2008 BMW M5

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2008 BMW M5 Review


BMW subsidiary BMW M GmBH develops small volumes of ultra high-performance M versions of the compact 3 Series, mid-size 5 Series, luxury coupe and convertible 6 Series and Z4 sports cars. The heart of the 5 Series-based M5 is a high-revving 500-hp V10 engine matched with a standard Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). The dynamic M5 offers 279 combinations of chassis and powertrain settings including three power levels and three modes each of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Electronic Damping Control (EDC). Although faced with stiffer competition today than ever before, the M5 remains the king of sports sedans.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're into German ultra-performance in an otherwise practical sedan, and BMW is your brand, then this is your ride. It's exclusive, expensive and seriously fast, and with more high-technology features than just about anything else on the road.

You May Not Like This Car If...

You may prefer one of several other ultra-performance mid-size sedans, including Mercedes' E63 AMG, Audi's S6 and Cadillac's STS-V, ranging from 435 to 507 horsepower and from around $70,000 to nearly $90,000. BMW also offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo six-cylinder 535i and a 360-horsepower V8-powered 550i for a lot less money.

What's New for 2008

Like other 5 Series models, the 2008 M5 gets an exterior freshening, interior upgrades and some new features, including six programmable memory keys in the iDrive control system. New options include a heated multi-function M steering wheel, soft-close doors, premium audio, High Definition (HD) Radio and an iPod/USB adapter that integrates the iPod's functions into the car's control system.

Driving the M5
Driving Impressions

This may be the fastest, most muscular, most glued-to-the-road four-door on the market. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds (according to BMW), can seem to...

... corner almost like a race car and its braking might leave you feeling as if it has hooked an aircraft carrier arresting cable. The standard seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG), with 11 selectable programs ranging from "softest and slowest" to "hardest and quickest," can shift automatically or manually with the console lever or steering wheel paddles. But, in normal driving, and with a skilled driver, it is actually slower and less smooth than the conventional manual transmission. We prefer the no-cost optional six-speed manual, which offers crisp throws, well-arranged pedals and smooth clutch engagement.

Variable Tachometer Warning Zone
This innovative feature uses a rotating disc behind the tachometer face to move the yellow warning segment and redline to as low as 4500 rpm when the engine is cold, then gradually moves it to the normal 8250-rpm redline as the engine warms.

Brake Standby and Drying
When the driver abruptly lifts off the throttle, the DSC senses that hard braking may be imminent and applies just enough pressure to snug the pads against the rotors to reduce the system's reaction time. Also, acting on input from the windshield wiper's rain sensor during rainy conditions, the pads are periodically brought up against the rotors to eliminate any film of water between them.

2008 BMW M5 Details
2008 BMW M5 photo Interior

The 5 Series interior is revised for 2008 with the power window switches relocated to the armrests, larger door storage pockets, leather-wrapped center console and passenger door handles. The M5's brushed-aluminum interior trim can be replaced by either of two no-cost optional woods, and its high-end Merino leather can be optioned up to perforated leather and to cover the entire dash. Its iDrive multifunction controller now offers six programmable memory keys that can be set to frequently-used addresses, phone numbers or radio station presets, plus voice command for numerous functions.


Critics have been harsh on BMW's current styling, which debuted on the larger 7 Series for 2002 and the mid-range 5 Series the following year. For 2008, all 5 Series models get styling enhancements including redesigned headlights, taillights, front air dam, rear bumper and rear diffuser. The M5 sports a deeper, more aggressive front air dam with larger center air intake and brake air inlets, BMW M front fender gills, special rocker panels and rear bumper/spoiler/diffuser and quad exhausts.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In addition to all the trappings you'd expect in a vehicle priced as it is, the 2008 BMW M5 includes as standard equipment a DVD-based navigation system with real-time traffic information, special M instrumentation and sport steering wheel, heated front seats with adjustable backrest width, Xenon Adaptive Headlights and ultrasonic Park Distance Control. Safety equipment includes dual front, front-side and tubular head-protection airbags, plus a sophisticated set of electronic stability, traction and brake controls.

Optional Equipment

The M5 offers an enticing array of options including full or perforated leather interior with suede-like Alcantara headliner, 20-way M multifunction seats with active width adjustment, active seat ventilation, Comfort Access keyless unlock and start, M Head-Up Display, heated steering wheel, soft-close automatic doors, high-definition radio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, iPod/USB adapter, rear seat heating and rear side air bags.

Under the Hood

High-rpm is a key BMW M credo, so this V10 is engineered to rev eagerly to its 8250-rpm redline, at least partially due to the use of lightweight reciprocating components throughout, which also reduces total vehicle weight and helps balance front/rear weight to a near 50/50 distribution. It has three power and response settings: A P400 default mode caps the engine's output at 400 horsepower with normal throttle response, P500 unleashes all 500 horses with quicker response and P500 Sport delivers full power with still quicker response.

5.0-liter V10
500 horsepower @ 7750 rpm
383 lb.-ft. of torque @ 6100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?