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.
The high-performance M5 returns to the BMW lineup for 2006, this time packing a 500-horsepower V10 engine.
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.
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.
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.