A 600 hp family sedan: dizzying (and pointless)

The BMW M5 is a must. Audi had a family rocket with 560 hp, the RS6, and BMW had to go to at least 600 for the honor. There are now an Audi RS6 Performance with 605 horses and a Mercedes E-class AMG with 612. BMW will have to come up with a performance version soon. come to spice up the evolutionarily defeated base thing a bit. From 650 hp it is covered again.

That’s how all cars become a must. She an SUV, we also an SUV. They ball, we ball more. You’d call it healthy competition if it weren’t for sexual prestige with horsepower instead of inches: who’s got the biggest? Whoever fits for that horror is sidelined. A slave is freer than the manufacturer is in the free market. For example, from its debut in 1985 the M5 went from 286 to 315, from 315 to 340, from 340 to 507 and from 560 to 600 hp; because he had to since he no longer had the empire alone. He now sprints to 200 in 11.1 seconds. A normal car then drives 100. It is literally dizzying, the body can hardly handle the blows.

Little is more thoughtful than a spacious family sedan with 600 hp. Worrying is not about the meaning, which is not there. One wonders: where does one find the opportunity? I am standing in a Dutch traffic jam behind an ancient Nissan Micra, 55 hp. There’s no way I can get past him. This is the reality, also with 600 hp.

The M5 man can escape it at the Nürburgring. For a fee, he can kick indigestion on the Green Hell. Between ordinary boys who, in their Golfs and Opeltjes, make up for what they lack in power with courage and skill. He must stay miles ahead of them to defeat pauperdom with his technical superiority. Afterwards, like her, he gets to stick a cisgender sticker with a map of the circuit on the butt of his M5. The Micra woman who joins the A12 behind him during rush hour has no idea what it means. Fortunately, boys in normal BMWs do. But they think: M5, so I can do it too. Respect can never be bought.

I test its consumption. I drive for 150 miles with the air conditioning on. Result: 8.4 liters per 100 kilometers, almost 1 in 12. No supercar does that. With an even bigger hybrid Lexus I got the same average.

In that car I saw how that is possible. Instead of a tachometer, it had a power meter that indicates the percentage of power used. Converted roughly, that varied between 75 and 130 hp. Uphill it was of course a little more, even then not even a third of the available reserve; the car had 445. In the BMW, weighing 1,830 kilos, a turbo diesel with 150 hp would have been more than enough. The less extremist models from the 5-series are also well above that, they are so oversized. And that is also a lot of ordinary cars.

Full throttle without risk

The next day I do it differently. I configure the settings. Steering and damping can be in a sport and sport-plus position. With a button on the poker, I can make the automatic shift even more brutal. I don’t dare switch off the four-wheel drive and the stability control with the red dead man’s button on the right side of the steering wheel. Then it gets creepy on clover leaves that I can now take full throttle without any risk. He does that supernaturally well. But that’s not me, is it? That’s the BMW that lets me do what I can’t do myself. What an immense technical achievement, this car.

Would the M5 guy push that red button every morning? What if, after his soul-crushing Nürburg defeat, he comes to the conclusion that he might as well have bought a 530d?

The M5 reconciles him with his regrets. You don’t have to notice that volcano in the forecastle. With all options in ‘comfort’, the beast can be ridden like a lap dog. I put on Beethoven, the second movement of the sonata Op. 90 in E minor. The pianist: Emil Gilels, a dead Russian with zero horsepower and infinite musical potential. Meaningful technique too, being able to write lyrically. He gives me relief. My gentle boy heart has learned to fear in that monster. I detest and admire. Feeling and mind are broken.