As the search for Lady Holiday’s Ultimate Road Trip grand touring car continues (read: we hope to find a 2013 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG with P30 AMG Performance Package in black on black out there), my Mr. has begun searching for an alternative option in the event that the exclusive Merc is unavailable.

Enter the 2013 BMW M5.

Combining their best of sport performance and luxury, BMW’s 2013 M5 is one of the more sophisticated options of its fleet and if you’ve wanted one in the last two years BMW didn’t make one. The all new 2013 BMW M5 comes with plenty of updates: new twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine, which boosts its horsepower from 500 to 560 and torque leaps from 383 to 501-lb-ft. With its athletic spike BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” is not only a rocket launcher (0-60 in 3.7 seconds), but it’s 30-percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor—14 City/20 Highway MPG. Despite this improvement it unfortunately still incurs a gas guzzler tax ($1,300). For me BMW is more sporty than luxury and the M5’s interior reflects that conclusion. Our test-car had an optional black merino leather interior ($3,500) and the Executive Package ($5,500), which includes luxury features like heated steering wheel, comfort access keyless entry by tapping on the handle, and 4-zone automatic climate control.

On a test drive the stud shows off by way of its new seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (DCT). Flooring the speedster, Mr. could hear the gears shift, but from within the rocket all four passengers agreed it’s a smooth sailing, silent killer. So quiet, in fact that BMW pumps an orchestrated exhaust-note into the speakers. I don’t care if it has standard stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes and sensors that can recognize rain and automatically squeeze the brake pads and wipe the brake rotors dry (which the Benz has too, mind you)—amplified exhaust in the speakers sounds like a closer for newly graduated jocks. No thanks.

Nonetheless, the updated M5 has new brakes, an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, a sharper front spoiler, larger air intakes, chrome-trimmed vents in the front fenders, a sleeker rear spoiler and larger exhaust pipes. The optional Driver Assistance Package ($1,800) includes side-and-top-view cameras with night vision, lane-departure and blind spot warnings. The Asian Lady Driver in me understands this as BMW warns me of potential collisions, while Mercedes-Benz actually prevents the crash. The idea of having a car that can practically drive itself and prevent collisions sounds like a futuristic fantasy experience to me.

To be fair, I’ll conclude. Mr. loved the Head-Up dash display, which projects colored, digital real-time driving information (such as speed limits and navigation), “Like a video game!” he exclaims. For $89,900 MSRP I rather spend a little extra for Mercedes-Benz’s optional Distronic Plus with Pre Safe Brake. You wont get extra lives like in a video game, but you’ll certainly have the peace of mind that you may save a few should a collision occur.

Most reviewers of the M5 express a distinct feel of the pavement through the steering wheel, which seems to please those newly graduated jocks. But according to Mr., “It’s not so much the road you feel, but more like something’s off-balance. When you turn you feel a cluck, cluck, cluck.”

“Like an arcade race-car video game?” I ask.

“Exactly,” Mr. replies.

And keeping up to its video game persona, the M5 is super geeky with multiple button combinations offering a gazillion different performance-based driver settings. If that’s your thing then it’s probably one of the finer beasts on the road right now. But, for the Ultimate Road Trip, Lady Holiday has to admit her bias to Mercedes-Benz—their unprecedented level of performance, technology, safety, and luxury features just don’t stand up to BMW. All I can think is new-grad-jock. But, if you enjoy having control of the machine the 2013 BMW M5 is your joy ride.

Our Test Car:

  • 2013 BMW M5, MSRP $89,900
  • Black merino leather interior, MSRP $3,500
  • Driver Assistance Package MSRP $1,900
  • Executive Package MSRP $5,500
  • 20″ M light alloy wheels MSRP $1,300
  • Bang & Olufsen sound system MSRP $3,700
  • Net Total MSRP $105,800 
  • Destination MSRP $895
  • Gas Guzzler tax $1,300
  • Total Suggested Price $107,995
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