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BMW M5 Nighthawk Edition 2015 review

Peter Barnwell reviews the updated BMW M5 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

With a direct lineage going back to 1972, BMW's M5 is arguably responsible for the popularisation of big, powerful German sports sedans.

Mercedes was in on it too, but the original M5 established a formula that has held true for decades. Sure the mad six pot engine has given way to a V8, even dabbling in V10 territory along the way, but the recipe is pretty much the same: four doors, medium large sedan, outrageously powerful engine and all the necessary kit to keep it firmly on the road.

Muscle cars

The yanks called them muscle cars but the German variety offers something different and more refined.

Such is the case with the latest M5 sedan now with a 4.4-litre, twin turbo (two twin scroll units), petrol V8 engine with up to 423kW/680Nm output. That's 567hp the old money, a figure that guarantees eye watering performance in a car this size.

It's the net result of forty years development and wow, what a car it is.

And after a drive at Sandown racetrack this week and despite approaching the 2.0-tonne mark, we can attest to the M5's accelerative powers as well as its cornering capability, ride control, steering, braking and pretty much anything else you care to mention.

It's the net result of forty years development and wow, what a car it is.

Three models 

But Aussie buyers are overlooking the bigger German sports sedans in favour of the next size down, something BMW is trying to redress with three new M5 variants; Blackhawk and White Shadow at $235,930 apiece and the focus of much attention, the M5 Pure with a little less kit and a little less power (412kW/680Nm) but a start price of "just $185,000".

At this price point, the Pure is getting horribly close to an optioned up M3 and M4 hot rod and practically every BMW buyer ticks most of the options boxes. It is a V8 though and not a six pot.

Satin matte (frozen) paint seems the order of the day with all three M5s available in the dulled down but oh so sexy low lustre finish. You can get gloss too but matte is perfectly in keeping on a car like this.

Black looks stealth, white looks racy and the blue on Pure - well, it rocks your socks off.


BMW will only import 10 apiece of the limited edition, luxury spec White Shadow and Nighthawk models, more of the Pure which could improve M5's sales rate based on spec, price, performance and the competition, essentially Mercedes-Benz's E63 AMG and the Audi RS7 (all wheel drive).

Pure scores plenty of kit including 20-inch alloys with high performance tyres, active M differential, huge brakes, sports seats, tyre pressure monitor, ConnectedDrive and internet, and a wide range of high end driver assist equipment and luxury features.

The two limited editions models score more on top of that including BMW's Competition Package which ups power and includes a modified exhaust and lowered suspension, more direct steering and upgraded dynamic damper (suspension) control.

All three versions have rear wheel drive through a multi-mode seven speed dual-clutch auto.

Force fed 

The force fed engine is pretty much the same with Pure in a slightly lower state of tune but you'd never know it to drive them back to back.

The two limited edition models clock a 0-100km/h in 4.2, with the Pure a tenth slower, and fuel consumption on the combined cycle is a not bad 9.9L/100km - much more when you wick it up. Auto stop start is fitted to all M5s.


This is the fun part - about half an hour on a race track with one of Germany's best sports sedan cars, a showcase of technology and brute force. It was a taste of high end hoon heaven.

First up was the blue Pure which rolled onto the starting grid after a minute or two of set up. Many drive options are provided but we went for the full sports mode straight up pushed the button and away we went.

It was a taste of high end hoon heaven.

The car feels a lot lighter than it actually is and nimble too offering up sharp steering and strong stopping power with a controlled stance on most surfaces.

Not taily at all, the big Bimmer hunkers down and shoots forwards like a real race car ready for the next application of brakes and steering input. It is a wieldy beast capable of negotiating the tight stuff and then blasting along the straights at a withering pace.

Then it's hard on the picks again and start the process all over. Make sure you select Sport+ Not Sport which leaves the pessimistic stabilty control system dictating the fun factor. Sport+ gives the driver much more latitude and faster lapping, better drive out of corners and a whole lot more driver engagement.

It sounds impressive inside the car but that is pretty much artificially generated. Outside, M5 has a flat, un-V8 exhaust note.

Then onto the Blackhawk which was similar but better than the Pure to drive on the track, more communicative, better steering and ride control, faster laps - but at a price.

Really, truly, the Pure is all you need and it's nit picking to compare one M5 with the other.

They look the business inside and out and have a real presence on the road if a little too derivative of other BMW's particularly the larger 7-series (same designer).


The M5 is a fabulous car. A big, bold, brash, bahn blaster transposed to Australia with nowhere to go unfortunately.

Still, down at the clubhouse, the M5 would most likely win bragging rights 99 times out of 100.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

M3 4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $66,000 – 75,900 2015 BMW M Models 2015 M3 Pricing and Specs
M5 Pure 4.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $56,980 – 65,450 2015 BMW M Models 2015 M5 Pure Pricing and Specs
M5 4.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $52,800 – 60,720 2015 BMW M Models 2015 M5 Pricing and Specs
M5 Nighthawk 4.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $61,380 – 70,510 2015 BMW M Models 2015 M5 Nighthawk Pricing and Specs
Peter Barnwell


Pricing Guide


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