BEAST MODE Monstrous 820hp F10 M5
Is the F10 M5 the best M5? We wouldn’t like to be the ones to give an answer to that question because each generation is championed by hordes of die-hard fans and we’re not ones to cause trouble.
But, you can’t deny that it is the best at a lot of things. It’s the quickest M5, the most powerful, also the most economical and thus, in many ways, the most practical and a genuine contender as an everyday car, and that’s important for a lot of people shopping for a car like an M5. If they didn’t need a saloon then there’s plenty of high-performance machinery to choose from at the £70k+ price point, but having four doors, five seats and a big boot wrapped up in a relatively discreet body with a whole heap of power makes for a perfect package. We could probably, and relatively safely, say that the F10 M5 is the best all-round M5, then, and its appeal is undeniable. We want one, badly. As we’ve established, the performance is a big part of that appeal and there is an awful lot of it thanks to the S63 V8 that you’ll find under the bonnet. It may not have the purity of the S38 straight-six, or the sheer lunacy of the S85 V10, but it has a lot of power, a lot of torque and two turbos, and that means that, if you are so inclined, even more power is readily available and easily achievable.
Nick Sutton is that way inclined. He’s only owned his Monte Carlo blue example since last year and in that space of time it’s gone from being completely stock to quite possibly the most powerful F10 M5 in the country. Not that you’d know about it, mind, because aside from a few very subtle additions (and the noise) there’s really nothing here that gives the game away, just how Nick likes it. This is, in fact, his first BMW, which comes after many, many extremely highly-modified Japanese performance machines, a hard act to follow but it’s safe to say it’s doing a sterling job. “I’ve always loved Japanese performance stuff, it’s so tunable,” he explains and that’s always been a huge draw, with so much potential performance ready and waiting to be tapped into, but BMW’s move to turbos has redressed the balance. “I’ve had over ten Skylines,” Nick continues, “and for my next car it was between this and a GT-R. I knew I was going to mod the car before I bought it, I did my research, and I wanted something with room and something that might be faster than a GT-R, so the M5 won – the fact that it’s cheaper to mod than the GT-R is a bonus as well.”
With the M5 purchased, the modding could begin, but what we like about Nick is that rather than just jumping on the most popular, and expensive mods, he did his own research and applied a bit of innovation. “The first thing I did,” he says, “was look into air filters. What I saw was that they were all crazy expensive, so I decided to make my own. I looked for universal filters, settling on a pair of Ramair dry cone filters, which cost £100 a pair, and cut the intake pipes then attached the filters and they fit perfectly where the standard air boxes would sit. It took me 20 minutes to fi t them and I saved myself a fortune,” he grins. “I then found some scoops in the Screwfix catalogue for £1.50 each, which were the perfect size and shape to fi t behind the front grille and feed air to the filters,” he adds, and we really have to applaud the innovation here. “I put photos and details of my home-made kit on the M5 forum and everyone copied me,” Nick laughs, so he was clearly onto a good thing.
“I did the exhaust next,” he continues, and while there’s a big selection of exhaust options available for the F10 M5, you won’t find an off-the-shelf system here as the whole thing is completely custom. “If you look under a standard car,” he explains, “you’ll see that the exhaust goes from two pipes into an X-pipe and where this happens the pipework gets pinched down from 100mm to 70mm in diameter. I had that section remade so there’s no pinch and the piping remains at 100mm all the way through and I also had the X-pipe relocated. The result was a phenomenal increase in power and a complete change in noise.” But Nick wasn’t done, and went on to have the rear boxes removed as well as adding a pair of cat-less downpipes and removing the secondary cats as well. This has resulted in a further increase in power, about 100hp he reckons, along with an absolutely apocalyptic exhaust note; we’re not kidding, this car sounds absolutely outrageous and is shockingly loud. So loud, in fact, that Nick’s actually had the cold start programme removed in order to not upset his neighbours too much every time he fires it up.
“Once I increased the power I started to get the gearbox temperature warning light coming up on the dash,” says Nick, “so I changed the standard 1.0-litre gearbox pan to a 2.5-litre one with larger fi ns for additional cooling and at the same time I had a gearbox remap done. What this does is it increases the torque limit, increases shift speed and downshift rev-matching and also adds 20% extra clamping power, which helps to stop the clutch from slipping. It’s made a huge difference to how the car drives; it was £500, so I had to be committed to go for it, but it was absolutely worth it,” he says. With intake, exhaust and gearbox attended to, Nick decided to treat the M5 to a remap and for that he went to Evolve. “Their remap is really phenomenal,” he beams, “and with it applied the car made 755hp on Evolve’s dyno. Imran took the car out to see how it drove and when he brought it back he said ‘wow’ so to hear that from him meant a lot!” he exclaims.
So far, so standard as far the performance mods are concerned but this is where Nick’s M5 journey ventures offpiste and heads in a direction that’s not yet well-established in the UK and that’s meth injection. “I’d read about it on the forums,” he explains, “and decided to go for it. I started speaking with a guy in Texas who knows all about it and he’s given me all the guidance for my own setup. Paul at Caesar’s Car Alarms fitted the whole meth system based on the guy’s instructions and the kit instructions and then I had to get it tuned; I was emailing with the guy in Texas to get everything set up. It took a lot of time and effort,” says Nick, “and I almost gave up at one point but I decided to persist. There was a lot to learn and a lot of work involved – the injector size, pressure and mix all affect how it works and have to be perfectly matched. The ECU also has to learn that there’s meth being added to the engine and it takes six pulls before it understands what’s going on. We decided to let the ECU do its own adjustments and it does a good job; I was worried that if I had it mapped specifically for meth and I then ran out, the engine would be running on the wrong map. The first time I drove it I was disappointed that I couldn’t feel a difference but when it adjusted and everything started working I realised what all the fuss was about and all the hard work instantly paid off. There are lot of benefits to having meth beyond the extra power it gives,” Nick explains, “it cleans the inside of the engine, it actually improves fuel economy and reduces piston temperatures as well. The one gallon tank I have in the boot lasts about three weeks – this is my daily and I do quite a few miles, so that’s really good, though on track I’ll go through that in a day,” he laughs.
In addition to the meth Nick has also wrapped the turbos and downpipes with DEI heat wrap, which he says reduced under-bonnet temperatures by a staggering 200°C, and he’s also wrapped the water feed pipes and oil pipes with Thermo-Tec reflective wrap to keep the engine’s vital fluids cool. In addition to the various other performance enhancements, Nick has also fitted bigger bore FTP charge pipes and changed the hoses and clamps, which help to ensure that there are no leaks at the higher boost pressure he’s now running, 21psi to be precise. It’s a very comprehensive range of engine upgrades and it has resulted in a dyno-tested 820hp, which is a monstrous amount of power in anyone’s book. You might think that he’s done but that’s definitely not the case; next on his to-do list are pair of 40% larger chargecoolers, to further help keep intake temperatures down, and he’s also planning to switch to a JB4, which will allow him to have the flexibility of switchable maps, ideal for his meth setup. With so much power, Nick is also very keen to keep a close eye on his engine to ensure that it’s in perfect condition internally. “I’ve done 20,000 miles in just this past year,” he says, “so I periodically get the oil checked by a company called The Oil Lab. It costs £50 to have 30ml analysed and they can tell you everything about how healthy your engine is and it’s really incredibly useful to make sure everything is OK.”
With so much power on tap, Nick found that he was constantly struggling for grip and traction and the only solution was to go for the widest, stickiest tyres he could squeeze under the M5’s ample rear arches. It now wears 315/30 Toyo R888R rubber at the back, the only tyres Nick’s tried that are capable of actually transmitting the M5’s monstrous power and torque to the Tarmac without wheelspin. As far as suspension is concerned, Nick has taken the decision to fit a set of H&R lowering springs, but only at the front as he likes the raked look, while the brakes have undergone a few custom modifications.
“I’ve removed the backing plates from the discs,” says Nick, “for better airflow and better cooling and I’ve fitted braided hoses but they’re located behind the suspension legs, away from the discs, to help minimise heat transfer,” he explains, and he’s also fitted Cool Carbon pads up front and EBC Redstuff items at the rear.
As Nick likes subtle mods, he’s kept his M5 looking fairly stock both inside and out, but there are a few choice additions that make it stand out. While he was initially looking to change the wheels, he says the standard 20s have grown on him and the black looks great against that bold blue bodywork, as well as tying in nicely with the various black elements around the car, such as the matt black grilles and wing vents. At the rear there’s a Top Speed drag-type spoiler, which finishes off the boot lid nicely, while below the rear bumper sits the extremely sexy and aggressive carbon fibre diffuser. Finally, on the inside, there’s carbon trim on the dash and steering wheel along with Autotech extended carbon shift paddles.
It’s fair to say that Nick has built an awesome M5. It might look relatively subtle from the outside but there’s nothing subtle about the way it sounds, or the way it goes. This car isn’t so much a sledgehammer as a wrecking ball, capable of demolishing absolutely anything that dares to get in its way. There are more mods planned, and alongside the aforementioned chargecoolers and JB4, Nick is also planning to fi t some larger turbos, which will push power even further into the stratosphere. Well, when you’ve come this far, why not go all the way? Besides, Nick has no intention of selling his M5 anytime soon, so it’s money wellspent.
“I looked at other cars, but there’s nothing better than this,” he smiles, and for someone coming from a modified Japanese background to say that about the first BMW he’s ever owned tells you everything you need to know.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS BMW M5 F10
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 S63B44, Evolve Stage 2 remap (21 psi), Ramair dry induction filters, custom air intake scoops FTP larger bore charge pipes, AEM Methanol injection using 100% Pure M1 Meth, 10% Ethanol fuel mix, custom de-cat downpipes, handmade larger X-pipe, custom straight pipe race exhaust with 3.5” tips, turbos/ downpipes DEI wrapped, liquid feeds Thermo-Tec wrapped. Seven-speed M DCT gearbox, TMC remapped with 20% extra clutch clamping, larger capacity Wortec DCT sump
CHASSIS 9×20” (front) and 10×20” (rear) M Double Spoke Style 343 wheels with 265/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport (front) and 315/30 Toyo R888R (rear) tyres, H&R lowering springs (front), custom anti-brake fade modification, Cool Carbon pads (front), EBC Redstuff pads (rear), ECS braided brake lines with race fluid
EXTERIOR Matt black wing vents and kidney grilles, Top Speed drag type rear spoiler, BMW M Performance carbon diffuser
INTERIOR Carbon dashboard trim, carbon extended DCT shift paddles, carbon steering wheel insert
THANKS My son Fraser who helps me with every mod and enjoys the car as much as I do, Imran at evolveautomotive.com for supplying the best map available, Paul at caesarcaralarms.co.uk for fitting my meth kit like a factory install, and Martyn and Dr Watson at Scotts Performance Cars for everything else
“It’s a very comprehensive range of engine upgrades and it has resulted in a dyno-tested 820hp, which is a monstrous amount of power in anyone’s book”
“This is where Nick’s M5 journey ventures off-piste and heads in a direction that’s not yet well-established in the UK and that’s meth injection”
Home-made air filter setup was a bargain and works brilliantly. Scoops came from the Screwfix catalogue. Uprated pads and braided hoses improve stopping power. Sexy carbon extended shift paddles. You can’t go wrong with carbon trim. H&R lowering springs at the front give this M5 a raked look. One gallon tank for meth injection kit.