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| A luxury sedan and a sports car, all for less than six-figures |
Ferraris and Lamborghinis all fill space on many a youngster's bedroom walls, but there is one car that makes for great wallpaper and isn't a low-slung two seat exotic: the BMW M5. Steeped in rich motorsport pedigree, the M5 continues to be the most outrageous German sedan on the market. We've driven it on the winding back roads of rural Spain, and on the twisty tarmac of Ascari race circuit. We invite you to read on and discover the subtleties of M's latest family sized monster.
Unassuming from a distance, the M5 is a covert agent of speed. It does not yell or rumble about to the firing of each piston. When being driven gently, it responds with gentle and polite roadway behavior. The magic of the M5 lies in its duality - its ability to combine comfort and luxury with speed and dynamism. M cars have long had this split personality, but in BMW's latest M5, the contrast is more pronounced. In sleeping giant form, the M5 is as luxurious and comfortable as a 7 Series - but in angry hyena form, it becomes a proper sports car.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
The much-loved naturally aspirated V10 has been abandoned in favor of a smaller, force-fed V8. At first glance this is all bad news - but stick around long enough for a drive and the new twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 will fight hard to win your appreciation.
The biggest single negative leveled against turbocharged engines is turbo lag. Thanks to a boat load of advanced engine tech, including variable valve timing, "Valvetronic" variable valve lift, "Hot V" reverse airflow through the head (air now enters from the outside of the 'V' and feeds turbochargers mounted within the 'V' banks of the engine) and precision high-pressure direct injection, BMW has been able to improve efficiency and reduce emissions by 30 percent, while significantly increasing power and torque figures from the previous engine.
At full song, the internally designated S63tu M engine produces 560 hp from 5750 to 7000 rpm and 501 ft-lbs of torque from 1500 rpm to 5750 rpm. Redline is now set at 7200 rpm, while the previous M5's V10 revved on to 8250 rpm. While we will miss the high-revving, melodious V10 of yore, we won't miss its thirst for premium Ė and the low torque numbers that made it less responsive when driven lightly. We have no doubt that the new turbo M5 engine is a better all-round power plant that allows for improved everyday usability while giving nothing up on the racetrack. EPA fuel consumption estimates give the M5 a 17 mpg city rating with 22 mpg on the highway.
While the engine is the heart of any M car, itís far from the only critical component. And like the engine, other parts of the vehicle have been changed just as dramatically. Also of note is the directly bolted rear subframe, which does away with any rubber or plastic bushings. This method of connecting the rear subframe to the frame is usually reserved for race cars, but in order to improve both feel and performance, M have taken the most aggressive chassis design approach possible. We like it. Thanks to advanced suspension design and months of fine-tuning, the M5 is still comfortable when driven in comfort mode despite its race car backbone.
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