2008 BMW M5 – Click above for high-res image gallery BMW's M5 is understated enough to fly under the radar of the general public, but those in the know, familiar with its capabilities and the legacy it carries, grow silent with reverence if you pull up to them at the gas pump. Who can resist a vehicle that can stop conversations mid-sentence, and accelerates strongly enough to extinguish candles on the next block? We certainly couldn't, and thus began our week with the mighty M5. %Gallery-39463% Photos copyright ©2008 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc. Mighty cuts both ways. The engine is mighty impressive, but the transmission leaves a lasting impression, and it's not a good one. With 507 horsepower snarling forth from an alloy V10 the M5 pins you into the seat, which is fine, because you'll be comfortably smiling as your skull flattens against the headrest. Wipe that grin off your face, quickly, or else you'll be bouncing the tachometer's needle off its redline somewhere north of 8,000 RPM. Leaving the transmission in auto will avoid the rev limiter, but that's not the proper way to drive an SMG-equipped BMW. Normal automatic transmissions shift quickly; they shift smoothly, or crisply. Manual transmissions shift as well as the driver's skill allows. Some automated manual gearboxes crack off gear changes faster than a Ramset sinks nails into concrete. But SMG may be just as quick as DSG, e-gear, or Cambio Corsa, its action is wholly unsatisfying. Twiddling a rocker on the center console adjusts the shift's ferocity, but equipped with the sequential manual, the $92,000 M5 is less satisfying than a $25,000 GTI with DSG. Acceleration runs start with promise, but all of a sudden it's anchors aweigh! before you're slammed back into the seat again. An ancient TH400 would be a welcome improvement, but manual mode is the only way to extract some pleasure from this electrohydraulic transmission. The V10 is sensational in both specification and performance. Upon startup, the promise of performance crackles underhood, with pistons effortlessly sliding inside a linerless block. Electric oil pumps make the lubrication system impervious to lateral g's, ten individual throttles ensure snappy response, a bedplate keeps the forged crankshaft in place, bi-Vanos tweaks the camshafts, and a 12:1 compression ratio is integral to extracting 100 horsepower per liter. Once underway and churning along at speed, the exhaust pulses like a header-equipped hotrod, which the M5 is, straight from the factory. But there's more to the M5 than an engine. Being based on a middleweight Euro family sedan makes the M5 well suited to carting offspring around... rapidly. The accouterments of everyday life are present. Details like built-in sunshades for rear seat occupants balance out the M5's exclusive frills like the vents on the front quarter panels that look perfect on the lines of the 5 series. The front seats feature automated bolsters that tense up when the M5 is flung enthusiastically and shock the Hell out of you the first time they …
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|MPG||11 City / 17 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||500 @ 7750 rpm|
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