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The greatest BMW M5 ever: The moderns

2 weeks ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


9 July 2024

The dividing line between what we regard as the classic M5s and the moderns was not difficult to find. Even were it not so obvious, I guess we’d have still split them down the middle to provide two tests of equal numbers; but in the end a purely chronological separation was not needed. Because between the last of the classics, the V8-powered E39 and the first of the moderns, the V10-propelled E60 was a yawning 105bhp gap.

Never before, or since, has an M5 seen its engine output rise by anything like so much. In that moment the car some say was the original supersaloon (not me, I hasten to add), became something closer to a supercar in saloon form.

But there were the pedals too: yes you could get manual E60s and F10s in North America but to most people living most places in the world, before the E60 all M5s had stick shifts, thereafter it was always paddles.

So we start with the E60 and, let’s be honest, it’s hard not to see it as a powertrain with a car attached to it. The Chris Bangle styling was controversial at the time but has aged well, at least to these eyes, but when we first drove it almost 20 years ago, all we really wanted to do was see what that bonkers engine might do for the M5 brand.

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