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Fire in the Hole: BMW’s New F10 M5

September 22, 2011 by Matt

BMW F10 M5 2012

Reviews of the new F10 BMW M5 are starting to trickle in, and the plaudits and detractions are completely predictable. Top Gear, for instance, notes the car’s ability to

…pulverize supercars while carrying four in massive comfort

but also laments:

Despite the acceleration it delivers and the speed it carries, this is not a raw, animalistic car, even with all the buttons turned up to 11.

Expect to read a variation on that theme from just about every outlet that publishes a road test. “Awesomely fast and capable, but less visceral than the previous M5” will be the refrain. But really, what other path was there for BMW to take? New EU emissions regulations have been signing the death warrant for high-revving, naturally-aspirated powerplants across the continent (including the previous M5’s banshee V10), and with their demise goes their corresponding feel and character; namely, the endless revs, the linear powerband, the spine-tingling wail of an engine spinning into oblivion. Turbo’d engines may be more efficient and offer more low-down grunt, but they feel muffled, clipped, tamed… And such is the state of the M5, in spite of the increased power and speed. It’s a prime example of a larger trend in the industry, the way cars are simultaneously growing more capable and less involving. As evidenced by this F10 M5, we’re losing our connection to our cars’ mechanical “roots.”

BMW F10 M5 Engine Bay S63

That said, there are certainly some things to admire about BMW M’s latest offering. My favorite is the (mostly) unadorned engine bay. Instead of a giant M-badged engine cover, the automaker peels back the plastic to grant us a beautifully unrestricted view of the intake piping to the pair of turbos nestled in the engine’s “V,” as well as the air-to-water intercoolers and other assorted mechanical bits. It’s ironic that the car itself feels less raw than the previous iteration at the same time the engine view is more “unplugged”—not that I’m complaining about the latter.

Another pleasing feature concerns a major coup by US BMW enthusiasts. Irate at the idea of an M car offered without a proper three-pedal manual—BMW’s only transmission for the new M5 was to be their 7-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic—enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic succeeded in pressuring the automaker to make a conventional 6-speed manual available as an option. Score one for the purists. It seems M5 customers who opt to use their right hand and left foot will at least be able to experience feedback from the car that way, if nowhere else.

Filed under: BMW, News

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