With quarter-mile performance of 13.3 seconds the BMW M5 was the fastest production sedan on the planet when it was released in 2001. That was the year the M5 got some major upgrades – the move from a six cylinder to a more powerful V8, a perfect six-speed gearbox and almost 400 hp (it came in at 394 hp at launch). The family man with kids could easily drag race the same era Corvette and destroy it in a straight line (and in the curves for that matter).
The engine in the M5 was the S62 designation, derived from BMW’s 4.4-liter corporate V-8. It had increased bore and stroke, state of the art induction system with dual air cleaners and airflow meters and eight individual throttles feeds and double VANOS system which independently varies timing of intake and exhaust camshafts. The result is an impressive 394 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 369 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm.
The engine makes its presence known the first time you toe into the throttle. Not only is response immediate and strong, but it also takes on an alto scream as the tachometer needle curls past 5000 revs. Yet at a more sedate pace, the engine is almost as silent as it is in any 5-series sedan. One of the other joys of this car is the six-speed manual gearbox, which is silky smooth and perfect for a family and beast twin personality machine.
The most impressive part of the 2001 M5 is that it was more than a street drag racer, it stopped, it was an awesome steer that troubled Porsche and other brands at the time. The M5 is simply a remarkably well-rounded performance machine.