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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 BMW M5 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 BMW M5 Overview

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You know that feeling you get whenever you approach someone you're really attracted to? The one that makes you all light in the head and renders your speech and mobility functions completely useless? That's the same feeling car enthusiasts experience whenever they see, smell or—dare they even think it—sit in a BMW M5. For these individuals, the M5 is the holy grail of the automotive world and they must feel both admiration and envy toward the lucky few who can actually afford one of these Bavarian beauties. To add insult to injury, the panic factor for those without an M5 has been magnified ten fold as BMW has recently announced that 2003 will be the last year for the current M5 body style.

Why, you may wonder, is this particular sedan so alluring to so many people? With the M5, something more than engineering was slipped into the mix. Call it passion or love or even magic, but all the planets must have been lined up correctly the day this car emerged from the factory because there really is no other like it.

The M5 receives a leg up on its competition even before any of its "M" components are put in place; that's because the basis for the M5 is the excellent 5 Series sedan, already a respectable performer in its own right. To the 5's chassis, the M adds a reworked suspension comprised of firmer springs and shocks, low-friction ball joints in place of traditional rubber bushings, recalibrated speed-sensitive power steering and unique front and rear auxiliary polyurethane springs to help eliminate jounce. At the rear, the M gets a limited-slip differential and at each wheel Z-rated tires and 13-inch ventilated disc brakes. The M5's truly remarkable ride and handling characteristics are further enabled by the presence of BMW's Dynamic Stability Control program that combines a complex traction control and stability management system into a single unit.

At the heart of the M5 is a very special engine, one produced deep within the working world of the M performance division and shared by no other car in the 5 Series line. The 5.0-liter V8 M engine generates a tire-melting 394 horsepower, all of which is readily available for display with little more than a touch of the car's throttle. A special M-Dynamic Driving Control feature allows you as the driver to select between two throttle positions, one for normal driving and one for sport driving; the latter picks up the car's off-the-line pace by a considerable margin. The M5 comes equipped with a flawless six-speed manual and heavily-weighted clutch pedal that make for perfect engagements every time you move your wrist. If you don't know how to drive a stick, you're out of luck because the M5 does not offer an automatic transmission.

To drive the M5 is to experience a little slice of heaven on wheels. The car feels fantastically stable at high speeds yet is completely compliant in its ride. You'll love the way the fat three-spoke steering wheel feels in your hands and how absolutely responsive it is to quick inputs. In the M5, you'll find yourself pushing the limits of what you thought possible, charging into wide-radius sweeps at twice the posted speed limit and blasting past multiple cars as you pass them on single lane roads. Though the M5 has a vast supply of power under its hood, you'll never feel as though it's uncontrollable or mismatched to the ability of the car's suspension and steering. This is the harmony we were talking about earlier, the absolute definition of perfection on wheels.

Luxury is also an integral part of the M5 equation and here BMW has done an excellent job of blending comfort with functionality. The M5's 16-way power adjustable sport seats are specially designed for hard driving and even the rear seats are shaped to hold passengers in place. The M5's interior is handsomely appointed in your choice of sport or luxury motifs and the list of standard features is as long as the number of accolades this car has received over the years. Beyond what you'd expect of a car in this class—automatic temperature control, on-board navigation, remote entry, etc.—there are a host of subtle touches that thrill and delight; features such as the lighted shift knob on the six-speed manual and the special stitching that adorns the seats, steering wheel and shift boot. To protect its occupants, every M5 comes standard with front side-impact airbags and a front and rear-seat head-airbag curtain.

If the standard equipment list is not good enough, you still have a few options worth adding: they include a brilliant-sounding Harman Kardon audio system, sonar activated parking assist, split-folding rear seat with built-in ski sack and a power rear sunshade. Just remember, even as you are reading this, the last of the M5's are probably trickling off the dealers lots, so if you want a new one, you better move as quickly as the M5.

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