What's New for 2006
The high-performance M5 returns to the BMW lineup for 2006, this time packing a 500-horsepower V10 engine.
Originally introduced in 1972, the BMW 5 Series has spent the last three decades catering to those who desire a sedan that functions equally well as a prestigious luxury car and a thoroughbred performance sedan. The 5 Series has long been the benchmark by which other sport sedans are measured. And how does one make such a good car even better? Slap a BMW Motorsport badge on it. Well, that and all the good things that go with the badge, too.
The 2006 BMW M5 fun starts under the 5 Series' hood where an all-new 5.0-liter V10 resides. Power is prodigious: 500 horsepower at 7,750 rpm and 383 lb-ft of torque at 6,100 rpm, with a sweet 8,250 rpm redline. About the same weight as the previous V8-powered M5, the 2006 version is a great deal faster. BMW claims a 0-to-60-mph time of about 4.7 seconds, likely a conservative estimate. The transmission is all-new, as well. Now in its third generation, BMW's famous sequential manual gearbox (SMG) has seven speeds and is faster and smoother than before. An array of 11 different settings control shift point and speed, as well as clutch slip; the SMG can go from boulevard auto tranny cruiser to hammer-shifting redline blasts with the push of a button.
The BMW M5 chassis gets a bit more back-to-basics than the standard-issue 5 Series -- there's no active steering, active roll bars or run-flat tires. What you do get is a tweaked suspension setup and massive brakes (14.7-inch discs in front). The M5 also adds an Electronic Damper Control that lets the driver choose between three suspension settings -- comfort, normal and sport.
Styling changes inside and out are subtle. Unique fascias and wheels set a unique look for the exterior. Inside you'll find the trademark BMW Motorsport leather seats and decidedly sporty trim pieces. Unique to the M5 is an optional head-up display, which displays the typical vehicle data, as well as color-coded tach display to assist the driver with perfectly timed shifts. Glorious as the 10-cylinder engine is, the M5 is more than just a fast 5 Series. A true super-sport sedan, the 2006 BMW M5 sacrifices nothing in the way of performance while providing a surprisingly compliant ride in quieter moments. Five hundred horsepower never felt so good.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A high-performance variant of the midsize 5 Series, the 2006 BMW M5 sport sedan comes in one trim level only. Standard equipment includes lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/40ZR19 performance tires in front and 285/35ZR19 meats in back, HID adaptive headlamps, automatic climate control, a leather interior, heated and power-adjustable sport seats with driver memory, a sunroof and Bluetooth compatibility. The iDrive vehicle management system is also standard, as is a DVD-based navigation system with voice command. On the audio side, buyers get a premium-grade Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system with 13 speakers and a glovebox-mounted CD changer. Other options to consider include 18-way multifunction seats with active backrest width, ventilated seats, a full leather interior with Alcantara headliner, satellite radio and a versatile head-up display. Aluminum interior trim is standard, but wood is available at no extra charge.
Powertrains and Performance
The BMW M5 features a 5.0-liter V10 engine that generates a heady 500 horsepower at 7,750 rpm and 383 lb-ft of torque at 6,100 rpm. Routing power to the rear wheels is BMW's seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG), a sophisticated transmission that combines the control of a manual gearbox with the ease of an automatic. The SMG includes 11 shift programs as well as a launch control mode that primes the M5 for drag strip challenges.
Standard safety equipment includes a head protection system and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats. Side-impact airbags for rear passengers are optional. A stability control system (BMW's DSC) programmed for performance driving is also standard, as are massive four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake proportioning, cornering and stability enhancements. The BMW 5 Series was named a "Best Pick" in IIHS frontal-offset crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The driver-oriented M5 cockpit greets passengers with a dignified show of luxury and performance appeal. The multifunction iDrive interface integrates the audio, climate and navigation systems, and can also store the driver's personal settings for the car's stability control and adaptive damping systems. Build and materials quality is outstanding. Supportive seating is provided in both the front and rear, and even adults won't mind sitting in the backseat.
The 2006 BMW M5 is an extremely balanced machine that can handle aggressive driving maneuvers as well as it does dilapidated highways. The Electronic Damping Control system allows the driver to choose between three suspension settings: comfort, normal and sport. As expected, the M5 exhibits precious little body roll in sport mode along with excellent turn-in, while in comfort mode it's actually quite compliant, with the suspension swallowing all but the harshest bumps. Engine performance is absolutely outstanding as the V10 spins to its 8,250-rpm redline faster than the driver can find words to describe it. Sadly, a tinny exhaust note accompanies the experience. And although the SMG delivers expert gear changes most of the time, occasionally it's a bit slow on the draw when the driver summons maximum warp speed.