The 2013 M5 is one potent road machine, even more so than the M3. If you don’t live near a good racetrack that hosts track days, don’t buy one; 99 percent of its potential will go to waste. And drivers who think sports cars and technology don’t mix should also steer clear, as the M5 relies on technology as much as the Nissan GT-R.
The previous-generation M5, similar to the M3, was marked, or possibly marred, by too many settings. The dual-clutch transmission had more than a dozen modes, while the suspension and engine could be dialed into a number of different combinations. For 2013, BMW refined these settings on the M5, making them a little easier to understand, if not less complex.
As mentioned above, the car starts off in its mildest settings for accelerator, suspension, and steering, that last being a new tunable element of the M5. A readout at the base of the tachometer shows how each is set. Buttons near the shifter toggle each aspect of the car through Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus settings.
In its default Clark Kent mode, the M5 feels clumsy, like a big car that takes an ample push on the gas to pick up speed. The wheel turns easily and the loose suspension is hampered by wide, low-profile tires that do a poor job of insulating the cabin from imperfections in the road.
The M5 also has idle-stop, a controversial feature inspiring Internet threads on how to disable it. I found that I could live with it, as long as I was driving in suburban areas with long traffic lights. In the city, where the traffic tended to creep, it often turned the engine off just as I needed to go forward. Also, with such a big engine, it did not restart smoothly or all that quickly. However, I could disable the feature by pushing a button near the starter, and it stuck with its last setting even when I restarted the car.