Arguments will rage more or less until the end of time over which is the best M5 and aficionados of each incarnation will no doubt be able to wax lyrical over the particular merits of their chosen steed and why it should be the bearer of the title of the world’s ultimate super saloon. We’re not going to head down that road here though as we don’t want to muddy the waters surrounding the latest M5 by comparing it to its illustrious forefathers; suffice to say that like each machine that has come before it the F10 M5 has, quite simply, wiped the opposition off the map. Even now in its twilight years the F10 M5 is seen as being the best super saloon you can buy today – quite an achievement for a car that first saw the light of day nigh-on five years ago now.
The best news for the used buyer, though, is that the F10 M5 is a stunning used buy. The new car owners’ most hated enemy, depreciation, is the second-hand buyer’s best friend and while the F10 M5 might not have suffered any worse than other expensive and powerful machines of this ilk the money involved is pretty serious. Today you can buy one of these cars for around the £30k mark or, to put it in the simplest terms, the price of a new base model 5 Series. Hmmm, let’s consider that for a moment – new 518d or a used F10 M5? It’s a nobrainer surely? Yes, the M5 will cost more to run, yes, it’ll be significantly thirstier, yes, insurance will be higher… but its performance is utterly epic. It looks and feels so special and simply pressing the starter button makes you feel good and sends tingles up and down your spine. As the ultimate all-rounder this generation of M5 has to be the best. And the icing on the cake is that so far (touch wood!) it’s proving to be amazingly reliable.
In the UK the F10 M5 went on sale in November 2011 and had a list price of a pretty eye-watering £73,040. Despite having an excellent standard specification many owners added to their cars which saw prices heading north of £80k for some examples, which makes today’s entry-level price point all the more astonishing. It was an entirely different beast to the outgoing V10-engined M5 offering ten per cent more power, 30 per cent more torque, a 30 per cent improvement in fuel economy and, thanks to a larger 80-litre tank, the potential for 55 per cent better range on a tank of Super.
Headline figures for the twin-turbo V8 were pretty exceptional – 560hp, 502lb ft of torque and a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds – pretty staggering for a rear-wheel drive saloon tipping the scales at the best part of two tons. The V8 was, of course, equipped with twin turbos (a first for an M5) that nestled in the 90-degree Vee between the two cylinder banks, and along with high-precision direct fuel injection, Valvetronic variable valve control and a cross-bank exhaust manifold that optimised gas flow to the twin-scroll turbochargers, it was a masterpiece of M’s engineering capabilities and a considerable step on from the standard N63 4.4 V8.
The previous generation M5 hadn’t won itself a huge number of friends with its slightly clunky SMG gearbox so the F10 incarnation was fitted with the seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission that had been so successful in the E9x M3 models. With both manual and fully-automated modes with three different programmes in each, the ‘box could be individually tailored to the driver’s requirements. There was also a low speed assistance function to keep the car moving smoothly through heavy traffic with only a light touch on the accelerator which was a boon for those who felt the E60 M5 had been somewhat jerky at low speeds. As well as being able to switch the gearbox between various different modes the M5 also featured switchable electronic dampers, engine modes and levels of steering assistance, too.
Power was transmitted by a rear axle that has been thoroughly reworked from that of the standard F10 5 Series. Helping to put the power down was a new version of the M differential that had been seen in recent M cars. Dubbed Active M it was an electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential that intervened rapidly and precisely at an early stage to control wheel spin. To make the system as efficient as possible M’s engineers combined the differential lock system to incorporate the best of both worlds in that it is both a speed and torque sensitive system. A pair of electronic motors that are connected to the DSC control system via flex-ray high speed data transfer push the plates together within the differential with a locking force of anywhere between zero and 100 per cent. The system also takes into account the position of the accelerator, the rotational speed of the wheels and the car’s yaw rate.
As with other BMW M models, there was a halfway house traction setting – M Dynamic Mode – which raises the intervention point of the DSC system. Suspension was a an M-honed version of what was fitted to the F10 but, in an unusual move for an executive machine, M’s engineers removed virtually all of the rubber bushing that you’d expect to find in a suspension setup. In order to provide the sort of sharp responses you’d expect from an M5, M’s boffins discovered that as the 5 Series shell is so rigid they could go down the race car route and remove rubber bushings and connect the subframe directly to the body, giving significantly better responses. Brakes were monster dinner-plate drilled discs gripped by sixpiston callipers up front.
UK-spec was pretty generous, with standard items including Head-up Display, DAB digital radio, front and rear Park Distance Control, four-zone air conditioning, xenon headlights, Adaptive Headlights, front seat heating, Professional Multimedia Navigation system with BMW Assist, glass sunroof, Bluetooth and USB audio interface. There were still be plenty of items to tick on the options list if you were so inclined, such as a rear-view camera, High-Beam Assistant, Speed Limit information, Lane Change and Lane Departure warnings, Surround View, BMW Night Vision and Full Merino leather at an eye-watering £5445.
While not a huge amount changed on the M5 during it’s production run (and it’s still in production should you be tempted to buy a new one) there were a number of special editions and minor detail changes to the car’s spec. The first of these occurred in May 2012 with the launch of the limited edition M Performance Edition of which just 30 were built for the UK market at a slightly bonkers price of £95,140.
For your money you got Frozen paint (BMW Individual Japan red with a Frozen red wrap, BMW Individual Frozen white or BMW Individual Frozen blue) complemented by Full Black Merino upholstery, floor mats with contrast piping, an Alcantara steering wheel, BMW Individual Piano black interior trim with a ‘One of 30’ laser cut designation, front headrests with M stitching and door sills with ‘BMW M Performance Edition’ script. 20-inch M double-spoke matt black alloy wheels, dark chrome exhaust, side gills and kidney surround, M Sport multi-function seats with lumbar support, powered bootlid operation, sun protection glass, split-folding rear seats, comfort access, soft close doors, reversing assist camera, highbeam assistant, internet and BMW Professional 12-loudspeaker system completed the package.
May 2013 saw the announcement of the 5 Series’ face-lift, but the vast majority of the changes didn’t apply to the M5, although some additional ConnectedDrive services were added and the car also gained the larger touchpad iDrive controller, too. Facelifted cars could be spotted by the adoption of the double-spoke kidney grille (as seen on the M6 models), a new M steering wheel with updated M DCT paddles as well as new tail-lights with ‘thin blade’ LED technology. This month also heralded the arrival of the Competition pack for the M5 – power was up to 575hp and this dropped the car’s 0-62mph time to 4.2 seconds. The Competition Package also added Sport suspension settings, Sport steering, Sport exhaust with black chrome exhaust tailpipes and exclusive 20-inch double-spoke M light-alloy wheels. Additionally the Active M Differential was tuned to enhance agility during cornering while the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) was tuned to allow higher thresholds before the DSC intervened. The Competition Package was a £6700 option.
The last update was announced in May 2014 and was the arrival of the 30 Jahre M5 to celebrate 30 years of the M5, of which just 30 came to the UK priced at £91,890. It was based on the Competition Package but saw further rises in power and torque to 600hp and 516lb ft, dropping the car’s 0-62mph time to 3.9 seconds. It also benefited from the Comp pack’s suspension changes and was finished in Individual Frozen dark silver metallic with Individual black Alcantara and full Merino leather. It was a suitable celebration of 30 year of the Ultimate Super Saloon and still represents the pinnacle of the breed.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
The M5 has drilled, vented and directional brake discs as standard and an option of carbon ceramic discs. Bear in mind a pair of new carbon ceramic discs costs £7500 with VAT (yes, really) and decide if you really want that extra smidgin of brake performance! A conversion to standard discs would be seriously expensive because the callipers are also different. Pads vary in price from the standard ones at £388 through to Sport pads and the ones used with those fancy carbon discs – needless to say, you must never use standard pads on the ceramics. Pagid does a set of M5 front pads for £121 and a pair of new BMW steel discs are £945.60, Pagid sells them for £528 (for the pair). The six-piston alloy callipers are objects of lust and really, the standard steel disc brakes are just fine. So far, the DSC and control systems have not given any trouble but modern BMW’s seem to have that licked anyway. Noisy brake pads have been an occasional problem solved by fitting and bedding in a new set but it seems that brake squeal is often part and parcel of owning these cars. Special antisqueal paste behind the pads can often cure it.
Wheels are either 19 or 20-inch – Style 345M for the 19s, Style 343M for the 20s and Style 601M on the Comp pack models. A new 19-inch wheel will cost £529 but it looks like BMW’s wheel cracking days seem to have gone away at last, and tyres aren’t stupidly expensive. Budget £500 for a pair of quality 265/40x19s such as the Michelin Pilot Supersport or the Pilot Cup Sport 2. And the cost of tyres for 20- inch wheels? Around £20 a pair less!
There are lots of M5s to choose from, and you can join the club for just £30k! Having said that we would advise upping your budget slightly as there can be quite a difference between a £30k machine and a £35k one, most notably in terms of mileage. Having said that, there are bound to be some gems hidden amongst the chaff, so don’t immediately discount lower-priced examples.
From around £35k you can buy with confidence from a BMW main dealer, complete with the Approved Used warranty that could prove invaluable. So far the F10 M5 seems to be very reliable but that’s not to say that when they do go wrong that they’ll be cheap to fix! Ensuring you have the BMW warranty in place will ensure you shouldn’t get any unpleasant surprises further down the line. If you do buy privately, or from a non-BMW specialist, we’d still recommend putting a BMW Warranty in place. To do this you must ensure that the service history is complete. Once you’ve done that it’s more or less a case of deciding what colours and options you prefer and starting your search.
The 20 Jahre edition models are the most expensive with cars currently on offer from £80,000-£100,000!
Of course there won’t be any rust problems as it’s still a new car. A few cars have the Frozen paint option and, to be honest, a decent vinyl wrap job is a much better idea. Keeping the Frozen finish good means just washing with a decent car shampoo and nothing else – no polish or even quick detailer. Whilst it appeals to some, we can’t help but think there is a limited market for this and that used values will drop like a stone as it falls out of fashion.
There are no notable problems with the body – the door handles all seem fine but bear in mind that F10s have LED rear lights that will require replacement if and when a bulb dies. Extremely expensive xenon headlamps (£1374 each) are standard but thankfully they seem much more robust than the fragile E60 and E90 xenons. What is less than brilliant is the way the door sill kick plates fall to bits; these often need replacing after three to four years. However, at £81.50 each they aren’t horrendously expensive, if you say it quickly!
Unlike the first two generations of M5 that were quite sparsely equipped, the F10 follows the E60 in being equipped with just about everything. Options include a heated steering wheel, soft close doors, blinds for the rear screen and rear doors, rear seat heating, two kinds of Alcantara headlining and a TV function for the navigation screen. None of these really add a bean to the resale value of the car so the first owner’s loss is your gain and even a car with zero options still has more than enough. The interior ambience of many an F10 (and the M5 hasn’t been hand-built since the E34) is often compromised by squeaks and rattles. The rear centre headlining can resonate, door seals creak where they meet the roof, whilst the white symbols are well known for wearing off well-used buttons. The F10 had a spate of air conditioning failures recently due to either pin holes in the alloy pipes or a holed condenser. BMW has been busy fixing these and offer a new condenser for around £100 for anyone fixing it out of warranty.
Steering and suspension
Thankfully the M5 has a proper hydraulic system with Servotronic. Apart from occasional rack or weepy pipe problems the system has been reliable. The F10 is a big heavy car and so you’d think it would be heavy on suspension parts but it’s been good, although it does get through the occasional front suspension arm. A weird rattling knock from the back was apparently due to the rear coil springs and any car so affected should have been taken in hand by BMW and rectified. Should you need a new power steering rack, it’s expensive at £2050 and used ones are very hard to track down.
The BMW S63 twin-turbo V8 is a very powerful and complex engine that has already had a few problems. But unlike the previous V10, there isn’t complication just for the sake of it. There is only one oil pump, for example. Most noteworthy is the potential oil pump failure on cars built between July and September 2012 and BMW recalled these cars to have a new pump fitted. Make sure this has been carried out and if you’re buying from a BMW dealer then you can expect a fully sorted car.
Engine management problems have been a common bugbear if the internet is anything to go by but, of course, you never hear about the majority of cars that have been perfectly fine. Warning messages and going into limp home mode are the most common issues – but it’s what causes these problems that can be a time-consuming fix and we’ve read about cars spending 60 days or more at the dealers trying to rectify them. Fuel injectors, high pressure fuel pumps, fuel rails and pressure sensors are rare but possible causes of setting the warning messages off. The underbonnet heat undoubtedly causes a lot of it and a common problem is heat damaged and split turbo vacuum pipes. Coolant loss can be due to heat-affected coolant pipes that go to the turbos – a pair of steel pipes coming from the pump and branching out into four pipes into the turbos. Due to the heat the coolant will evaporate quickly and coolant loss can be a mystery. Should you need a turbo, they are £1992 each but at least they’re not bad to change.
The water pump on these is not an electric one but a proper belt-driven pump, one potential worry removed. Oil consumption can be high – some cars gallop through a litre every 1000 miles, some use none between services. Apart from these troubles the actual engine appears okay, so far. It’s a superb engine, of course, with plenty of torque and unlike the previous V10 offers sensible fuel economy. Just keep the warranty going…
Transmission and drivetrain
New to the M5 in F10 guise is a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, a fine unit that doesn’t yet appear to have caused any trouble. Just as well because according to a BMW dealer parts website, it’s £11,500 plus VAT for a new one. Parts are available to fix it – mechatronics valve blocks and even the dual clutch unit – but the prices are still frightening and it’s not a car you’d want to own when it’s ten years old and out of warranty! There is a dual mass flywheel as well but so far they seem pretty reliable. That’s a blessing as they’re over £1500. The problem is that relatively few have been sold so it’s impossible to paint a realistic picture of reliability but we have heard of cars with over 100,000 miles that are still okay. The propshaft, differential and driveshafts are all good and strong and we doubt you’ll be breaking these anytime soon.
|ENGINE: Twin-turbo 48-valve V8, Valvetronic, double Vanos, direct injection|
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.0:1
|MAX POWER: 560hp @ 5750-7000rpm|
|MAX TORQUE: 502lb ft @ 1500-5750rpm|
0-62MPH: 4.4 seconds
EMISSIONS (CO²): 232g/km
|STANDING KM: 21.9 seconds|
|50-75MPH (4TH GEAR): 3.7 seconds|
|50-75MPH (5TH GEAR): 4.6 seconds|
TOP SPEED: 155mph (190mph with M driver’s package)*
WEIGHT: 1870kg (DIN), 1945kg (EU)
|TRACK (FRONT/REAR): 1627/1582mm|
|FRONT: Double track control arm with M specific setup|
|REAR: Integral-V multi-arm axle|
FRONT: 400x36mm vented & drilled discs, six pot callipers
REAR: 396x24mm vented & drilled discs, six pot callipers
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed M DCT with Drivelogic
STEERING: Hydraulic rack and pinion, M Servotronic WHEELS: Light alloy style 345M
FRONT: 9×19-inch (9×20-inch Style 343M optional)
REAR: 10×19-inch (10×20-inch Style 343M optional)
TYRES Michelin Pilot Super Sport
FRONT: 265/40 ZR19 or 265/35 ZR20
REAR: 295/35 ZR19 or 295/30 ZR20
PRICE: £73,040 (2011)
|* M driver’s package not offered in the United Kingdom|
The complexity of modern cars’ electrical systems is what will probably finish off a lot of them off before their time. Because the M5s are still very much in the main dealer system there is very little aftermarket information on electronic problems but so far they have proven to be pretty good. The M5 is, of course, loaded with everything and these cars aren’t old enough yet to need a new battery let along anything else. Our main dealer contacts tell us the M5 is a good car, as is the F10 in general. It’s not really old enough to have gone wrong and if something isn’t functioning as it should a reflash with the latest relevant software should cure any ills.
That the F10 M5 is a tremendous machine is beyond doubt. But the depreciation is absolutely savage, so unless you are buying on a PCP scheme (and many are) you may want to forget buying new. At the time of writing the new list price is just short of £74,000 but most dealers will try and match the £62,500 that brokers such as Broadspeed offer. There are various limited editions with the Frozen paint, if you like that sort of thing, but back here in the real world you can buy a nice very low mileage M5 for £35,000. We found a 2011 car in Space grey with 11,000 miles for £35,995 at main dealer (Specialist Cars of Tring – 0844 8094143). Loaded with 20-inch wheels, powered bootlid, reverse assist camera and Professional sound system (plus more) it’s probably the ideal spec. Compared with the 100,000-miler we found advertised for £29,000 from a non franchised car dealer, it just doesn’t make any sense to buy from anywhere other than a main dealer because without the warranty the thing will just be a millstone. As you can see from the service prices, BMW is not only very competitive but the service costs aren’t that steep. But make sure the car you buy either has a BMW warranty or can accept one. We tapped a couple of registration numbers into the BMW warranty website and it wouldn’t give us a quote.
With ever more speed cameras on the road, the silly cost of parts and its incredible complexity, cars like this are to be bought and enjoyed now. Unlike the E34 M5 for instance, the F10 M5 will probably not be a viable proposition in 20 years time when it’s generating multiple error codes and invoices.
However, that’s a long way away so, for now, dig deep, put that 520d on hold and bet yourself a tenner that you can’t own one of these for a year without the pleasure of a speed awareness course.
|OIL SERVICE PLUS MICRO FILTER||£317||£290|
|OIL/MICROFILTER/AIR FILTER/SPARK PLUGS||£758||£81|
|FRONT BRAKE PADS||£475||£261 (Pagid)|
|REAR BRAKE PADS||£212||£190 (Pagid)|
|Service prices courtesy of Sytner BMW Sheffield(0114 275 5077) and a selection of specialists. Prices are inclusive of parts and VAT.|