Bimmers tend to be dual-personality cars, going from mild-mannered premium vehicle to road-eating beast at the push of a button or three. But the 2013 BMW M5 is mostly brutish Mr. Hyde, with only a little bit of refined Dr. Jekyll in evidence.

BMW includes all sorts of creature comforts in the M5, such as navigation, a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and app integration. There is even a lane-departure warning system for long road trips. At ignition, the car defaults to its most pedestrian settings, with steering and suspension in Comfort modes, and the accelerator in Efficient mode.

But as I drove the new M5 through city traffic, I could tell it was not happy. Power from the direct-injection twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 came on unevenly; slow, then really, really fast. Although the suspension setting said Comfort, the car could not resist communicating the feel of the road through the steering wheel, and tended to bounce me around when going over potholes.

On the flip side, when I could find a road that came close to testing the M5’s capabilities, the car was ferocious. Over my favorite twisty mountain backroads, the M5 barely batted a headlight as it swept through the turns. With the revolutions per minute over 6,000, the engine makes a beautiful sound as 1,000 precisely milled German parts seamlessly work together to generate the peak 560 horsepower. On a straight, where I could get on the power, a glance at the head-up display showed that the car took me from 35 to 75 mph in the blink of an eye.

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