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Car Of The Week – E60 BMW M5 V10 5 Litre

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Wikipedia gives us the background on this  beauty.

The E60 M5 was introduced in 2005. It has a 4,999 cc (305.1 cu in) BMW V10 S85 engine redlining at 8250 rpm, and developing a peak output of 507 PS (373 kW; 500 bhp) and 520 N·m (380 lb·ft) of torque. Unlike some other BMW engines which utilise Valvetronic to infinitely vary valve lift to eliminate the throttle plate, this engine has individual throttle bodies per cylinder.

Other key features include a stiffened aluminum chassis and a 7-speed SMG III sequential manual gearbox, also known as a single-clutch automated manual transmission. Front fog lights are unavailable for the M5, as the amount of air required to cool the brakes under spirited driving applications requires the spaces under the bumper, normally occupied by fog lights in other E60 cars, to be reallocated for air cooling ducts.

Despite the criticism of the Chris Bangle-designed chassis, the difficult iDrive interface, and the lack of smoothness of the SMG III transmission, the E60 M5 was the most successful M5, despite being on the market for one year shorter than the E39 M5. During its five year run, 20,548 units were built composing of 19,523 saloons and 1025 wagons. 8800 were sold in the U.S., all of the sedan variety.

Great Britain and Ireland claimed 1776 examples, followed by BMW’s home market of Germany with 1647 units, and 1357 were sold in Japan. Italian enthusiasts claimed 512 units, and 339 examples were sold in Australia. This then is a reasonably rare sight on British roads,


The BMW M5, along with the E63/64 BMW M6, were designed to use the new Getrag SMG III single-clutch seven speed semi-automatic transmission. Gerd Richter, the head of BMW M, defended the decision to use a single-clutch sequential manual gearbox rather than a twin-clutch unit, saying “True, the dual-clutch system has a smoother automatic mode, and it performs seamless upshifts. For a 7-series, this may be the way to go. But an M car should always combine efficiency with emotion. That’s why there are six shift speeds to choose from, from velvet glove to iron fist. That’s why we cut the torque into seven slices. That’s why we added special features like a hill holder, a designated drive program for steep climbs and descents, and a downshift assistant, which briefly dips the clutch to avoid destabilizing wheel spin.” The SMG III transmission, while responsive at the track, has been criticized for its general lack of smoothness in everyday driving, and by 2010 it was considered outdated as most manufacturers were using dual clutch transmissions instead.

The M5 features several Formula One inspired engine and transmission controls. There is launch control which allows maximum performance standing starts automatically. The Getrag SMG III single-clutch semi-automatic transmission has the option of changing to either automated or manual, as well as the speed at which shifts are completed (there are 11 shift programmes in total forming what BMW calls Drivelogic). Manual shifting can be done with either a console shifter, or the steering wheel mounted shift paddles, both of which are fitted to all SMG M5s. The console shifter is the type used on manumatic transmissions; tipping it backward (toward the “+”) shifts up, while a forward tip (toward the “-“) shifts down. The shifter can be moved to the left to access neutral and reverse. The car also features a “power” button on the navigation panel (labeled “M”) which offers access to three modes: P400 (limiting the engine to 400 PS (294 kW; 395 bhp) for daily driving use), P500 (unleashes the full 507 PS (373 kW; 500 bhp)), and P500 S (for full power and sharper throttle response, selectable only from the “M Drive Settings” in the iDrive menu). P400 is the default start-up mode, the P500 modes are preselected using iDrive and then activated from P500 S using the “M” button.


The E60 M5 took the title of the most powerful midsize sport sedan when released, Along with direct competitors the Audi RS6 (C5) and the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, all three vehicles are quoted by their manufacturers to reach 0-to-62-mph in a time of 4.7 seconds.

  • 0-100 km/h (62 mph): 4.7s
  • (0-100 mph: 10.1s, Road & Track [2/06])
  • (0-60 mph: 4.1s, Road & Track [2/06])
  • Top speed: 250 km/h (155 mph) with electronic speed limiter
  • Power: 373 kW (507 PS; 500 bhp) at 7750 rpm
  • Torque: 520 N·m (384 ft·lbf) at 6100 rpm

EVO did  a road test of the M5 pitting it against the Lamborghini Gallardo. Below is an extract from the review.

And then, just to rub it in, as you see the corner open out and your right foot feels for the carpet once more, the Gallardo’s superior traction punches you onto the next straight with a vehemence the rear-drive M5 simply can’t answer. And that’s in the dry.

Does this make the M5 a bad car? Hardly. If you’ve never experienced what a real supercar is capable of, and you don’t have the funds to purchase one, the M5’s demented pace and animalistic cry are your passport to new and exotic territory. That it costs half the money, forces the Lamborghini to dig deep to save face, seats four in impressive comfort and possesses more high-tech hardware and electronic driver aids than a whole herd of Lamborghinis only reinforces its fearsome reputation as the world’s most accomplished supersaloon.

Ultimately, though, it’s physics that defeats the M5. That wailing M Power V10 comes close to challenging a few of old Sir Isaac’s Laws, but hurling an 1800kg saloon down the road at supercar-rivalling speed generates such gargantuan quantities of inertia that unleashing the V10’s full potential is tantamount to declaring war on the rest of the car. The outcome is inevitable, brakes and tyres succumbing to the onslaught, with deftness and delicacy the early collateral casualties in the battle to contain the M5’s rampant performance.

The M5 packs an engine every bit the equal of the Lamborghini’s, but even M Power’s spectacular fireworks can’t disguise the fact that while the Gallardo was born great the M5 has had greatness thrust upon it.

Thoughts from Beastie Folly

Yesterday an M5 appeared at Beastie Folly giving us a chance to try and make head or tail of the Evo viewpoint and the thoughts we had read on Wikipedia.

First let’s be clear about this, supercars – and this is one – don’t appear at Beastie Folly on a weekly basis as they do at Evo and such like. This makes it easier to impress us let’s be honest about that. Cutting to the chase then, yes we were impressed, very impressed.

The car is understated with a meaningful but still understated burble, hoof it though and you are rewarded with a beautiful symphony of sound, that whirls around your ears urging you to go faster. This was intoxicating. The BMW M5 comes packed with a Heads Up Display (HUD) that shows your speed, revs and gear in the windscreen fighter pilot style. Quite simply I loved this and when you can get to the speeds this car can do as quickly as this car does them, this feature was invaluable. The car has saloon qualities of comfort which can shelter you from what is going on and it is very easy to come onto a bend at 90 mph while feeling that you are doing 50. The HUD ensures that your speed is there for you to see without taking your eye off the road. Quite simply I thought this was brilliant and if anyone can now point me to where we can buy an aftermarket HUD let us know because suddenly we need one!

Let’s have a quick look at the negatives.

First, Wikipedia mention the “the lack of smoothness of the SMG III transmission”. Well yes, we have to be honest this was exposed in the afternoon we had to play with this car. Reversing can be frankly scary as there seems to be no way of delicatiely touching the throttle and I could see it being very easy to reverse this into a brick wall that would appear far quicker than it should!

Selecting automatic for the gears and pressing the M button was not a happy combination either. In M mode with the extra torque and horses available the power is more than the auto box can handle and it hesitates selecting the right gear for the job. More time with the car and paddle shifting while in M mode would doubtless sort this out, but nonetheless it is clear that at times it is hard for the transmission to tame the power of the V10!

Secondly, Evo refer to the “physics that defeats the M5. That wailing M Power V10 comes close to challenging a few of old Sir Isaac’s Laws, but hurling an 1800kg saloon down the road at supercar-rivalling speed generates such gargantuan quantities of inertia that unleashing the V10’s full potential is tantamount to declaring war on the rest of the car.” This results in a bit of a compromise. The car has supercar performance capabilities but the roads have to be the right roads for this and all too often  you can only utilise half of what the car can do, as the bend demands braking and hard wear on the tyres. This harks back to why I love the HUD, as the car’s saloon like refinement exacerbates this problem by disguising the speeds you are attaining, the bottom line is, you will need to back off for the corner!

Thirdly, there is no thirdly. That’s it they are the cars flaws, everything else is Larkin perfick, the toys and technology on this car shame all the supercars, the comfort is amazing and the punch is superb.


The flaws are there, but live with them, without those flaws you could be fooled into thinking this car was a Stepford Wife and think that for a minute and this car will bite you – hard! The combination of saloon car comfort and supercar performance is truly an intoxicating  cocktail, that will hook you every time you turn the key in this beast. Consider that these cars were the wrong side of £60,000 new but now can be bought for a sinful £20,000 and it becomes a very tempting beast indeed. Drive one and you wont be thinking about economy, car tax or running costs, you’ll be thinking about fast cars, fast women and cool watches. You’ll be rushing home to trawl the internet for available models. You will have moved out of the norm of your life and glimpsed a faster world that promises fun, excitement and danger!

Author: ibeastie

Interested in Photography, Watches, Style and Cars

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