These days, you can’t finish a sentence mentioning the quickest productio… it’s the Tesla Model S Plaid with its 1,020 hp and its 9.2s quarter-mile time. Then there’s the Lucid Air Dream Performance, a lavish living room with 1,111 hp which isn’t that much slower. And while these EVs usually race among themselves or face highly modified ICE (internal combustion engine) machines, we’re here to put their velocity might into perspective by comparing them to the four-door yardstick from two decades ago, the E39 BMW M5.
Built between 1998 and 2003, this Bimmer was the first (and last) M5 with a naturally aspirated V8. And while the 400 hp and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of the S62 motor might not seem that much nowadays, it was enough to give the Bimmer the saloon crown back in the day.
So, how do you compare these four-doors in the quarter-mile without making the modern classic German seem like it’s standing still (heck, the Lucid Air even had this sort of effect on the mighty Porsche Taycan Turbo S).
For starters, the BMW has a single engine, while the Tesla and the Lucid each pack no less than three (the Porsche only has two, hence the said situation). That comparison doesn’t seem to make too much sense, so how about choosing a different route?
The M5 cheated (more than) a bit
Let’s say nobody told the M5 driver this was supposed to be a standing quarter-mile? So, while the EVs set off from a dig, the BMW crosses the starting line while doing 70 mph (113 km/h) in third gear.
To avoid any spoilers, all we can tell you is that the situation at the finish line is dramatic. Oh, and by the way, the battle is narrated by Jason Cammisa, with this shenanigan coming from insurance specialist Hagerty.
Among others, the video also shows us how the Bavarians advertised the E39 BMW back in the day. However, we prefer a different commercial to the rocket car ad shown here. And you’ll find the (probably familiar) ad, which shows Clive Owen chauffering Madonna down back seat shuffle avenue, in the second YouTube clip below.
Things aren’t that simple outside the straight-line scenario
Of course, the electric AWD duo doesn’t come anywhere near the RWD E39 M5 in terms of the engagement provided by the driving experience. And, in case you’re wondering, you can buy one of these for around $35,000 these days. However, a mint-condition, low-mileage 2001 example traded hands for $125,000 on Bring a Trailer back in January this year, which happens to put it in the same ballpark as the battery-powered rivals it faces in this fight.
However, while the American EVs aren’t exactly a threat to E39 M5 sales, things might not be as simple when talking about the next-gen M5 (2024), even if we’re still talking apples-vs-oranges here.