It can be said that the last decade was the golden era for the automotive fraternity. During the years we saw the birth of an extremely diverse set of cars. Analog cars like the Porsche Carrera GT and extremely advanced cars like the Bugatti Veyron graced the pavement. The E60 M5 was one among them.

The E60 replaced the aging E39 5-series and in the mid 2000s, BMW decided there was a need for a 500 horsepower executive sedan. Performance sedans did exist back then but what made the M5 special was when BMW decided to dump a V10 in it. We are living in a time where downsizing and electrification is becoming mainstream. With strict emission rules being imposed, manufacturers have to comply in order to please the regulatory agencies. We are thankful for the very few remaining monikers that still embrace V8s, V10s, and V12s.

Today, no mass market manufacturer would even think of putting a V10 in a car let alone a sedan. The E60 M5 befits the expression “As mad as a bear with a sore head”. With extremely understated looks and a V10 inside, the E60 M5 fits the bill as one of the best sleeper cars out there!

Engine: The M5's USP

BMW E60 M5's S85 V10 engine

Let’s talk about the focal point of an E60 M5, it’s engine. Since the 1980s, BMW has been active in Formula One as an engine supplier to various other teams. They were famed for their performance and sophistication. Many moons later, during the development of the F1, Mclaren wanted an engine with a proven racing pedigree. This led Gordon Murray to choose a BMW V12 as the F1's powerhouse.

Inspired by their success over the years, BMW developed the 5.0-liter V10 for the E60 M5 and the E63 M6. It used dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder with VANOS variable valve timing system. BMW offered a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed automated SMG transmission. The E60 saw the introduction of BMW’s first and only production V10 power plant. Dubbed the S85, the 90-degree V10 churned out 500 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The numbers don’t seem a lot in this day and age of forced induction motors but the S85 revs to 8,250 rpm!

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It Has Aged well

BMW E60 M5 has aged well
Via: AustralianCar.Reviews

What defines a sleeper car is its looks and the E60 M5 cuts right in. The unusual yet quirky headlights did raise a few eyebrows to be honest. Unlike M5s of yesteryears, it made the E60 stand out with a bold and distinctive character. The kidney grilles do look a lot better in these proportions unlike ones on the recently leaked M4. There are no canards or splitters sticking out and the front end looks clean and understated. From the sides, it’s hard to distinguish a E60 5-series from an M5 if not for the rims. The signature Hofmeister kink adorns the rear doors with the tail section resembling a 545i, keeping aside the quad-tail pipes and the diffuser. Over the years, the M5 has aged well. With such a low key design and a monstrous V10, the M5’s a wolf in sheep's clothing.

BMW E60 M5 has a subtle and understated look
Via: AustralianCar.Reviews

However, the same cannot be said about the interiors. It looks to be from the previous era with one of the weirdest turn signal stalks ever fitted to a car. Interior comfort is spot on with premium leather upholstery throughout the cabin. Convenience features like heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control HVACs are there to comfort you. The infotainment unit is the older version of BMW’s iDrive system and is not the best to use. The center console houses the shift lever with 3 distinct buttons to its left; Power, DSC, and EDC. Pressing Power unlocks the full 500 hp (otherwise restricted to 400 hp), DSC toggles between stability control and EDC (Electronic Damper Control) stiffens the suspension for a sportier ride. Next to that, you’ll find the button to increase the transmission shift speeds. The controls look old and definitely pales in comparison to modern cars. Given the F1 inspired engine up front, it’s ok to turn a blind eye towards the dated switchgear and dashboard controls.

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The Dark Side

E60 M5's S85 V10 engines is prone to reliability issues

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you own an E60 M5. A lot of threads regarding the common reliability issues of the E60 M5 are discussed on Chief among which are the rod bearing failure. Other notable ones include clutch, throttle actuators, throttle pumps, and electrical failure. To put it into simple terms, the M5’s engine was its own enemy. Another regular defaulter was the SMG transmission which a lot of owners vouch for hydraulic issues. Resolving these would sometimes require replacing the entire hydraulic unit which could set you back anywhere between $8,000 to $12,000. No sedan has ever embraced a V10 before the E60 M5, and as we near the end of the ICE era, cars like these will be looked back on and cherished.


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