The BMW M5 you forgot about
One of the rarest, coolest and most desirable M5s out there.
It's not often that you can find an estate car equipped with a V10. Even less when this V10 has technologies that come from a Formula 1 car. In 2005, the crazy guys from BMW's M division introduced the E61 M5 Touring, because why should Audi be the only ones to have a fast estate car?
I would like to extend my gratitude to my friends from Private Car Collection. They have been nice enough to let us review their very special car. This M5 is finished in a beautiful Azurite Black BMW Individual colour over beige leather interior. They have a pretty cool collection of cars that you can see on their Instagram page, and they also often sell interesting cars.
The E60 M5 might just be one of the craziest M5s out there. When it came out, it was the world's first sedan to have a V10 petrol engine. Some of the technologies used for the powertrain derived from Formula 1. The result is a 5.0-litres V10 that makes 500 bhp. Enough to take it from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph. However, the E60 is even faster than this. You see, back in the days, some magazines clocked the M5's 0-100 km/h in only 4.1 seconds and the car could reach 200 mph without its speed limiter, making it the fastest sedan in the world.
But now comes the interesting stuff. That same year, BMW also released an estate version of its newest M5. The first touring car from BMW's M division since the E34, but also the last. Subsequently, the E61 M5 Touring was the world's first production estate car to be equipped with a V10 petrol engine. More importantly, it was the fastest estate of its time.
Seems that Audi were the only Germans having fun developing fast estates, and BMW wanted a piece of it. Unfortunately, that didn't go as expected and the brand from Munich only sold 1'025 M5 Touring making it one of the rarest BMWs in the world. Because of its rarity and the uniqueness of its concept (An estate with a V10), the E61 M5 Touring has the potential to become a highly collectible car. In fact, it already is.
This M5 is a true petrolhead's dream. It's a naturally-aspirated 500 bhp V10, rear-wheel drive estate car that you can drive everyday. A family car that makes the sound of an F1 car? We're fine with that! Even though the M5 is big and heavy (4'864 mm/1'955 kg), the driving dynamics are phenomenal, and the steering is pure BMW. All in all, it's just a silly car that can go fast, sideways, and all of that with a Labrador in the back.
Are there some drawbacks? It seems that many people complain about the looks of this car. Personally, I think it looks fantastic, even by today's standards, but I understand that it might not be everyone's cup of tea. Designed under Chris Bangle's management, the looks of the E61 are provocative and edgy. The M5's design looks nearly identical to the regular car, and it's a good thing as it emphasises on its "wolf in sheep's clothing" philosophy.
Also, when BMW introduced their new E60/E61 5-Series, it marked the beginnings of the iDrive infotainment system. The idea was pretty revolutionary back in 2005, but not everybody liked it and found it counter-intuitive. Today, it seems like time has taken its toll on the grandfather of modern-day infotainment systems, but it's a good reminder of how technology has evolved. You're better off using your smartphone I guess.
Lastly, there were complaints about the 7-speed SMG gearbox and the servicing in general. Even though the owner of this car didn't mind the gearbox, and specified that he hadn't run into any mechanical or electrical problems whatsoever, it's not the case for everyone. The SMG gearbox is quite slow compared to today's automatics, but it's very comfortable if you use it daily. The M5 Sedan could also come with a 6-speed manual gearbox which was only available in the US, and never made it into the Touring. On paper, a 6-speed manual BMW equipped with a naturally-aspirated V10 that makes 500 bhp seems like a dream. Unfortunately, the costs of maintenance of these cars are super high, and they are not, what I'd call, economical.
However, a V10-powered BMW estate will probably never happen again. In fact, it will never happen again. The M5 Touring is a very special car that makes absolutely no sense and that's why the want is very real. Audi may have released their own RS6 estate with a V10 a couple of years later, but it was never as fun and crazy as the BMW. You can find a decent car for around £40K, and you can expect the prices to go up even more. The M5 Touring is a unique piece of automobile history, an absolute sleeper, that reminds of how fun, sometimes, big manufacturers can be when they decide to play around.
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BMW M5 Touring