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  1. #1
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    M5 May Have Been A Mistake For Me Update

    Friends. I havenít posted since those early posts because it didnít seem like my experience was providing value for many of the readers Ė for some reason, a lot of you need to convince yourselves (and others) that the M5 is the most terrific car ever built. Unfortunately, for me, itís not.

    The problem seems to rest with the drive train execution in daily traffic. If one plans to drive the car regularly on the freeway, it will deliver mile after mile of pleasurable driving. If on the other hand, you find that your driving consist of stop and go traffic or having to stop and go on hills, forgetaboutit. The SMG is simply not set up for quick decisions when there is stop and go on hills. The engine also seems ill-suited for slow driving. If you have to hesitate when making a turn, then hit the gas, the car first lurches, then engages then, lurches again. It doesnít allow for the smooth transition of an automatic, or the smooth transition of a manual that allows you to apply sufficient throttle or clutch finesse needed to create an enjoyable drive. Also, when descending a hill, the car lurches forward when it shifts. Why? Because the auto clutch doesnít engage in a natural way, it also doesnít downshift naturally (regardless of the settings Ė believe me I have tried them all Ė hundreds of times). In fact, if you are making a sharp right on a downhill at a reasonable speed, the car may [Oops!] up right in the middle of the turn Ė causing the car to lurch forward! In a normal stick, you would either shift down prior or hold your gear during the turn Ė this set up creates a lurch which changes the entire dynamics of the turn. Note: This particular complaint can be overcome by me as I use the paddles, but for my wife who uses the auto, it is quite a surprise Ė and not a pleasant one.

    During my last trip to the dealer, I noticed a used one for sale. The service guy informed me that the former owner just couldnít handle the sloppiness of the transmission. I asked why he thought it was so after so many people had come to enjoy the SMG in the M3. He concluded that the M3 had better low and and it was so much lighter Ė two factors which made it less disturbing than the M5 iteration.

    Like most of you, the bad news about the M5 doesnít overcome the fact that when it comes to comfort and handling, there is nothing out there that beats the M5. Thus, most of you are probably wondering what to do. If you fall into this category, you have my sympthies. After my original impressions (which havenít changed in in 6 months), I went out and tried everything out there Ė Bentley, S65 Mercedes, Maserati, Jag, etc. None of them had the comfort or handling of the M5. For those who think they might enjoy the BMW 550, forget it, the car is a bummer next to the M5 when it comes to the thrill of driving.

    So, thatís it, at the risk of inviting a lot more abuse from detractors, I thought I would try and help those of you are still in a quandary about this car. Note: Whomever still wants to tell me that I donít know how to drive, Iím rich complainer, etc. Please cool it. My intention in writing isnít to upset anyone who loves this car. I really just wanted to give you and update from my original post ďThe M5 may have been a mistake for meĒ I believe that many of the issues we all prattle on about in that first thread have become the issues which are leading to slower than expected sales (if inded they are selling slow) and hesitation among buyers.

    if you have an M5 and you disagree with me, then I will interested to learn how you see it. But for those of you who only have a test drive to offer up as experience, I advise you to do more reading than writing (except to ask questions). I think everyone may benefit from those of us who have 5,000 to 10,000 miles in these cars.


  2. #2
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    Thanks for the post...you are right on the M3 SMG.

    I have had 3 M3's, all with SMG, and I love them. In auto mode at low speeds, the tranny will stay in 2nd gear until the car is at a full stop. The only time you will get a lurch is at almost a speed of zero when the car decides to downshift from 2nd to 1st....there is a slight wait period. Other than that, SMG is wonderful.

    A couple of notes about SMG that may or not may make it better driving in traffic. If you use the A1 mode (slowest shifting), the car starts in 2nd gear all the time. It is hard on the clutch as the M5 will try to accelerate fast by riding the clutch. Other than that, it might be smoother although the upshifts are really slow, and the car shifts at very low rpms where the torque is low.

    Finally, the 2007 model M5 will offer a true manual (3 pedals) 6-speed for the American crowd. That might help the M5 sales which have been lower than expected.


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    Re: Thanks for the post...you are right on the M3 SMG.

    JLO, your timing is good. After feeling a bit guilty abour dumping on the M5, I was out for a spin...and tried that lowest setting - which I hadn't done for months. You are correct about the 2nd gear startup, but what annoys is that it jumps from there to 4th, then almost immediatly to 7th. When climbing a hill, it tends to try and stay in the higher gears, then abruptly jumps to 3rd at the last moment possible - again this is rather blunt coming from a heavy, powerful car - my guess is that your M3, being lighter moves through these tranisions with less drama. The bottom line is that the transmission appears to be great for straigh line acceleration and perhaps an oval, but not much when it comes to handling on more challenging roads or in stop and go.

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    Interesting shifting on the M5..............

    The M3 never skips a gear going up, only downshifting. No mater what mode, it always goes 1 to 6 in order. When you slow down it will go either 6,4,2 or 5,3,2. The transmission will always end up in 2 unless you come to a complete stop and then it goes to 1. The M3 in Auto mode will wait until the last possible second to downshift, but the shift is fairly smooth. It must be the weight of the M5 (4000+ lbs) that makes the shifts so abrupt. I guess they figure that the M5 has enough power to skip gears on the up-shift. My wife, who rarely drives the M3, always uses A3 which is a nice blend of power for the open road and smooth enough for heavy traffic. She says she barely feels the shifts. As a passenger when she drives in A3, the car feels very smooth to me. Does the M5 skip gears in all the Auto modes, or just A1?

    It's also interesting that a few of the car magazines who drove the M3 and then the M5 thought the shifting on the M5 was toned down for the US market. They were also comparing the Euro M5 to the US M5 and thought the shifts were different in the US M5....not as crisp. I wonder if BMW tried to make the car smoother for the US market. The M3 shifting in S6, the fastest, supposedly .08 seconds is brutal...it snaps your head back and it feels like it's trying to destroy the rear differential. People have said that the M5 in S6 isn't brutal at all....go figure.

  5. #5
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    Great post - this is common among many....

    cars nowadays. I find that the Ferrari 360 Modena is another great car but the reality of ownership is not very satisfying. I believe the best cars were built in the 1990s before so many computers took over (my friend's Porsche Cayenne Turbo has had at least six computers fail - even a computer for the seat!). The same friend also has a new M5 and he regularly has to take it to the dealer for warranty work.

  6. #6
    Mr. Mr.
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    I agree and I only test drove it, question re:550i

    Its hard to be honest in the face of adversity, especially when nearly $100k is injected into the equation. I'm 31 and I think the M5 is too jerky and the power delivery around town at low rpms leaves something to be desired. BMW have put together a machine to conquer the Nordschlife, not Manhattan. The prior M5 was capable of doing both, although it was a tad compromised in either category.

    JAL I'm curious about your feedback on the 550i. I haven't driven one yet. Power issues aside, is the 550i not an engaging drive? I would think that it would offer a good compromise of comfort and performance? Just curious as to your thoughts on the car. Also, when you mention that you drove the Maserati, I assume it was a Quattroporte. How did the transmission in that compare to the M5? How was the overall experience in the QP?

    Regards,
    DRP

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    Re: I agree and I only test drove it, question re:550i

    Mr. I appreciate your condolences - the $100K makes this whole adventure far more distasteful than simply making a bad choice!

    Meanwhile, in all honesty, I can't say that much about the Quadraporte. My test drive on that car was prior to owning the M5 so I wasn't really thining about the SMG issues other than to think - this could be fun. I wish that I had more to say. I did notice that the car seemed heavy in the nose - like it dipped when you hit the hit the brakes. Other than that - it is very cool looking inside - classy. But, for me, the M5 seats were/are much better.

    Also, I think at the time that I tested the Quadraporte, I was a die hard BMW fan and was comparing it to the articles about the M5, not the actual driving experience. Live and Learn.

    You may want to give it whirl.

    Oh, the 550. Personally, I found the non M cars in the BMW stable to be a step backward. Personally, I think the spread between the M cars and the non-M cars is widening. The 5, 6, and 7 all failed to impress.

    I don't mean to come off like a snob.. Truthfully, if I were approaching this again, I would buy an 2003 540 coming off lease before going for the new car - it seemed to be better built than the newer models.



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    Re: M5 May Have Been A Mistake For Me Update

    Jal,

    I appreciate your feedback on the new M5. I have an 2003 E39 M5 and plan on buying the new E60 in the 2008 model year.

    With your writing I feel better educated about the car and will keep your thoghts in mind when I get mine.

    Your plight is a reminder to me, never get the first year model of a new car.

    Thanks,

    Greer.

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    agree about stop-go but not the rest

    the car is awesome on twisty roads and on a road course. you just have to use the S6 mode and pay attention to shifts, just like in any manual-equipped car. driving a challenging road in auto is defeating the purpose. honestly, i think the car should not have an auto mode at all. it just confuses people into expecting something from the car that it isn't designed to deliver and leads to disappointment. true, many people would not buy it if there was no auto mode but those are the ones who end up being unhappy anyway. i'm not being elitist or putting anyone down - everybody has different driving needs and preferences. it's just that some people's circumstances are not compatible with the m5 (i.e. urban driving) but the presence of an auto mode convinces them it would be ok. it won't.

    also, instead of going to a normal manual box bmw should just install a clutch pedal the use of which would be optional except from a dead stop (pressing the pedal would override the automatic clutch operation, or they could make a drive-by-wire clutch - neither would be all that hard to do). that would give a lot more control in stop-go traffic while retaining the ability to paddle-shift without lifting when pushing hard.

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    Move on...

    This topic has been exhausted with the last posting.
    The theme is tired.

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    SMG on the M3

    SMG was the only reason I don't have the 996 but instead ending up with the M3 three years ago. After 60k+ miles, I think I have it down pat. But still, as you've pointed out, after a long day, you just want to leave it in auto for the long haul home on the stop and go freeway traffic. Even with the lighter M3, I will occasionally get the unavoidable buckaroo shakes. Oh yeah, the inability to change to 1st unless a complete stop?; I now alternate between manually downshifting and then reactivated auto mode once I get going again. Sigh.

  12. #12
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    I am not a fan of the SMG.

    I have thousands of km under my belt in M3, M3CSL, M5 and M6 and still find the little glitches to be annoying.

    It is still a great gearbox, but will soon be superceded, and is an evolutionary dead end.


  13. #13
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    Re: Do Not Want a New M5

    Thanks all for the info. As a lurker who at one time was considering a new M5 I'm going to stick with my 03 M5 and my 97 850Ci with Steptronic. Both cars are great looking, they are certainly less trouble to maintain, and they are the last of the true BMW's.

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    Learn to DRIVE the SMG III

    I put on 18k mi on a M3 6sp, 59k on a M3 SMG and now 2k on a M6.

    The SMG III must be DRIVEN. It is MUCH berrer than the SMG II. If u put it in auto and forget it, it's not great.

    However if u use auto but shift for yourself on those occasions it's needed, the tranny is wonderful.

    I use auto prolly 80-95% of the time. When I want more revs, or want to shift earlier, I do it myself. IT AIN'T HARD TO DO!

    Now I undserstand your wife not liking it if she wants to be driven nstead of driving -- but someone like that shouldn't be driving that car. Let her drive a freekin Avalon.psybj
    '06 ///M6 Silverstone
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  15. #15
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    I still think you don't get SMG

    The first rule of SMG is you need to drive it like a manual. All your writing makes me think you are used to driving an auto and you don't really know how to control a car with a "manual" transmission. Let me share some of my SMG III suggestions...

    DOWNSHIFT. Don't wait for the car A mode to do it, its useless. Keep the car in its power band and not at low revs where the computers have to modulate the clutch. You want to be driving around at higher RPMs.

    You need to be firm and decisive with the throttle, the car learches along with your foot. Think of it like a scooter throttle. You can really feel the clutch engaging as you add a little gas. Try adding a little gas to prime the clutch, and then adding more gas when you want the car to shoot forward. This is much the same procedure you do with a manual car when you take up the clutch a little to get the car rolling.

    When coming to a stop that you know are you going to need a quick get away from, try calling for the 1 gear right before you stop so you know its there when you need it... do this, combined with the throttle /clutch control and the car reacts immediately.

    You complain that your car learches forward downhill... well I think I can explain that... When you drive downhill in a manual, most people will hold a lower gear to help with the engine braking. In the lower D mode, downhill the car tries to keep the revs as low as possible so when it sees that you don't need power it upshifts (sometimes a couple gears). This causes the learch. It would happen in a true manual if you were engine braking (say 2nd) and then put the car into 4th.

    Welcome to the future.... with dual clutch quick shift system plesae :-)


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    Great Input JAL...I can appreciate your experience

    While it's true I only test drove the M5, my wife and I did have it for an hour and a half and took it up and down the A6 autobahn, on dirt roads, through cities and even wine country down by Bad Durkheim. We were intent on buying one a year ago but after an extremely disappointing test drive, decided to keep our Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Our first and foremost complaint was the transmission for daily driving. We've got kids so we look for a daily driver that can be good for errands and satisfy the performance itch as well.

    People told me that I just didn't understand the M5 and that it's meant for the track....to which I reply...who on earth would buy a four door sedan track car? Why not get a 911 GT3 if you want a track car for about the same price? It has four doors and it fit our criterion of family/performance car...at least on paper. We opted out of it. After the transmission, we hated how disconnected we felt from the car. It felt like you were just a cog in a well-oiled machine. Granted, it is quite a machine, just no passion or soul...very cold. Our Cayenne Turbo is so much more fun to drive (despite being the bastard child of the Porsche family and a way too heavy SUV). Also, the power is tuned so high in the power band, I don't see being able to use it around town (seems tuned once again for track experience.)

    Alas, I bought an M5 anyway. I appreciate all the input from the board I've received and I take delivery of a 2007 in mid-September. I'm looking forward to many aspects and I want to give the car a solid chance to change my mind. But I'm not selling the Porsche just yet :)


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    I would not compare the M5 and the Cayenne.

    Apples and oranges. Glad you saw the light thought and picked up the M5.

    Are you based here in Germany? If so at least you will be able to enjoy it to its fullest. If not you should take a European Delivery so that you can at least sample the performance again in a proper setting!

  18. #18
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    Re: I would not compare the M5 and the Cayenne.

    I do live most of the time in Germany. I am trying to be very objective about the M5. The only reason I would compare the Cayenne Turbo with the M5 is that again...for my wife and I to hvae performance AND a family car, they're comparable. Our choices to satisfy that need are pretty slim:

    - Maserati Quatterporte(nearest service center is in Frankfurt...2+ hours away)
    - Mercedes E55 AMG (Except for the new S class, I've been cold on Mercedes for years now.)
    - Audi S6 (I want to like it..I really do...I just don't)
    - BMW M5
    - Porsche Cayenne Turbo


    I think the M5 and the Cayenne are lacking aesthetical appeal, so factor that out. The M5 just seems like they missed the boat. It seems tuned for a track with paddle shifters and power high up in the band....but it's a sedan. Again, if I was buying a track dedicated car, I wouldn't be looking at ANY sedans. Why not put this transmission and use the M5 tuning in something like a BMW roadster or something?

    I won't go on about the Porsche, I understand this is not the forum to do so. My big complaints are the styling, the unnecessary weight and damnit...Porsche should never have built an SUV!!! Other than that...what a rush! To experience that much weight get up and accerelate, handle and thrash about is just a real hoot. I'll stop there though because I don't want to start a Cayenne vs. M5 thread. Again, for me to compare these two cars for purschase was very valid because I need (want) a performance family car. Instead of choosing, I bought both.

    p.s. I do plan to sell one of them though...making way for the new 997TT :)

  19. #19
    CMB
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    Re: M5 May Have Been A Mistake For Me Update

    I disagree.
    I Picked my 06' M5 up in Munich this last April.
    It was wonderful!

    I now have it here in Texas and have enjoyed it even more.

    It is a matter of opinion but I like the SMG.

    No problems here with the first year E60 M5.

    CMB


  20. #20
    felix
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    these impressions help others that come here for .

    info before buying. so they dont' end up in the same position.

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