If we look back at the 90s, we find a vast array of sporty sedans that showed us what was possible when you took a regular sports sedan and turned it up to 11.
Whether we look at Germany, the US, Britain, Italy, Japan, everyone was making something powerful, luxurious, and most importantly, faster than anyone could imagine.
This was a turning point in the automotive world where they became status symbols for the wealthy and allowed their owners to partake in oneupmanship against the Joneses.
The possibilities were endless, and with so many companies pushing out sports sedans, the competition was relentless.
On today’s Head 2 Head Today, I put two of the all time greats against each other in Forza 7 since I’m too broke to afford both in real life. Hailing from Bavaria, we find the 1995 BMW M5 (E34). A 3.8 liter roundel rocket that ended up being the last 6-cylinder M5 as well as the last BMW M car to be built entirely by hand. To date, it’s one of the most loved and sought after BMW M cars. (File to: Unnecessary Car Shopping with E90M3)
If there’s a car that always leaves me breathless whenever I see one, it’s the E34 M5. Although there have been much faster and more luxurious M5s since the E34, none capture the true spirit of the roundel as much as this one. The 3.8 liter S38B38 in the European one shown above produces a then-impressive 340 hp at with all of 300 lb. ft of torque.
The M5 hits 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and runs the quarter mile in about 14.2 seconds at 104 mph. Back then, that was fast by any standards.
Although the US market M5 had a third brake light (CHMSL), the European one wasn’t required to have one, so I just added the small spoiler with it because it was bothering me.
To me, it’s one of the most attractive cars of all time. It’s aged gracefully.
This one is equipped with the 17 inch M-Parallel wheels in lieu of the objectively better “Throwing Star” Style 21 wheels.
I also opted for Techno Violet Metallic, the best color next to Avus Blue Metallic and Calypso Red Metallic.
The 1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton, also known as the Opel Lotus Omega on the continent, became a cult classic in 1989 when Lotus partnered with European GM brands Vauxhall and Opel. They took a regular Vauxhall Carlton (Opel Omega) and stuffed a twin turbocharged 3.6 liter inline-6 under the hood sporting an astounding 377 hp and 420 lb ft. of torque. Those numbers made the M5 look like a 525i at the time. (Cue “It’s Not Unusual”)
You could get it in any color your heart desired, as long as that color was Imperial Green Metallic. Although it looks like a lovely dark green (think Boston Green) in the light, it looks black when not in direct sunlight.
It retains the conservative, boxy styling of the car upon which it’s based.
The best part of the Carlton? It’s a true sleeper. If it weren’t for the Lotus badges, you’d be fooled into thinking it’s a regular 1.8 liter 4-cylinder Carlton.
It hit 60 in only 4.9 seconds and ran the quarter mile in only 13.6 seconds at 110 mph.
I lapped both around COTA’s GP circuit with their respective assists as they would be in the real world, and these are the times they put down.
1995 BMW M5 (E34) (6MT) -02.42.007
1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (6MT) -02.37.462
Although the Carlton puts up an excellent fight to the BMW, I’d take the E34 hands down at the end of the day. Both are excellent cars, but the E34 M5 feels and looks that extra bit more special.
And now it’s time for the Dougscore.
Reposted because I added lap times upon E90M3’s request.