2012 BMW M5

Once upon a time there was a car, it was a fast car. This car went around, what is considered by many sports car aficionados the most demanding race track in the world, the fastest out of any car in its class (7:55). Is it a big deal? To some it is. No, I am not trying to rehash the lousy script from Pixar ‘s Cars 2 here. We are discussing the most recent car to lap the ‘Ring as the fastest sedan (unofficially mind you). That car is the all new BMW ///M5 super sedan.

Lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife is no small feat at any decent speed as those that have tackled the course will tell you. At just shy of 13 miles and over 150 turns it is demanding to say the least (it truly is the “Green Hell “.) Only the top driver ‘s in racing who are familiar with the turns, changes in tarmac (concrete to asphalt), and overly harsh conditions have a chance at a “perfect ” lap. That is in part why I have such a tough time digesting claims as the fastest car, or even that the lap times matter in the grand scheme of what a car represents, more specifically an ///M car. There is so much more to a lap on such a track than just the car. The driver, tires, weather and track conditions (if it hasn ‘t rained in a while, the track is greasy from all the build up) are just a few of the many extraneous variables that impact the overall outcome and time of a lap.

BMW has never officially come out and announced an “official ” time of a production car around the ‘Ring (that I am aware of), because in reality they could care less about the actual time as a marketing element. BMW and ///M (even more so) use the ‘Ring as something to compete with- they want to build the best car they can to consistently and reliably tackle the demands of the course while at the same time make speed and handling improvements along the way. They essentially race against themselves internally.

The new ///M5 has had significant modifications made under the hood (S63Tü- technically updated) when compared to the sister engine the base S63 ///M engine found in the X5/X6 ///Ms. What is interesting is that these new tweaks did not produce all that more horsepower or torque but increased efficiency. That ‘s right folks, BMW ///M opted to improve efficiency rather than all out performance around a race track. If lapping a track the fastest meant so much to them, the engineers surely would have used all that newly found breathing capacity to improve top speed and torque to get around that track as fast as possible. Since the numbers stay in house and are not used for marketing (at least not yet) it is not hard to believe that the famed track in Germany is really just a tool to develop some of the best cars in the world that also happen to be some of the fastest.

On the other hand there is Cadillac. While I will give the CTS-V some serious credit as being an all around great car, they flashed around the “Ring King ” title for a long while (even after the Porsche Panamera beat it). So much so that every faster time will just put the CTS-V down another peg. That is why lap times really don ‘t matter. Cars get faster and what was once the king is now just a pauper. In the end the ///M5 will be a more refined car, a car with more feel and a car with the ability to change roles- sedate sedan to menacing marvel at the press of a steering wheel button. It also happens to be faster than the competition. Does it get better than that? I doubt it, but I just hope that BMW and ///M continue to design cars to be the best rather than just the fastest as there is a lot more to building a great car than speed. So don ‘t get caught up in the lap time hype as it takes over the web even though it is easy to do.

What makes BMW special in the end is that no matter what is under the hood (be it a 16d or a 30i) the handling composure and the enjoyment of the drive will still be there even though the lap times will be in different realms. To me that is what it is all about.