BMW says the rear-wheel-drive M5 has "supercar handling" — though it's also promoted for "outstanding everyday driving qualities." When equipped with a seven-speed sequential manual transmission, the M5 can accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and can reach 120 mph in 15 seconds. This 500-horsepower sedan's competitors include the 435-hp Audi S6, the 469-hp Cadillac STS-V and the 507-hp Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. The sequential manual transmission incorporates Drivelogic, which offers 11 gear-change options.
Variable M differential locking is installed to deliver power to the wheel with the most traction, even in extreme conditions. The M-calibrated Dynamic Stability Control system has two driving programs available and can be deactivated. With a braking system adapted from the auto racing world, the M5 can brake from 62 mph to a standstill in less than 120 feet.
Sport sedan purists will be pleased to hear that the M5 can have a conventional six-speed manual transmission. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard, and the M5's navigation system gains real-time traffic information. Soft-close doors are available.
The M5 has a unique front face to distinguish it from other 5 Series sedans; the side sills are modified and the wheel arches are more prominent. Standard wheels measure 19 inches in diameter and hold Z-rated performance tires. The sedan has "M" gills in the front fenders, quad tailpipes and special rocker panels with a sharp accent line.
Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights with adaptive lighting are standard. The M5's specially calibrated aluminum suspension adjusts to driving conditions and operates with Electronic Damping Control, which offers three modes: comfort, normal and sport. Quickened power steering has two levels of power assistance.
New for 2008 is an optional high beam assist that will turn on the high beams automatically when necessary in low-light situations. Drivers can override the automatic system, however, and turn off the bright beams.
Heated M Sport front seats with 16-way power adjustment for the driver are installed in the Merino leather interior. MDrive lets the driver select preferred performance and handling settings for instant recall later. Brushed-aluminum interior trim is standard, but two types of wood can be specified instead. Park Distance Control, a navigation system and a Logic7 premium sound system are standard. A head-up display is optional.
Under the Hood
The M5's 5.0-liter V-10 — which has double-VANOS variable valve timing — generates 500 hp and 383 pounds-feet of torque. The V-10 drives a seven-speed sequential manual transmission with steering-wheel paddles or a conventional six-speed manual gearbox.
All-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and Dynamic Stability Control are standard. Rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional.