A few of my readers might have read my recent article about the BMW E46 and how it has gone down in history (especially the E46 M3) as one ofhe most iconic premium compact cars in modern times. A few realize though that the concept and design for the E46 M3 actually spun out of the equally iconic E39 M5 - the world's best selling premium sized performance sedan.
Manufactured by BMW's M-Divison, the M5 is BMW's midsize premium performance sedan and the Bavarian auto manufacturer's answer to the Mercedes AMG E-Class or Audi's S6/RS6.
The original M5 was born in the 1980s when BMW decided to mount the 3.5 liter straight 6 engine from the BMW M1 into the E28 535i - This first M5 was essentially handbuilt and to date remains one of the rarest M-division cars that BMW has ever made (along with the 850CSi and M1).
Since then though, the M5 has become practically the leader of the pack consisting of premium size high-performance saloons and has more or less been considered the bench-mark for other cars manufactured in this class.
Viewed by many auto experts as the ultimate 'executive express', the M5 has been rebooted 5 time since its birth, with the current incarnation being produced off the new F10 platform.
It should also be noted that with the exception of the E28 M5, all future M5's (including the F10) are built at BMW's factory near Regensberg in Germany (The E28 M5 was built in South Africa).
While the first M5 was conceived in 1980 and produced in 1985, many fans believe that the modern M5's DNA can be traced back to the E39 M5 (just as many 5 series owners believe that the E39 was and still is perhaps the best modern 5 series produced).
The E39 M5 essentially did away with the boxy look of the outgoing E28 in 1997 and was technologically a huge leap ahead (even when compared to the Mercedes E Class of the time).
With a very sporty and hunkered down stance along with big 20 inch rims and at 4.7 m length, the E39 M5 was indeed a fiery car on the track and packed quite a punch even on the streets.
By the year 2001, some cosmetic upgrades and facelifts saw the E39 M5 come equipped with gizmos which very few cars of the time saw even within the luxury segment - including DVD Based Navigation System, dual subwoofers, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system and Xenon headlamps (which were originally introduced on the E38 7 Series in the world) - The E39 M5 was also revolutionary in the sense it introduced an open-frame computer-setup which allowed enthusiasts to purchase an E39 and then retrofit it with current on board technologies including Ipod Interfacing, Navigation and even Bluetooth (The adaptive computer environment called the IBUS, became standard on the then new E46 3 series).
The E39 was mated to a 4.9 Liter V8, producing 291 KW of power and the last M5 to be available with a 6 speed manual gearbox (The E60 and F10 were offered only with a semi-automatic setup with paddle shifts) and was able to sprint from 0 to 100 KPH in 4.7 seconds, making it the fast production sedan back then.
To this day, along with the E46, the E39 M5 has gone down in history as an automotive classic (both in design and performance) and in future years to come, they will without a doubt belong in every car collector's garage.
BMW M5 (E39) Review
The current and 6th version of the BMW M5 was launched in 2011 when the Bavarian car-maker stopped production of the outgoing E60 M5 in 2010 - The E60 was the most powerful and successful M5 ever produced (with a 5 L V10 delivering 370 KW of power) and sold well in most major car markets (with Australia receiving in excess of 300 units). The E60 M5 was also the only one to date which shared the same engine platform as that used on the BMW-Sauber F1 team.
When the F10 M5 was launched in 2011, it was expected to outrank the E60, which it did when it came to its gearbox and accelartion - Mated to a twin turbo 412 Kw 4.4 Liter V8 engine (as against the race inspired 5 Liter V10 on the E60 M5), the F10 M5 is easily able to go from a standstill to 100 kph in under 4 seconds despite it being significantly heavier and even longer. In fact, the F10 M5 is 4.9 meters nose to tail and as such this makes it the longest 5 series ever produced.
Despite the turbos, the F10 M5's engine note is less profound as against the E60 M5 and BMW's somehow managed to play an artificial engine noise via the car's speakers - this has not been met with universal acclaim from die hard fans. The looks of the F10 M5, in my own opinion too, have its issues - it looks more 'sophisticated' as against the E39 and E60 whch might work in an ordinary 5 series but then that sort of defeats the purpose of building a fire breathing super saloon where it needs to look as brash as it behaves on the road. Having said that, the F10 M5 is still the fastest production sedan in its class and still holds a legacy of its own which will be here to stay.