BMWBLOG Goes Sideways in BMW’s Epic 2012 M5

Featured Posts, Test Drives | September 23rd, 2011 by 44
745 750x500 BMWBLOG Goes Sideways in BMWs Epic 2012 M5

The art of car control is a craft held in very high esteem. Varying the slip angle through a corner as you balance a car …

The art of car control is a craft held in very high esteem. Varying the slip angle through a corner as you balance a car on throttle, otherwise known as drifting, is the ultimate driving experience in many driver’s books – and at BMWBLOG, we can’t help but admit we are smitten by the thrill of it.

A seemingly infinite number of variables effect the behavior of a car at the limit of grip, a key factor being weight transfer. Therein lies the beauty of a BMW chassis, what with its ideal 50:50 weight distribution. A few other ingredients are helpful but not essential to complete the act (we’re still talking about thrilling driving). Front and center is rear-wheel-drive, you simply cannot power-slide a front-wheel-drive car. Manual transmissions are helpful, but again not essential as there are many ways to initiate a drift other than “popping the clutch” or dropping aggressively into a lower gear (can you say “drivetrain abuse?”). A limited slip differential (LSD) is an invaluable asset in your drifting adventures, allowing you to put the power down with better grip, more evenly distributing power through the rear wheels. Ample power and torque will go a long way to extend and control your slide, along with a high rev limit. Lastly, throttle response is of critical importance, since you’ll be steering the car with the throttle in unison with steering angle.

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If the above features are hallmarks of an ideal drift car, then BMW’s new M5 is the ultimate drift car for four. Period. It one-ups the aforementioned wish list in every way, starting with its limited-slip rear differential. Coined the “Active M Differential,” BMW M have fitted an electronically controlled, multi-plate rear diff that can lock up to 100% – directly linking the rear wheels. The electronic control of the differential is linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which takes several factors into consideration before determining how tightly the differential should be locked. Factors include throttle position, steering angle, yaw rate, anticipated throttle position, etc. The M5 is literally trying to anticipate your next maneuver, such that every fraction of grip is used efficiently, and not thrown away to frivolous inside wheel spin.

“The art of car control is a craft held in very high esteem.”

In the power department, BMW’s M5 raises the game with 560 hp available from 6,000 to 7,000 rpm. Equally important, the S63tu under-hood twists out a staggering 502 lb-ft of torque starting nearly from idle, at 1,500 rpm, all the way to 5,750 rpm. So vast are the M5’s power reserves that little more than a stab of the throttle is needed to initiate a drift, and get the rear end sliding; no manipulation of the clutch, brake torque or Scandinavian flick needed here. A relatively high redline of 7,200 rpm (commendably high for a turbo engine) allows you to extend your slide. Throttle response from the M5’s turbo V8 is excellent, with very little to no lag noted in most gears – certainly the lower ones. The immediacy of the throttle response is first-class, and most would be very hard pressed to ascertain any lag while driving.

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Finally, the 7-speed semi-automated dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is a marvel, slamming the gears in with aggression and speed while programed in its sportiest setting. Whereas I am a die-hard manual traditionalist and thoroughly enjoy the connection between man and machine while switching my own gears – the 7-speed DCT works so well in the M5 that what it lacks in left leg involvement, it makes up for through its ability to bang gears in while in the middle of a lengthy slide. Try doing that smoothly with a third petal, and you begin to appreciate the merits of the M DCT – at least in the scope of drifting exercises.

“BMW’s new M5 is the ultimate drift car for four.”

Does all this talk of smokey sliding sound a touch juvenile to you? In a safe, isolated environment, why not give it a try and judge for yourself? Learning the subtleties of car control at the limit of grip will make you a better and safer driver in every way – just be responsible in practice and find an isolated space to try your hand; avoid public roads as they are not a place to learn! You will find it easier to start practicing on surfaces with lower grip coefficients – snow covered asphalt being the best and easiest place to start, followed by rain soaked roads, and finally dry pavement. There must be some merit to the practice, as it is all the rage with internationally recognized drift championships gaining popularity everywhere. We also note that BMW consistently markets their sports cars in lurid, drawn out drifts. Sex sells, and in the automotive market place, so does drifting through a commercial.

BMW’s M5 was easily driftable – seemingly begging for more, corner after corner. This car has a manic personality that surfaces every time you hit the ‘M’ button. It is a head-banging, thrill-seeking monster with an appetite for corners (and tires) that few cars have. We loved every minute of our time behind the wheel at Ascari race circuit in Spain, and we look forward to future drives with BMW’s brilliant M5.

Stay tuned for BMWBLOG’s M5 road review, racetrack review, and further technical pieces to be published shortly. In the meantime, enjoy our exclusive photo gallery shot earlier today at the Ascari race circuit in Spain.

(Photos credit: Tom Kirkpatrick)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hubert-Jadczak/100000325894622 Hubert Jadczak

    <3

  • Mateo

    bmw M was all about neutral handling, no understeer, or oversteer. And burning tyres in AMG thing. BMW – kill yourself, I’m currently driving ford focus, when i get some money – i’ll buy ford focus st – I always loved BMW way – NA engines, handling, average interior – add M and you got extreme car. Today its Turbo engines, fat big cars, great interiors — add M and you got nothing but more power. Pointless. I’m really sad as a fan, bmw was something special while Paul Rosche was in the M division!

    • wazon

      Show me the car that achieved 7:55 at Ring by merely having more hp than stock version of it. That’s exactly should be the case, if M5 was nothing more than more powerful 550i with M-badge. You simply don’t know what your talking about. My advise is that you should read some article about what M-egnineers did to M5.

      The other point is: How drifting is supposed to relate to oversteer or understeer? Have you ever been at any drifiting contest? Which cars are in majority? BMWs, aren’t they? Some of them are old, some are not and all of them burn tires! Yes, it’s really surprising that cars with power over 200hp are able to burn tires. Moreover, does 50/50 weight distribution means something to you? I’ve never seen a car with this weight distribution, which tend to be understeer or oversteer.You even contradict yourself: you complain on turbo-charged engine in M5, which is claimed to have no noticeable turbo-lag and you praise FWD Focus ST, which, at best, is equipped with turbo-charged 2.0 litre engine with huuuuuuuuuge turbo-lag. 

      • Mateozunic

        focus st is just hot hatch-nothing more, M5 used to be something special, sideways, power laps isn’t what should make M5, M5 should be ultiamte driving experiance on normal roads – look at topgear review of E60 M5, you see how clarkson enjoys in sound, gearchange, steering feel – ne car doesn’t have that because it has engine from X5M, gearbox from M3 and it’s too big and heavy, merc E63AMG weights 100 ks less..
        As I said, new M5 (and new M cars in general) are great but today audi’s RS, Merc AMG’s are great, M should be more than that. I just don’t care about nurburgring times, burning tyres and other stuff, I’m like James May, that is the noise made by idiots.
        just my opinion.

        • wazon

          Whether M5 drifts, is involved in power-las and so on, depends on its driver will. I’ve seen number of M5s that work during drifiting contest. True, most of drivers don’t drift with them, but it’s true also about M3  and all BMWs in general. Still, BMWs are the most popular cars among drifters in Europe. I think that you should just watch the video about the Ring Taxi. It should give you a clue about handling ability of this car. It’s really fast there and you won’t find there almost any drift moments. 

          As for RS6 and E63AMG issue, it’s enough to say that the last one is declassed by M5 and the upcoming RS6 will never catch M5 in terms of feeling and fun from driving – that’s sad fate of all AWD cars. 

          BTW, I don’t think it’s good idea to form an opinion about the car after one single review. It seems that Shawn likes drifting. Read his review of 535i. Guess what? At some photos 535i drags tail of smoke from burning tires either. :)

        • wazon

          BTW, I don’t like drifting either. It is as bad for such cars as M5 as stunts are for superbikes. 

          • Mateozunic

            i agree with you, ringtaxi is M5 but track is wide etc, it’s hard track but it is a track – it will never be a public road! Top Gear gaveF10 M5 17/20 – i didn’t expect nothing less than that. this m5 is fantastic but it’s just, E60 was more special, that’s all.

          • wazon

            Take a look at Autoblog review. They said a lot of good things about this M5 and its ability of taking corners: http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/22/2012-bmw-m5-first-drive-review/

          • Mateo

            i konw, top gear gave it 17 out of 20! that outrageout. it is geat car, better than E60 in any way but it’s just not naturally aspirated, i doesn’t have its own engine, its own gearbox, it’s just made from updates leftovers…..like 1M which is also stunning car but M was always more – merc E63AMG is also stunning but M5 should be something more.

      • Mateozunic

        focus st is just hot hatch-nothing more, M5 used to be something special, sideways, power laps isn’t what should make M5, M5 should be ultiamte driving experiance on normal roads – look at topgear review of E60 M5, you see how clarkson enjoys in sound, gearchange, steering feel – ne car doesn’t have that because it has engine from X5M, gearbox from M3 and it’s too big and heavy, merc E63AMG weights 100 ks less..
        As I said, new M5 (and new M cars in general) are great but today audi’s RS, Merc AMG’s are great, M should be more than that. I just don’t care about nurburgring times, burning tyres and other stuff, I’m like James May, that is the noise made by idiots.
        just my opinion.

  • Manny Antunes

    Shawn, YOU SUCK!!! *Jealous* 

    Love, 
               Manny A ;)

  • fuzzy

    “BMW’s new M5 is the ultimate drift car for four.” – facepalm, BMW is a car for a driver.

    • Mateo

      SIMPLY TRUE fuzzy – respect

  • fuzzy

    BMW just need a different car body for M5. F10 – it’s more comfortable sedan, not sport

  • Simon_

    the car very well

  • Mr Suthu

    this is the best car yet

  • Anonymous

    very good car,possibly the best in own class,if you buy this car you will not miss the old one v10

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