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Driving the BMW M5 can get very expensive. Let this slingshot loose on the highway — and be prepared to make a significant contribution to local law enforcement. Face it: This is a car made for speeding. The two-ton M5 sports a 394-horsepower V8 with plenty of torque. With a drive-by-wire accelerator, variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust, and a G-force-sensitive lubrication system to keep the engine wet during extreme cornering, the M5 is eminently qualified to get you into serious trouble. Take an advanced handling driving class before piloting an M5, and you’ll learn just enough to be wary of pushing this chariot to its limits. The M5′s six-speed manual transmission is exasperating in rush hour traffic, but it’s a real treat when you’ve got some open pavement in front of you. Even at high speeds, the M5 is rock-solid steady. If the throaty rumble of the dual exhaust reminds you that you are in a hot rod, the very fine sound system — controlled via the touch-sensitive GPS screen — goes a long way toward soothing jangled nerves. Cross the 100 mph threshold in the M5 — not that you would — and you’ll enter an almost surreal world of suspended animation where everyone else is moving in slow motion. The car is so extraordinarily powerful and stable at high speeds that you’ll feel like you’re cruising the boulevard at 35-40 mph. The M5 will lull you into complacency with a floating sensation as you catch and pass everything on the highway. It’s almost as though a special lane were opening up just for you. Although the M5 comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, Michelin Pilot Z-rated tires, 13.6-inch discs up front, and 12.9 inch discs in back, it’s still a vehicle for dry pavement in fair weather. In rain — or just on slick pavement — I was far less confident in this car than in the all-wheel-drive Audi A8. Even the most sophisticated electronic stability controls can’t repeal the laws of physics, and wet-weather handling is a marked downside to the everyday utility of the M5. But on sunny days, when it comes to sheer driving excitement in a car that’s comfortable, stylish, and understated, the M5 is one tough act to follow. STATISTICS: M.S.R.P.: $69,400 Price as tested: $72,070 Mileage: 13 city/21 highway Warranty: 3 year/36,000 miles free scheduled maintenance; or, with upgrade, 4 years/50,000 miles.

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