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BMW 5-Series M5 engines, drive and performance

2005 - 2010 (change model)
Performance rating: 5 out of 55.0

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The mighty 5.0-litre V10 in the M5 delivers 507bhp and huge amounts of torque – in theory it is capable of 200mph but in the UK all models are restricted to 155mph. For an extra cost it is possible to have this raised to 190mph but there seems little point. Because where the M5 really impresses is in it’s delivery of all that power. Traction is never a problem and despite being rear-wheel drive (where alternatives like the Audi RS6 are four-wheel drive) it puts down its power impeccably.

In fact, in everyday driving the M5 has a relaxed nature and is easy to drive – just like any other 5-Series. On start up, the M5 only runs at 400bhp (which is quite enough for most) but press the Power button beside the gear lever and the maximum performance is made available – this also sharpens the throttle response and steering. 0-62mph comes up in just 4.7 seconds – the Touring is a mere tenth of a second slower.

The only transmission available is the seven-speed SMG (which stands for Sequential Manual Gearbox). This features no less than eleven different gear change patterns – six settings vary the speed and response of the gear change in manual mode and five in the automatic mode. The sixth, and fastest, setting in the manual mode is reserved for the Launch Control function to help deliver the fastest possible acceleration from standstill.

Thanks to a rear-wheel drive set-up and an even weight distribution between the front and rear, the M5 is superbly balanced and offers huge amounts of grip and excellent traction out of slow corners. The brakes are superb but that doesn’t mean the M5 feels like a small sports car – you’re always aware you are driving a heavy saloon (or Touring). It’s still very agile though (which is very impressive when you take into account it’s weight) and hugely involving to drive with responsive, meaty steering combined with minimal body roll.

The M5 also features a three-stage traction control system called Dynamic Stability Control. One push of the DSC button activates the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) mode which provides a more sporting drive by allowing a level of controlled wheel slip. A further, longer, push of the button completely disables the system.