There are many reasons to love the 2013 BMW 5-Series, from its look to its feel to its sheer Bimmerness. But the best reason to love the 2013 5-Series is the M5.
Powered by a relentless 560-horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, the rear wheels help sling the nearly 4,400-pound super-sedan to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission, or 4.2 seconds with the seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission.
Speaking of transmissions, while we're as appreciative of the man-and-machine oneness of a good session of heel-toe downshifting on track as anyone, you're almost certainly better off with the dual-clutch unit. Why? Because not only is it easier in traffic and daily driving, it's better--and faster--on track. The gulf is widened by the fact that BMW M-DCT is a very good example of a dual-clutch, while its shifter on the six-speed is only a mediocre representative of its tribe. If you're truly a purist, get the six-speed, but don't say we didn't warn you.
Whichever transmission you choose, the 2013 M5 is a very fun car on track. Be sure to opt for the ceramic brakes, available early in 2013, however, if you're serious about going hard on a closed circuit: the standard brakes exhibit marked fade within a lap or two and the pedal can get alarmingly long after just 4-5 laps. On the other hand, the ceramic brakes (tested under identical circumstances on the M6, of similar weight and power) resist fade beautifully and even once fade has begun, don't rapidly descend into heat-soaked self-interrogations of "Is this car gonna stop?"
Handling and balance are very good out of the box, no doubt owing to BMW's knowledge of chassis design, suspension tuning, appropriate tire specification, and, despite the bulky 4,300-plus-pound weight, a balance of about 52/48 percent front-to-rear. The M5 might not be (almost certainly isn't) the fastest production sedan you could put on track, but it's one of the most fun.
With all of this focus on the go-fast-itude of the 2013 BMW M5, you might think it doesn't rate too well as a daily driver. You'd be wrong.
In fact, the 2013 M5 is every bit as good as its non-M counterparts on the street (which is to say, very good apart from a slightly cramped back seat). You really don't have to give up performance to get comfort, especially not with the adjustable suspension and drive program settings offered through BMW's electronics.
Add in a strong standard feature set, plenty of available extras, and you have what sounds like the perfect sedan. In many ways, it is. But--and this is a big but--the 2013 BMW 5-Series starts at $89,900 plus destination fees. If you can stomach that, and you're looking for a car that'll handle the family as well as the road, you might have found your match.
For the full details on the 2013 BMW 5-Series, including more on the 2013 BMW M5, check out the full review at The Car Connection.