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For 30th anniversary, BMW builds a trophy M5

About the author

Michael Taylor has been unleashing his clean-striking, slightly quirky views on new cars, news, personalities and features for more than 20 years. A former magazine editor and newspaper motoring editor, Taylor has been based in Italy since 2006 and is an avidly curious student of the world’s car industry.

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To enthusiasts of a certain age, acknowledging that 30 years have passed since the debut of the BMW M5 can be sobering. But the car, which pioneered an enduring sport-sedan archetype, is not slowing down for the pity party.

BMW has cooked up an anniversary-special M5 that is not just the most powerful M5 in history, but the most powerful car to ever wear the M badge.

With 600 horsepower being screwed out of the twin-turbo, 4.4-litre V8 engine, the rear-wheel-drive 30 Jahre M5 punches from a stop to 100kph (62mph) in a manufacturer-estimated 3.9 seconds, knee-deep in supercar waters.

Limited to a 250kph top speed, the 30 Jahre M5 takes the already impressive standard M5 output and adds 40hp, resulting in more than 136hp/litre. BMW claims it will also run across the standing kilometre in just 21.5 seconds.

BMW has fiddled with the engine’s management software and added even more boost pressure to the twin turbochargers, which sit abreast inside the engine’s vee angle.

The 30 Jahre M5’s maximum power arrives at 6,250rpm. It carries over the standard 516 pound-feet of torque, which arrives at just 1,500rpm and sticks around until 6,000rpm.

BMW’s M operation will only build 300 of the 30 Jahre M5 models – of which just 30 are bound for the US – with each scoring a numbered plaque on the passenger-side dash.

The car inherits the Competition Package’s suspension highlights, which include an active M Differential with its own control unit for faster reactions, as well as stiffer springs, firmer dampers, tighter bushes and thicker anti-roll bars. It also rides 10mm (.4in) lower than the standard M5.

More direct mapping for the electric-assisted steering’s Dynamic mode grants access to a less watchful stability-control system.

BMW has also given the 30 Jahre M5 a unique matte paint code, dubbed Frozen Dark Silver, and black chrome on the four exhaust tips, grille, door handle inserts and vents on the front quarter panels.

Further visual signifiers include two-colour M alloy wheels housing 265/35 ZR20 front tires and 295/35 ZR20 rear rubber.

Inside, 30 Jahre M5 badges dominate the door sills and are embroidered into four backrests, just to remind buyers what they paid $138,275 for – roughly $40,000 more than a Competition Package-equipped M5. Buyers in the US will also be treated to a one-day track session with instruction at the Thermal Club, a private track in Palm Springs, California.

Making use of 16 speakers is either a 600w Harman Kardon sound system or an optional 1,200w Bang & Olufsen setup.

The weight of the 30 Jahre M5 is unchanged from the standard version, still settling in at a hefty 1,870kg (4,123lbs), a far cry from the 1,430kg curb weight of the original M5 of 1985.

The 30 Jahre M5 may do little to defuse nostalgists’ allegations that the M5 has lost its way, but that should matter little to the 300 customers who take the plunge.