The BMW M5 (from RM942,760) debuted in Malaysia in one of its natural habitats: Sepang International Circuit. It was revealed in a squeal and smell of rubber and a display of stunt driving, which some might think to be a bit over-the-top – but then again, this is a BMW M, so perhaps not.
The latest generation of the definitive sports sedan, the M5, like its progenitors, shares much of its external appearance with its more pedestrian cousins. The distinguishing details are noticeable, however, if you know what to look for: the rear diffuser, spoiler and quad tailpipes for instance, or the aggressively fashioned side gills.
Under the hood, the difference is more pronounced. Like its immediate predecessor, the M5 is powered by a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8. Yet the new engine kicks out 40 more horsepower for a total of 600bhp, and a 0-100km/h time improved to a blistering 3.4 seconds. That is correct; this nearly two-tonne, four-door sedan is capable of snapping at the heels of a ground-hugging supercar. Contributing to this incredible speed is the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, and a host of weight-saving measures such as the aluminium bonnet and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic roof. The optional carbon ceramic brakes will shed a further 23kg.
Harnessing this power on the track makes for a surprisingly refined drive. It is not, say, the nimble and raw experience of the BMW M2 coupe; it is altogether more mature. Hurtling towards a corner is not as terrifying as it perhaps should feel – you might want to keep an eye on the speedometer. The M xDrive all-wheel drive system keeps everything nice and tidy in the corners. Yes, the all-wheel-drive system, a first for the M5, makes attacking curves and controlling drifts easier than ever. The purists are raising their eyebrows, but would be happy to hear that the system can be turned completely off for good old-fashioned, rear-wheel-drive fun.
And for the more regular type of road? Well, make no mistake: as capable as it is on the track, the M5 is quite proudly a true executive sedan. This means plush leather seats, enough leg room no matter the seat, and a cavernous boot (with no battery pack chipping away at the cargo space, either). Add the optional rear entertainment screens and 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system and it makes for a luxurious highway cruise.