The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2007 BMW M5 Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


2007 BMW M5 Review
Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

We all think we are pretty smart but when it comes to what is cool-leave it to the kids. Every time grandson Freddie comes to see us he will always make a detour first to see what is in the parking lot. If it meets with his approval he’ll race up the stairs with a huge smile on his face and instead of hello, how are you and all that he’ll simply say “can we please take this baby for a spin”.

It was most certainly the case with BMW’s 97 thousand dollar dream machine. It may become a museum piece as a result of European legislation but in the meantime it most definitely is a mechanical tour de force, the sort of car only very dedicated and talented engineers can create.

For a start it has a 5 liter V10 engine with an 8,250-rpm red line. It also has a button to increase power from 400 to 500 horsepower, something I’ve never come across before. Pretty amazing if you think about it.

Did I hit 155 miles per hour? Alas, no. Marin County may be beautiful and friendly most of the time but when it comes to driving at over 100 miles per hour the jail beckons. Were Freddie and I naughty? Of course, but just once.

Some desperately boring young man in a tuned Toyota (of all things!) wanted a drag race from the lights. Well, he got somewhat more than he asked for. I hit the power button for the extra 100 horses, watched the lights change and boooom! We were off. 1st, second, 3rd before I lifted off in order not to get a ticket and b. to look for the hero in the Toyota. He was so far behind we needed binoculars to catch sight of him. Imagine going through all 7 (!) gears at 7000rpm all the way to 155 miles per hour!

The M5 would of course go a lot quicker but there is a gentleman’s agreement among German automakers to keep the speeds down to 155. Very thoughtful of them really. Looking at it from their point of view with cars as brilliant as the M5 or the S class Merc or the Audi A8, crawling along at 70 miles per hour would be very frustrating indeed.

In fact even people in VW Golfs drift along at a steady 100 miles per hour on German autobahns. I had chats with several senior BMW executives on this topic. They’ve pointed out that in terms of overall CO2 emission we are talking fractions of 1%, their problem is that very fast cars are very visible. This one, as they say in show business will run and run.

Which cannot be said of the BMW M5 because 5 liter engines have their drawbacks as well. Namely fuel consumption. Driven hard you’ll be looking for the nearest pump after every 200 miles, which, if you are in Germany could mean every hour and a half! Mind you, that hour and a half would probably be worth it.

The brakes at a massive 14.7 inches diameter are some of the biggest in the business and they work like a charm.

The M5 does come with Dynamic Stability Control, which is standard but can be deactivated. Something I would only recommend to drivers who’ve been to high performance driving schools. It is not for the faint hearted or for anyone without much more than basic skills and reflexes.

If there is something to complain about it is the tendency of the car to lurch during gear changes unless one takes extreme care. This applies to the pedal shifts as well as to the SMG transmission which is a bit fiddly especially between R, N and D. Once mastered it is huge fun as is the Formula One like sound from the 4 exhaust pipes.

In fact BMW were hoping to cash in on their involvement in Grand Prix racing with their V10 configuration. When they designed the engine F1 cars still had V10 engines and the association would have been worth its weight in gold. Unfortunately the International Automobile Association decided that engines should be V8s and not V10s, much to the chagrin of the boys in Munich.

Still, they were too far down the road with the M5 and the result is probably the fastest genuine 4 seater automobile in the World. Yes, there are other fast cars but none can match the dynamic qualities of the M5.

For those aspiring to a 5 series BMW the 3 liter engine is perfectly adequate for 99% of the people. For the remaining – wealthy - 1% the M5 is something very special, especially on or near the limit. Oh, and preferably before lunch.