Bavarian steroids; the subtle and strong type
By Mark "Stretch" Batchelor, Fri, 16 Jun 2006 08:00:00 PDT
Road America racetrack, Elkhart Lake, WI - Driving the new 2006 BMW M5 5.0-liter V-10 500 hp, 383 lb-ft. torque was an experience in horsepower, design-by-software wonderment and deodorant control. Billed as a four door, rear wheel sport luxury sedan machine, one soon realizes that. Mounting the M-for-Magic M5 version is easy and comfortable. Merino leather on the seats comforts, soothes the aesthetic eye before the ignition button is pushed. Then, the cold sweats begin as anticipation of the accelerator pedal looms. This is driving, raw and pure, not commuting in a Prius. Just press the start button and the 10 cylinders of the 5.0-liter engine come to life.
The myriad combinations of the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Electronic Damping Control (EDC) and the almighty "Magic" button which changes the software magic of horsepower/gear engagement and suspension is hard to grasp in the time alloted. One just understand that the 2006 BMW M5 quickly becomes the Bavarian version of the Shelby Ford GT production instead of the Mustang that one can rent from Hertz for your business trip to New Jersey.
The 2006 BMW M5 is controlled by your foot, steering wheel and the (M)agic button. You can choose the automated mode, (D) or the Sport (S) mode. The rearward stick for upshifts and forward stick downshifts on the center column shifter is my preferred way of dancing with the M5. In normal mode the horsepower rating is 400, push the magic button and it increases to 500 horsepower. The right steering wheel paddle upshifts and left paddle downshifts. The 2006 BMW M5 comes standard with the gee-whiz 7-speed SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) which is a manual gear box mated to a automatic shifting system, or an optional old-world 6 speed manual transmission available for the analog types. Look for more luxury cars that need a boost in mileage to produce transmissions with more gears. When you've got the money, you can spend it on technology to increase your mile per gallon instead of giving up performance.
But of course, you're not lagging in the 20th century. No, you have embraced the digital drive-by-wire software as king of the world that delivers a staggering yet sober "279" driving combinations between SMG and the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and the EDC. I did NOT explore all the variations. I actually drove the 2006 BMW M5 as the one-of-a-kind sport car luxury vehicle that only BMW conceived, design, built and produced. From the resonating muffler to the stick-to-terra firma suspension, the 2006 BMW M5 is NO video game.
Humble, demur and reserved. These are not sentiments for the M5 driver. Gone are the current global warming, crude oil spiking, refinery's at maximum capacity headline worries. This is the machine that stands out above time, convention, and world sensibility.
Spring thunder showers in the upper midwest at iconic Road America racetrack are no match for the Bavarian software algorithms from the DSC and EDC suspension controllers. The 2006 BMW M5 SMG will overcome wet road or over revving attempts to maintain the Bavarian way of straight and level at all times when engaged. The backroads of Wisconsin were just as much fun to wind out the car in sweepers. This is a car that is comfortable on a track or on a road trip across country.
The (M)agic button will transform you into warp speed. Three stages, described as "comfort, normal, and sport" that increasingly tighten-up and deliver the cruising to the ready-for-the-track M5. Power, transmission, and suspension. Its all about how each is setup that morphs the M5 into a varied, luxury vehicle. Each with the same, curt, secure feel on the wet or dry track. Street or track the 2006 BMW M5 is a unique accomplishment.
Pricing - MSRP $96,100 USD; $105,695.00 as tested