Test Drive: 2012 BMW M5 car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
2012 BMW M5. Click image to enlarge
First Drive: 2006 BMW M5

Manufacturer’s web site
BMW Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 BMW M5

Throughout my almost-week in the 2012 BMW M5, I was constantly flip-flopping between awe of its, um, awesomeness and head-shaking, school-boy chuckling about its absurdity. I mean seriously, what am I supposed to do with 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque on public roads? Sure, “Take it to the track you say,” but BMW was very insistent about NOT taking it on a racetrack, and I’m not one to bite the hand that feeds me 560-hp cars.

So again, I asked myself, “What am I supposed to do with this thing?” Well, right there on the press release was my challenge: “This iconic model has exemplified the luxury and daily usability of a top-range BMW sedan…” Has it now? Well, now that is something we can test.

Test Drive: 2012 BMW M5 car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
2012 BMW M5. Click image to enlarge

The BMW M5 starts with a 5 Series chassis, measuring 4,916 mm with a 2964 mm wheelbase, with every component in the suspension and chassis reinvented and reinforced by the engineers at BMW’s M division. That is a lot of car. However, it doesn’t yield stupendous amounts of interior space, with average head, shoulder, and legroom in both rows. The rear seat is a squeeze for three passengers, especially if one is in a child safety seat. But whether it is just a happy coincidence or an excellent design, my daughter’s child seat fit perfectly and strapped in tight once I popped loose all the chintzy plastic covers over the LATCH anchors.

This M5 interior was tailored in Sakhir Orange Full Merino Leather (a $4,500 package); a little on the wild side for my tastes, but oddly pleasing given the exterior’s muted, but very stealthy Singapore grey metallic to go along with its professional assassin’s tailored business suit looks. Other interior colours run the gamut from five shades of grey or black, Cohiba Brown, or Champagne. Exterior colours are dominated by greys and blues, and Alpine White the only non-metallic option, plus a handful of BMW “Individual” colour choices offering even more grey/silver/black options.

Test Drive: 2012 BMW M5 car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
Test Drive: 2012 BMW M5 car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
Test Drive: 2012 BMW M5 car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
2012 BMW M5. Click image to enlarge

No matter the colour, the craftsmanship is typical BMW, the paintwork glistening in the sun, the leather stitched tight in every crevice, suede-like “anthracite” roof liner and the stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel in the signature red, navy, and baby blue of BMW’s M brand. The three-spoke steering wheel itself is a fat, grippy rim, with plenty of buttons packed into its east and west spokes, and more on those buttons later.

The gauge cluster was simple and clear with large tach and speedo and small ancillary gauges for engine temp and fuel, and this car also featured a full-colour head-up display that can display a tach with current gear and a shift indicator light. Future generations will also display turn-by-turn directions from the nav guidance—more on that and future improvements in our Auto Tech column on BMW ConnectedDrive.

The dash and doors feature a weave-pattern aluminum bar that gives the interior a high-tech look. The centre stack is wide with a 10.2-inch infotainment screen controlled through the iDrive knob to the right of the shifter, plus redundant stereo controls, and automatic climate control switches below that. The iDrive system is intuitive, flexible, and easy on the eyes, and the nav system will display landmark buildings in 3D mode. Neat.

The cupholders are a mess, with two-stage spring loaded grips that do not like flat-sided beverage containers. At first, I told my wife, “It’s fine,” but then I struggled getting my favourite water bottle in, having to use two hands to finally get it in place. Fail: a world-beating sports car might not need cupholders, but a luxury family sedan does.

The seats, on the other hand, fulfill both ends of the spectrum, adjustable in a seemingly infinite number of directions, heated and cooled with driver and passenger memory positions, and seat bottom massage that was an odd, slow, side-to-side inflation probably meant to relieve numb-butt on long drives. I don’t see any benefit for competitive driving, unless that is an issue in 24-hour races. The driver also gets a full-size dead pedal, in aluminum, with an M badge.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.