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We drove our first BMW M5, and it’s still brilliant


It’s ironic, isn’t it?

We are in Germany to drive BMW’s newest all-electric spaceshipbut still complete with unlimited hard drive in the first M5.

To be sure, this isn’t the first full-fat M car to come from BMW Motorsport GmbH (known as the ‘M’): that status quo fell into the hands of the stunning Giugiaro-designed M1 supercar that debuted in in 1978.

But the E28 M5 certainly gave the term real meaning, ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’.

In fact, it does more than that. Many argue that it was the E28 M5 that laid the foundation for the sports sedan segment itself, where repulsiveness is part of essential DNA.

Compared to the regular BMW 5 Series E28, which was the standard business class sedan at the time, the M5 super sedan barely stood out.

The mandatory M5 badges on the grille and rear of the car are small and relatively modest, and make no difference from what’s under the bonnet or indeed the upgraded chassis has made the car This game-changing BMW is respected.

Even the bodywork is refined, almost fine. The front and rear bumpers are barely noticeable on the radar, except for the small rubber trunk lid spoiler and discrete side skirts that add a bit of determination to the M5’s almost unassuming look.

Only visible to the trained eye or to M enthusiasts are the subtle wheel arch extensions and slightly lowered profile – necessary thanks to the larger wheel and tire combination fitted. for the M model.

However, all the good stuff is under the deck. Under the bonnet is a 3.5-liter, 4-valve, in-line 6-cylinder, first used on the M1 road car, only in the M5 (and M635CSi), the wick is screwed up to emit develop more strength.

The engine itself is named M88/3 and is characterized by cross-flow, light-alloy cylinder heads, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, centrally located spark plugs. , digital engine electronics and individual throttle.

All this hardware means the M5 has developed an unrivaled 286hp (213kW) at 6500rpm and 340Nm of torque, not only more than the M1 9PS but also more than the Ferrari 328 of the time.

As a result, it can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 245 km/h – earning it the title The world’s fastest four-door sports sedan.

This happens as the M535i generates 160kW and 310Nm of peak power and torque respectively from its 3.4-litre inline-six, or significantly less if you live in the US.

It’s not just the M1 engine being tinkered with. The chassis also gets special attention with its single-air decompression form, while the front brake discs are ventilated inside.

Furthermore, the M5 benefits from a specially designed anti-lock braking system, a more powerful 5-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential due to the extra load it faces with conventional 5 Series models. often.

That refinement continues inside but for a few key factors the M5 distinguishes it immediately from its usual stable of offerings, as luxurious as they are.

Our perfectly presented test car was from the BMW Classic in Munich and fitted with optional, conspicuous sports seats with thick padding and an embroidered M logo on the backrest.

They’re amazingly comfortable and are electrically adjustable in all directions via a strip of adjustment switches on either side of the handbrake.

There’s another M logo on the completely clean three-spoke steering wheel. Not a single button or switch is visible.

The dashboard is a typical BMW-style driver-focused unit, adorned with an old-fashioned computer and a bunch of buttons for the stereo and air-conditioning systems. And don’t forget the stout little manual gearshifter finished with the powerful M logo that signifies its high performance status and rarity.

Remember, this generation M5 is from an era when genuine performance cars had manual transmissions – exclusively – this was a five-speed Getrag unit.

All this performance and exclusivity comes at a price. It starts from a minimum of 80,000 DM but most buyers will have to spend up to 90,000 DM at a time when the 328 GTS is just a few thousand more.

However, while Maranello built over 8000 Ferrari 328s in GTS & GTB guise, BMW handcrafted only 2241 E28 M5s – hence its unmistakable rarity.

Up close, in metal, it’s hard to distinguish the M5 from the regular version, it really is. Thank goodness for those M badges, so small and subtle because unless you take the highest angle under the bonnet, this car could easily be mistaken for a regular 5 Series with a body kit. Light kit is applied. M badges were easily redeemed during the day.

Its condition is simply amazing as this example gets a regular hit from all sorts of different drivers – some good, some bad, I suspect. Their maintenance is entirely the work of a team of BMW Classic fanatics, most of whom are younger than this M5.

There is a real simplicity to cars of this era, despite the fact that the M5 is considered very sophisticated and advanced, complete with a driver’s trip computer located to the right of the steering wheel.

Turn the appropriate old-fashioned key to the right of the steering column and you’ll get that high-speed starter motor noise before the straight six kicks in. Devoid of baby farts, bangs and squeaks, it’s impossible to mistake it for a working engine with delicate moldings.

I took care to increase the oil pressure and coolant temperature well and warmly before turning first and heading out of Munich to some quieter, greener pastures near the airport.

Naturally, you start with a bit of trepidation knowing how much effort the folks at BMW Classic have gone into maintaining these older machines. But obviously, that doesn’t mean you have to hang around.

I was watching one of the Classic men in his own carefully crafted E36 wagon, and he wasn’t worried. In fact, he’s pushing hard into some pretty serious corners on some not-so-crowded B-roads, so I happily respond by downshifting and starting full throttle.

It’s an engine that loves to rev but never seems to be under too much pressure even at the top of the rev range. Not lazy, mind, but will become stronger when rpm reaches 5000 rpm. It really is a great responsive tool.

Thanks to the naturally aspirated state, the throttle response is also effectively linear, to allow for minute-by-minute adjustments in power delivery, which was absolutely essential in my attempt to stay with the wagon. front 3 Series car.

Nor did he slow down. In fact, he didn’t even look in his rearview mirror. I don’t think he cares. My main driver type.

The M5 also has plenty of punch in all lower gears, but you’ll get the best out of its shifting later in the rev range, just before the torque curve flattens out. It didn’t have the rockets like so many cars these days but the progress was equally satisfyingly quick and wildly enjoyable.

The rack can be interpreted as old style and the distance between the gears is long, but it is still intentional. The speed of the car leading the front requires quick gear changes, but it’s not a box that can be muscular. Finesse works best here.

There’s obviously some inclination towards sharper turns, but it doesn’t seem to affect handling, so you tend to go harder and brake harder. You can really throw the old M5 around, as tested through the endless chicanes around these parts.

The chassis feels well graded and handles well given a modest 1430kg (by today’s standards).

The former teammate up front clearly has the ball in his wagon and pushes even harder (I think he’s trying to lose me) thanks to his enhanced suspension for good as much as M can provide. There’s no body rolling in that thing, even at speed.

The sound of the E28 M5 from the mid to high range is very good. Proper motorsport-derived engine building is happening here and still looks like business 37 years later, even though this particular example was one of the last, in 1989.

I’m peddling quickly as if I’m about to go in such a rare machine that I don’t own. To think that 33 years have passed and that it can still be appropriately developed in an unlimited style is incredibly impressive to me.

Ride comfort is also consistent, despite the M5’s enhanced suspension tuning. Honestly, I’ve driven cars today that don’t handle or drive as well as this car almost 40 years since it came out.

Some of that is due to the high-walled Micheline tires (series 225/55), while the rest is due to the more pleasant suspension tone of the day. It makes the driving experience less frenetic unless you’re making an effort like the guy in front.

The power steering system is also precisely tuned. Nice and meaty but there is a bit of play on either side of the straight line ahead. You get used to it pretty quickly but not without some shuffling and a bit of arm rotation sometimes given the size of a leather tiller.

It’s not exactly like today’s EPAS-equipped M cars, but I suppose there’s good feedback.

Interestingly, I also quickly got into the E39 M5, which is of course a more classified vehicle, but it doesn’t offer the sense of cohesion that the E28 offers.

Thank you BMW Classic for the opportunity to beat my E28 M5.





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