BMW. Fast. Sedan. Those words just flow together. And no other car personifies what BMW M stands for like the M5. The M3 might be more nimble, and the M8 more stylish, but nothing combines all of M’s key attributes like this king. Each generation has improved upon the last, and now we have reached the sixth iteration, known as the F90 M5. It was shouldered with a lot. The first M car (not SUV) with an automatic transmission, and the first with all-wheel drive. But don’t worry, it’ll still light your hair on fire. If you’re in the market for one, this buyer’s guide will help you sort through options, colors, LCI changes and more.
Understanding the BMW F90 M5
Start with my full review of a 2022 M5 here.
As always, we begin with POGs, or product ordering guides. While the F90 is still in production, its time with us is ending soon to make way for a hybrid version in generation seven.
You can have your M5 in base form or Competition variant. Available from 2018, the car is separated by pre-LCI years:
In 2021, BMW also produced the M5 CS for one year, a special edition that features unique touches to make it stand out from the pack.
What’s the difference between a base F90 M5 and an M5 Competition?
To the uninitiated, it’s hard to tell. Here’s what to look for. Compared to the base model, an M5 Competition has:
- 17 additional horsepower
- Unique 20-inch wheels (in three styles)
- Gloss black kidney grilles (compared to chrome)
- Black chrome tailpipes and black rear diffuser.
- Black badges and side gilles
- Front seat belts with M stripes
- M Shadowline lights. These make the headlight trim (the parts that don’t light up) black as oppose to bright chrome.
- An M Sport exhaust system that BMW M says is louder (I doubt you’ll notice a difference).
- A revised suspension tune that is 7mm lower than the base model.
- An additional $7,600 taken from your bank account
While the base model of the G80 M3 offers a stick, the M5 does no such thing. Since the car is already well over $100,000, it makes sense to go for the Competition model.
What’s the difference for an LCI F90 M5?
An LCI, or Life-cycle Impulse, is the time of life for every BMW when it goes through changes. Personally, I feel that the updated model is a significant improvement in looks, but both models are similar.LCI models will command a premium, and they offer:
- Revised headlight and LED taillight designs
- Revised front grille design
- Revised front and rear bumper design
- Larger 12.3-inch touch screen central information display.
- New shock absorbers and fully re-calibrated damper control system for Competition model.
- A revised digital dash that matches the one available in models such as the G80 M3.
- A new TRACK mode for M settings.
For 2022 models, a special BMW M 50th anniversary badge was made available as an option.
Are the BMW M5 and BMW M8 related?
Yes. Think of the relationship an M3 and M4 have, and you’ll get the concept here. An M8 is essentially a two-door (or in Gran Coupe terms, four-door) M5.
They share engines, transmissions, four-wheel drive systems, and the same basic goodness. The M8’s interior is more updated than the M5 because it came out later than the 5 Series the M5 is based on, and the coupe features a revised suspension tune to reflect its more sporting intentions, but this is a choice that basically comes down to looks. The M8 is more expensive new, though they seem to depreciate more based on auction results.
Some minor differences include the option of carbon bucket seats in the M8 that are only available in the M5 CS, and a more comfortable suspension tune in the M8 that was adopted for the M5 LCI.
What’s an F90 M5 CS?
Perhaps one of BMW M’s most special cars to come out of their Dingolfing plant within the last 20 years, the M5 CS was only available for a short run in 2021 as a 2022 MY, and it went above and beyond what a Competition model offered. The F90 M5 CS featured:
- A weight reduction of approximately 147 pounds.
- A carbon fiber hood
- Carbon fiber bucket seats from a G80 M3 with an outline of the Nurburgring in the headrests
- 10 more horsepower, for a total of 627, along with 553 lb-ft of torque
- Pirelli P Zero Corsa PZC4 tires as a no-cost option
- Revised damper tuning
- Special paint options
- Unique rear bucket seats
- Yellow DRLs
- Unique bronze wheels, bronze grille trim and bronze gills
- Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel
While the M5 CS was $143,995 when released, they were demanding much more. However, recently it seems the price has evened out to around MSRP.
I feel obliged to tell you that if it’s true driving enjoyment you seek, take a turn in a Cadillac CT-5 V Blackwing before purchasing an M5, especially a CS. It’s a truly special car that feels much more connected than an M5.
BMW M Performance Parts for the F90 M5
BMW offers a nice selection of parts from the M Performance catalog, including wheels and a carbon fiber front lip.
The F90 offers a robust Individual program, so you’re likely to come across something that isn’t a standard option color. The question of “Is Individual paint worth more?” is hard to answer. What’s it worth to you?
At this price point, standard color selections are free, even Metallic ones. Though the available colors change each year, in 2023 Tanzanite Blue, Aventurin Red, and Alvite Grey were an “Individual-lite” choice that adds $1,950 to the price.
F90 M5 Color Gallery
Where to find one, and the importance of doing a PPI
The F90 M5 is still available from BMW through October of 2023. Assuming this page lives on forever in the interwebs, you might be reading this after that.
Consider starting your search at the BMW dealer. Many F90s are still coming off lease, and you want to try and find the best example possible, maybe even still in warranty. Beyond that, look to Cars & Bids and Bring a Trailer. BMWs pop up all the time on those sites, and are almost always in good shape.
Regardless of where you find one, a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is critical. I will not sit here and write that BMW M cars are driven by angels, used solely for picking up baby from day care or taken out only on date night with your boo. I’ve been around hundreds of them, and while 90% are not abused, they are all driven hard.
Personally, I’d stay away from any modded car, especially one that’s tuned. You can do that yourself, and who knows just how much “’bout dat boost life” the previous owner was.
What’s a good price for a BMW F90 M5?
New M5s will almost always come with a markup, or very near sticker price. Do what you can to avoid an overage.
For used examples, I always recommend looking on BaT, which shows price history for the model: Bring a Trailer F90 M5 Search.
A low of just under $100,000, with most fetching well over that, means you should look to new if at all possible. Expect the F90 to come down as it ages, especially when a new M5 is released.
Moving on to Cars & Bids show something a bit different: Cars & Bids M5 search.
Some examples here are older, with more mileage, so a low of $57,000 seems more reasonable. But I’m not sure I’d take an F90 with that much wear on it, no matter how reliable they are. And yet…
Common problems with the BMW F90 M5
Dare I say that the F90 is one of the more reliable BMWs to date. There really aren’t many serious issues with the car.
Start here, with my story that explains the S63 engine in great detail. Even though it uses the same engine from the F10 M5, it’s been updated and refined to greatly enhance reliability.
Some recalls have occurred:
- May 16, 2018, 18V323000, Loss of Fuel Pump.
- July 17, 2018, 18V473000, Fuel Gauge may Read Higher than Actual Level
- September 27, 2019, 19V684000, No Back-Up Camera Display Image
- July 3, 2019, 19V513000, High Pressure Fuel Pump May Crack and Leak
- December 11, 2019, 19V883000, Transmission Wiring Harness Can Short
A good thread to look through is this one on Bimmerpost. But I can tell you that nothing major has happened. This M5 shares many components with the rest of the lineup, many of which have been around awhile. You no longer need to fear the Roundel.
Should I buy an F90 M5?
It’s one of the best BMW M models to come out in the past 20 years, and I don’t think you’ll find a more capable everyday driver. It’s extremely comfortable, faster than almost anything else, looks timeless, even gets decent gas mileage. The F90 M5 simply one of my favorite M cars ever.
No doubt, the new hybrid version will be even more capable, but the F90 will be looked upon more favorably than the F10 generation that came before it. Grab one and wave bye-bye to everyone on the road with the family in tow.
Want your car reviewed?
If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email!
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