“BEHIND THE WHEEL”, A SERIES
BMW M5 REVIEW: A travel through space and time: Part I
The 2008 BMW M5 sports sedan has been the center of multiple spec reviews since its introduction in 2004. Our goal in this review is to relay to you our reader the experience one “feels” when driving this automobile. Commonly referred to by the “in” crowd as body style “E60 M5” this 4 door stealth demon has much more to offer the enthusiast than what appears on the outside. With the sculptured shape of the standard 5 series along with some perfectly placed body effects, this car takes on a whole new meaning once you are behind the wheel.
First of all, the M offers every imaginable convenience, safety and performance feature fascinatingly combined into the same vehicle with the irony that one would see in a pro basketball player that’s also perfectly at home on the golf course. From its plush leather seats with alcantra headliner to its finely machined buttons, switches and screens all designed to make your experience in “M” space a memorable one.
From its exquisitely appointed interior to its hidden power plant that reminds one of the thrust of Tom Cruises F16 in Top Gun, this car was meant to please from the ground up. With the ability to go from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and still take 4 adults very comfortably to dinner and a play, you have to ask yourself how is this possible? I mean really can you have the best of both worlds? The cabin is quiet, the engine roars and all the while you feel comfortable and secure like a Faberge egg in a leather lined bank vault. This car is so solidly built that it makes one question why all cars can’t be built this way.
As I got into the M5 I noticed a feeling of euphoria and reminiscent memories of my old 2000 (E39) M5 invading my thoughts. My over six foot frame melted into the interior with plenty of room to spare. This new M5 seemed similar, but yet was somehow different, oh so different. What’s this behind the steering wheel? Paddle shifters from an F1 formula car? And where the shift selector is, a seven speed SMG (sequential manual gear) transmission that allows effortless city driving in fully automatic mode. Or complete manual gear control assisted by the silky smooth electronic hidden clutch. This SMG lets the driver shift faster then you can say Google.
The V10 engine started up like the purr of a well-fed kitten and with a little push to the pedal the power and torque erupted into the lion that hides beneath the beautifully shaped hood and grill. I was astonished at the 383 lbs. of torque that pressed me back into possibly the best-designed seats I have ever sat my undeserving rear in. As I came to a stop sign on a 1% incline, I noticed the cars uncanny ability to feel exactly like I was in a manually shifting car like a Porsche 996 even down to the slight “roll back” one feels when riding the clutch.
The ride was so comfortable and the car tracked like it was on rails at the Space Mountain Disneyland ride. How is it possible that I could corner so effortlessly, so flat, yet feel as if I was being caressed in a cocoon of sumptuous luxury that normally one would feel from riding in a fine British motorcar?
With each millimeter of down pressure from my foot, the car seem eager to respond as if to say “its just you and I now with this great stretch of highway ahead”. The further the drive the better, because that means we have to drive all the horrible way back in this incredible synergentic blend of the perfect automobile. Every road bump and pot hole that our innocuously damaged Los Angeles streets and highways had to offer was sucked up and translated into solid comfortable feedback with little disdain for comfort. The electronically adjustable ride dampening system had done its job. Did I mention that this is one solidly built car?
Where else on the planet can you take four of your best pals and zoom into warp drive with as little effort as pressing the hyper drive button on your X-Box’s Need for Speed game? I took one passenger with me as a witness to the comfort and exhilaration from the passenger’s perspective and to point out any salivation that might have spilled from my jaw dropping expressions onto this otherwise immaculate interior. Although we never took the car past the posted speed limit (err we’re not supposed to do that right?) the torque curve never once let up from entering the freeway at 15 mph to quickly rising to uh 65 mph. At least that’s what speed I “thought” we ended at, err yea that’s right 65!!!
The car offers a special option that can only be compared to the cockpit of an X Wing fighter from Star Wars…..a completely visible Heads Up Display that projects your current speed, gear and RPM’s on the windshield directly in front of your view without obstructing the road ahead. The HUD not only tells you exactly when to shift (flashing symbol in manual mode) it also shows navigation directions and other critical info. The display is so perfectly readable in bright daylight and evening that it could be looked upon as a guardian angel safely relaying critical up to the microsecond data while allowing the pilot, I mean driver to keep their eyes focused. You never know when a small wandering creature might innocently enter the path and force the driver to engage the instantly stopping massive 16-inch drilled ventilated brakes. Was this test drive real, or was I dreaming of being in the cockpit of a Gulfstream G550 viewing its million dollar Honeywell heads up display?
As I shifted the SMG transmission into manual mode I felt like Luke Skywalker manually navigating his fighter deep into the heart of the Death Star. Had I gone too far? Will I ever return from my journey, shifting about like a rookie NASCAR driver? As luck would have it, the cars response, feel, and audible feed back were so perfectly delivered I knew exactly when to shift by listening and watching my floating angel ahead of me. The engine responded to my every push and pull of the SMG like the precision buttons on a fine Swiss double chronograph watch. It was awesome, perfect and nothing like I had ever experienced before.
But there was something missing from my experience, a void that I couldn’t place my finger on. It was like I was imagining deja vu although vicariously inspired. And then it hit me. Right before my eyes, below the level of the heads up display and residing on the perfectly machined shifting console was the M power button. I remembered reading about this special “use only in emergency situations” button that would take the normally fuel injected 400 hp beast and transform it into a 510 hp intergalactic time travel machine. As I stared down at the button I thought to myself what would happen if I pressed it? Would I be instantly tele-ported to another place like in the movie Jumper? Would I be fined $25k for pressing the button and then being rescued somewhere afar like someone accidentally pulling the antenna out on their Breitling Emergency Watch? Will the authorities know I have pressed the button? Are the Pre-Cogs watching?
The temptation to engage was so great, but as I started to reach down to press “It”, scenes from my early childhood flashed before me, and thoughts of my friends and loved ones looking for me in other dimensions retracted my hand. I once again grasped the steering wheel with happy content to have experienced this interstellar machine in normal power mode. This car offers so much more then my simple driving capabilities could ever encompass. Maybe for my second encounter, and after I have said goodbye to loved ones, I may consider revisiting the lingering temptation to, as Professor Fate in the feature film the Great Race would say “Push the button Max!!!”
Stay tuned for Part 2, an in-depth warp-drive “M-Power” button engaged review.
Post your experiences, comments or thoughts on the spectacular M5.