Most BMW 5 Series owners will be more than pleased with the performance of the 540i, with its 4.4-liter V-8 engine or one of the six-cylinder versions. For those who yearn for even more invigorating energy beneath the hood, BMW again offers the super-performing M5 sport sedan. This hot midlevel BMW four-door is fitted with a six-speed-manual gearbox and a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 394 horsepower.
Like all 5 Series models, the M5 has a rear-wheel-drive layout. BMWs Rear Head Protection System becomes standard for the 2003 model year. The navigation system has been upgraded to DVD-based operation.
With a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the M5 fits into the compact-car category by EPA interior-volume standards, but cars.com considers it a midsize model. The sedan measures 188.3 inches long overall, stretches 70.9 inches wide and stands 56.6 inches tall.
Subtlety is the hallmark of the M5 sedan. Except for special M-type body-colored bumpers, its appearance is similar to that of its less-exuberant 5 Series siblings, led by BMWs familiar twin-kidney grille. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a high-intensity headlight cleaning system, rain-sensing wipers and a moonroof are standard. A pressure monitor is included for the 18-inch tires. The special M-type suspension includes auxiliary springs.
Seating for five occupants is provided. Heated front bucket seats have 16-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar support. Sport interiors feature grained Nappa Point leather, while the Luxury interior gets ultra-soft Nappa Heritage leather. A 12-speaker audio system with cassette and CD players is standard.
Under the Hood
The M5 holds a four-cam, 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 394 hp and 368 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed-manual gearbox and heavy-duty clutch are standard. An automatic transmission is not available.
Dual-stage front airbags deploy according to crash severity and whether occupants are buckled up. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and BMWs Head Protection System which consists of curtain-type airbags that deploy to protect front-seat occupants are standard. Side-impact airbags are optional for the rear seats. Safety features also include all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system that BMW calls Dynamic Stability Control. Optional Park Distance Control detects obstacles to the front and rear of the car while parking.