put my foot into it. Only out of necessity for the safety of my fellow road users, of course.

Lordy, but was that fun! In fact, so much fun that I had another two or three ‘emergencies’ further down the highway, with my “but officer, I had to merge with traffic … quickly” very well rehearsed. Truth be told, that’s all I can really tell you about the speed of the latest M5, yet another of the increasing number of automobiles — two- and four-doored — that really require a closed-course to enjoy. Six, seven hundred or whatever the real number of horses, BMW’s latest super-sedan really does produce, it’s largely immaterial if you’re never going to do the track day thing.

As for the rest of the M5’s sporting bona-fides, I, unfortunately, have a little less feedback. This being spring in Ontario — more specifically, 2018’s desperately frigid spring — I had little opportunity for apexing shenanigans. What little I did revealed an M5 that at least feels lighter than the previous generation, even if in reality, it has lost precious little avoirdupois — the previous M5 weighed in at 1,990 kilograms; the 2018 tips the scales at 1,982.

Nonetheless, the new M5 feels significantly sharper than the last two versions, if not quite the sharp-shooting sniper that the E34 generation was, then at least not the ponderous blunderbuss that the rendered the last generation so horribly disappointing. The steering has more feel, there’s no longer that “thousand-one, thousand-two” delay in transferring weight every time you slam it into a corner (OK, I may have also played on a few ramps as well, officer) and body roll, at least for use on public roads, is well contained. Its exact limits, however, remain untested. And I can’t tell you whether those poor Michelin Pilot Sport tires will turn to molten goo five laps after you hit the track, as its predecessor did. But it at least ‘feels’ lighter and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

As for everyday comportment, BMW’s 5 Series is a well-known quantity. Take one M550i, add stiffer suspension and a bunch more power, and you pretty much have it. The infotainment and navigation system is standard, latest-generation BMW fare, the seats firm-ish and the décor inviting, if a little on the Teutonic side of austere. The one fault, like all 5s past — and, yes, including the latest generation — is that the rear seat legroom is tighter than one expects from a luxury sedan that bills itself as mid-sized. My dear old dad has sat in the rear of outwardly smaller cars — usually Asian imports — that boasted more room for his size 10s, despite costing half as much and riding on shorter wheelbase.

But then, if you’re shopping the F90 M5, you already know BMW 5s and their pitfalls. More important to you, much more important, is that King Kong of a motor up front. As for exactly how King Kong-ish the new M5 really is, I will challenge neither BMW’s claims nor the calculations of others, but simply state the blindingly obvious: The 2018 BMW M5 is bloody quick. Indeed, if you need something faster, you might wanna consider a LaFerrari. Or maybe an F18 fighter jet. You know, so you can merge with traffic.