Why I’m Not Excited By the New F10 BMW M5

These days, numbers no longer do the talking.

We have comfortably exceeded every available record to break for the modern sports car. Fastest lap times – check. Fastest acceleration – check. Shortest braking distance – check. You get what I mean; there is so much improvement from cars of yesteryear that now we are spoilt by excellence.

We are fortunate in that sense because we, quantitatively, are now enjoying what the best of the automotive world can offer. Like the new F10 M5, for instance.

It has a score sheet that would make any school teacher proud – 552bhp, 680Nm of torque, 0-100mph in 8 seconds and a comfortable top speed in excess of 300km/h. However, like the old adage that top scoring students are not necessarily the ones who would make the most of their life in the future, there are as many reasons why the M5 doesn’t tickle my senses as much as it should.

Glance down the spec sheet and a huge figure will immediately put off especially keen drivers: 1870kg. That is ‘only’ 22kg more than the E60 M5, but then its predecessor wasn’t a featherweight to begin with. It’s simple physics (like I know it enough to say…): more weight requires more power. Hence the 552bhp and more importantly, the 680 torques needed to shift the F10 as fast as an M5 should.

Qualitatively, some things have not changed, which is good. Pace is definitely still intact; in fact, this is the fastest M5 ever made. It still does luxury for 5 people in supreme comfort. It still has a boot and practicality for a family. But some things are now lost.

Where the older cars (I’d have to go back to as far as the E34 for a comparison) were airy, friendly to drive and possessed excellent visibility, the F10 M5 feels like it has just taken the size of its larger brother, the 7-Series. I have to qualify that I haven’t driven the new M5 – but having been behind the wheel of the F10 family, I am of the opinion that it has grown to a size too big for its own good. Consequently, it is more unwieldy, less maneuverable and a lot more difficult to place. It’s as if a lean frame was bloated with empty spaces below that metal bodywork that altogether makes a car unnecessarily large.

There’s also the power chase. I no longer am excited by power. One of my favourite phrases which is likely to rile some people is that ‘power is cheap’. It is no longer such a stunning achievement to build the world’s most powerful engine. Garages with their home-made engineering can develop 1,000bhp reliably. The challenge now is building a car that makes the most of its power by becoming lighter and smaller, giving us all of the elements that had been lost in the process: dexterity, clarity in response and economy not by superlatives but by efficiency of performance.

I’m also saddened that the dual clutch gearbox has all but reinforced the naysayers of the manual transmission. ‘It’s faster, why bother?’; ‘It’s cleaner, why bother?’; ‘It’s easier, why bother?’. I have no doubt that the dual clutch box is all of this – quantitatively, it is a superior product. But you know what, call me old school or silly or even certifiable, but manual gearboxes will be in the defining epoch of a generation of drivers who still bothered to drive.  That which we call ‘driving’ is something I will always fight to preserve and protect. Hope you do too.


The only writer to be based in Asia, James provides a refreshingly different perspective to the automotive industry with his unique experience of living in the Far East. He is a prolific journalist who has written for several leading automotive publications in Singapore, including Torque Singapore and REV Magazine Singapore. He believes in the thrill of driving and champions for an appreciation of driving pleasure above the horsepower race. In September 2010, James relocated to the United Kingdom, London, bringing him to a whole new environment from which to start a new chapter in automotive journalism.

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  1. I agree, the car is now a dreadnaught and huge. When you think about the 3.0 Coupe and the 633/635 from the Seventies and the Eighties, this thing seems like a steroidal monstrosity.

  2. ” I have to qualify that I haven’t driven the new M5″

    End of article. You are therefore no more qualified to speak on the F10 M5 than I am to speak about flying the space shuttle, and you are also therefore no different than any self styled automotive enthusiast on any internet forum in existence.

    Your post contradicts every review by anyone who has ever actually driven the new M5, so call me when you have driven it. If your opinion still stands at that point, then it is what it is, but it might not. Just go drive it before you pop off.

  3. ” I have to qualify that I haven’t driven the new M5″

    Exactly. At least you didn’t dare put the word “Review” on the top of this dreck. And trying to compare a base F10 5-series to this godly machine shows you really have an uniformed opinion. An opinion, yes. But uninformed.

    At least try to drive the car before chiming in. Is that too much to ask for?

  4. Your article has garnered a fair bit of attention on Autospies. You have your opinion but remember most people read articles like this expecting reviews.

    Maybe give the car a punt first before making a statement about it an maybe your enthusiasm might change, who knows.

  5. Mr James Wrong, i mean Wong. Drive the car first before you make any such comments. That was an idiotic essay full of uninformed drivel.

  6. I think people are getting the wrong idea here. I am not reviewing the car, neither am I assessing how good it is. What I am getting at is the concept of the modern sports car. They are heavy, and power is consequently increased to make up for it. The F10 M5 is victim to such a concept, plain and simple. I don’t deny or refute the point that the car may drive like a dream (I too agree that I am not qualified to say until I drive it, which is why I mentioned it in the article), but I do feel that a four door sports saloon has no need to be close to two tons.

    I am critiquing the concept, not the car – the M5 is merely an example. Hope that makes it clearer for readers. Hey, I appreciate your comments anyway.


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