Full 2014 BMW M5 Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 BMW M5 is available with the optional Competition package, which provides a 15-horsepower increase (now 575), a different exhaust system, unique 20-inch wheels and minor chassis revisions. In addition, all M5s receive subtle styling updates, a new steering wheel and touchpad entry capability for the iDrive infotainment system. Adaptive LED headlights are a new option, as is a collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection.
To the layman, the 2014 BMW M5 is simply a high-performance version of the 5 Series sedan. However, there have been so many great M5 sedans over the years that the nameplate stands on its own. For many driving enthusiasts, the M5 represents the ultimate luxury sport sedan, and buying one is often the fulfillment of a life's dream. The current M5 represents a slight shift in philosophy, though. It's still a spectacularly quick and capable performance sedan, but it's not quite as focused and involving to drive as its forbears.
Balancing that change is the 2014 M5's roomy and luxurious interior. Compared with earlier models, it comes with far more of the creature comforts that well-heeled buyers are looking for in a premium sport sedan. Fuel economy also garners greater attention this time around. This is the most fuel-efficient BMW M5 ever, in spite of the fact that the car's twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces 560 hp in standard tune. For 2014, the optional Competition package bumps that to 575 hp, thanks to mild revisions to the exhaust system and engine software.
You still have your choice of BMW's seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (DCT) or, unusual for this class, a conventional six-speed manual gearbox. Either one will deliver you to 60 mph in the 4-second range, and thanks to the M5's standard torque-vectoring rear differential and driver-adjustable adaptive suspension, it's still very capable and enjoyable on twisty back roads, too. In the end, we think only the most demanding drivers will notice that the current BMW M5 can't quite match the live-wire responses of the previous-generation car.
Besides that, there still aren't many other four-door cars that can run with the 2014 BMW M5. Although, if you're shopping for one, you'll want to give at least passing consideration to alternatives such as the Audi RS 7, Cadillac CTS-V, Jaguar XFR-S, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG or one of the faster members of the Porsche Panamera family. All of these cars are exciting in their own right, but the M5's blend of athleticism and refinement continues to hit a sweet spot among high-performance luxury sedans.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 BMW M5 is a high-performance, four-door luxury sedan with seating for five. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, summer performance tires, a driver-adjustable adaptive suspension, adaptive xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, leather upholstery, 16-way power sport front seats, heated front seats with memory settings, and split-folding rear seats. Standard electronics features include the iDrive electronics interface, a navigation system, voice control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration, telematics services, traffic information and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with a six-CD changer, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
The optional Driver Assistance Plus package adds lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems; a forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection; speed limit information; and side- and top-view cameras. An Executive package adds keyless ignition and entry, a power-operated trunk lid, soft-close doors, a heated steering wheel, ventilated and massaging functionality for the front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side window shades, a head-up display, satellite radio and three years of Concierge services. A Lighting package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control. Stand-alone options include 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, a rear seat entertainment system, a sport exhaust system, an upgraded 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system, a rear-seat entertainment system (with dual 9.2-inch screens) and a night vision camera system with pedestrian detection.
New for 2014, the Competition package brings 15 extra horses via a freer-breathing exhaust system along with special 20-inch wheels; a more aggressive state of tune for the steering, suspension and rear M differential; and black chrome tailpipes.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2014 BMW M5 is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that produces 560 hp (575 with the Competition package) and 502 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated manual with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters comes standard, though a six-speed conventional manual transmission is a no-cost option aimed at sport sedan purists. All M5s feature a defeatable automatic stop-start engine function and a torque-vectoring rear differential.
In Edmunds testing, a manual-shift M5 without the Competition package hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
The 2014 BMW M5 comes standard with ventilated antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, cornering brake control, brake fade compensation, automatic brake drying and hill launch assist. It also comes with front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, knee protection, side curtain airbags, active front-seat head restraints and the BMW Assist emergency telematics system.
Carbon-ceramic brakes are a stand-alone option, as is a night vision camera system capable of displaying oncoming animals, objects or people that are beyond the range of the car's headlights. In addition, last year's optional Driver Assistance package has been renamed Driver Assistance Plus due to the addition of a forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection.
In Edmunds brake testing, an M5 with the standard brake setup took 111 feet to stop from 60 mph -- an impressive performance for a nearly 4,400-pound sedan.
Interior Design and Special Features
The M5's interior is trimmed in copious amounts of leather and aluminum. The driver and front passenger are spoiled with splendid, 16-way-adjustable seats with articulating headrests and backrests and adjustable side bolters, making it virtually impossible to be uncomfortable. Furthermore, they look as good as they feel. The new-for-'14 steering wheel has a slightly retro look with its thin spokes, but a meaty, contoured rim makes it a joy to grip. Also new is a larger armrest storage compartment and additional chrome trim around the console.
BMW's iDrive system continues to evolve, and works quite well in the M5. It features a wide screen and an elegant control knob in the center console that together govern most entertainment, climate control and navigation functions, as well as various vehicle settings. Touchpad entry is a new feature for the navigation system this year, and it allows owners to enter destinations freehand by tracing their finger on top of the control knob. Although the iDrive interface is generally straightforward, the sheer number of menu paths necessitates taking some time to familiarize yourself after you buy the car. Fortunately, most of the adjustable drivetrain features have their own buttons around the gearshift lever for quick access.
Rear seat passengers fare quite well, too, just as they do in any other 5 Series. The seatback also splits and folds, expanding the usability of the 14-cubic-foot trunk.
With so much power on tap, the 2014 BMW M5 feels extremely quick in virtually any situation. Its twin-turbocharged V8 exhibits very little turbo lag, though it doesn't feel truly potent until engine speed reaches 3,000 rpm. It also doesn't begin making typically throaty V8 sounds until this point, and even then, you'll need to have the windows down to enjoy it. Leave the windows up and the engine's actual voice is unable to penetrate the sedan's tightly insulated interior.
The seven-speed automated manual transmission shifts as smoothly as a regular automatic in its comfort setting, yet it is lightning-quick to respond in its Sport and Sport+ settings and when manual shifts are summoned (via the steering wheel paddles or the shift lever itself). The conventional six-speed manual is appropriately notchy for a sporty feel, and we love how it blips the throttle for you as soon as you move the lever into a lower gear, helping you nail the perfect downshift.
With its various engine, suspension, steering and transmission settings, the M5 can be very mannerly in its more relaxed settings, yet it tightens up for serious back-road shenanigans in its sharpest settings. Even during extreme cornering maneuvers, the M5 remains utterly flat and composed. The trade-off is a firm ride, even in its softest suspension setting, and this is definitely something to pay attention to if you regularly drive on less than pristine pavement. The steering is a bit of a disappointment, too, as the sportier settings merely increase the effort level without improving the feel. On the other hand, the standard brakes work brilliantly and provide great feedback. Still, anyone planning to take a BMW M5 to a weekend track day or two would be wise to upgrade to the optional carbon-ceramic discs, which are less prone to fade under hard use.