When you buy a driver these days you are probably expecting it to be at the legal limit, but you would be wrong.
The tolerances in manufacturing and face polishing mean that manufacturers have to leave a margin for error when making their faces thin to ensure they guarantee to stay within the rules.
This means you are likely to get a face that is slower than the 0.83 COR limit. Maybe you will get lucky and get a hot face that is near the limit, but usually these versions are siphoned off to their tour players.
However with the M5 and M6 drivers TaylorMade aim to resolve the situation by making all their faces illegal and then dialling them back to the right side of the law by Speed Injecting the face with resin into two “circles of speed” in the front of the face.
The resin stiffens the face to make it less flexible, a bit like tightening a trampoline to reduce the bounce by holding it in certain places. Each head is individually measured when it comes off the production line and then the information is sent in real time to TaylorMade's computer in the cloud. Here it is analysed and the results returned with the amount of resin needed to be injected in the heel and or the toe port to get the face back within the rules.
The maximum amount of resin that goes in is 2g, but it could be nothing or anything in between depending on the amount required. In order to keep the head weight the same the right amount of hot melt is added internally.
So does it work? Well I took the M5 driver on GC Quad against the previous TaylorMade M3 driver and low and behold I did manage to gain an extra 1.9mph ball speed at around 100mph swing speed.
This means that the previous M3 head could be above average as TaylorMade would expect the optimised M5 face to be around 2mph faster on average, so there could be some larger gains out there if you have a slower than average face.
The Hammerhead 2.0 slot now only has one supporting bar thanks to the Speed Injection set up and should therefore help with ball speed on off centre hits too.
The face itself is optimised to be 20% thinner around the edges and 3.4g lighter to make it faster and this results in a sweet spot that is 66% larger.
The Twist Face first seen in the M3 is back in the M5 driver and this involves varying the bulge and roll of the face to influence the spin and direction of the ball on mis-hits to make it go straighter if you stray from the middle.
Like before it is quite hard to see the extra loft in the high toe and the lower loft in the low heel, but the results can be seen if you hit enough balls as I showed in my review of the first Twist Face in the previous models.
The M5 face is a little deeper than the M3 and a nice detail is that the circular markings are actual cut in grooves rather than laser etched like the rest of the lines. So when the club is at address they are the ones you see and it frames the ball very well which is a nice touch.
The sole still has two sliding 10g weights in the ‘Inverse T-Track’, which basically means that the horizontal track is now at the back instead of the front as it was in the 2017 M1 driver.
The two weights can go anywhere they like as there are no fixed positions, so TaylorMade are claiming 1,770 possible CG settings per loft and the adjustable hosel has 7 options across +/- 1.5º. Good luck working them all out, but at least there is going to be lots of choice.
Moving the weights front and back will vary spin by around 600rpm and TaylorMade claim putting them in the draw and fade positions will vary shape by 25 yards left to right.
Putting the weights in the extremes does do the job, but it also changes the sound and the balance of the club, so unless you really need it, then going halfway to draw or fade will be enough to give the desired effect whilst keeping the feel.
The M5 sound was more solid and lower pitched than the M3 so I would say that it is an improvement, not that the M3 is that bad.
The M5 look at address is cleaner with a thinner top line than the M3 and a little known fact is that it sits 1.5º open in order to give the visual impression that it is square, so I hope that doesn’t put all you faders off.
If you want go faster then there is a smaller 435cc Tour version of the M5 driver that will move around 1mph quicker through the air, but you may sacrifice a little forgiveness, so this is probably more for elite high speed players.
TaylorMade M5 Driver Verdict
Compared to the TaylorMade M6 driver, the M5 is the more adjustable one and the more expensive.
The M5/M6 models are closer together on spin than the previous M3/M4 so really the choice is going to come down to whether you need the benefits of the adjustable weights and this is really only going to be confirmed during a fitting like the one I went through.
The M5 driver is offering maximum adjustability for those players who need more fine tuning than you get with M6. Like before it is probably the go to option for faster swing speed players who need to reduce spin.
However for the first time the non-adjustable head that is the M6 in this range was more of an option than before for my above average swing speed because the spin was less, so that may be an option for you too.
That means the extra £50/$50 on the price is for the sliding weights if that benefits your game, particularly if you have a shot shape you want to get rid of.
The Speed Injected face is an upgrade on the speed of the M3 and certainly older models. The sound is a little more solid and the looks are an improvement, especially the thinner top line and the circle on the face.
It's expensive, but I would still say that the M5 driver is worth the money as you have a driver that has a face optimised by TaylorMade, that you can then optimise for yourself using all the adjustable options.