2000 BMW M5 4.9 litre petrol from UK and Ireland
One of world's all time great cars - lives up to the tagline 'The Ultimate Driving Machine'
Differential input shaft seal oil leak (2013).
Pixels on instrument cluster (2013).
Driver's side mirror glass liquid leak (2013).
Interior rear view mirror liquid leak (2014).
Central door locking actuators - driver's side front and rear (2015).
Other than that - normal wear and tear stuff like tyres, brake pads etc.
One of the world's all time great cars, but much like us humans it's not absolutely perfect, but near enough...
Build-wise, it's a typical BMW. Be that as it may, there are some of you who have had bad experiences with these cars, but I am sure there are many more who have shared the same experience that I have with the brand.
I read all the horror stories regarding the M cars, but decided to take the risk and buy one anyway - and I am so glad I did!
My example had done 121k when I bought it, and she gave me over 30k of hassle free motoring before I finally got bored and fancied a change to the V10 version.
So, what's it like to drive, and is there anything that could have been improved?
a) Performance wise the car is terrific, but there has always been one thing that niggled me - BMW cracked the 100bhp/litre some years before, so why could they only cook up 80bhp/litre out of the S62? It's not that 400bhp is weak by no means, but it really should have been 495bhp with the capability they had at the time. (Admittedly they would have had to improve the V10 significantly if they had released the E39 with nearly 500bhp!).
b) The handling is OK for the size of car. I will only say it is OK because from a 'feel' standpoint a E46 330 Sport will show this car a clean pair of heals on a corner. I think this may have something to do with the steering configuration not being rack and pinion. It lacks the precision and feel of a proper steering rack.
c) The gear change - by far my biggest gripe about the car. Despite a fluid change, engaging low gears when cold is difficult, and even when warm I don't like the 'hesitation' posed by the stick when trying to engage gears - very notchy.
d) The servotronic steering is nice and light when not in sport mode, probably a little too light, yet when in sport mode the steering is too heavy!
In conclusion: the inside scoop says that BMW did not intend to make a M5 in this body shape, and only commissioned such a car after competition from Mercedes and Jaguar, so it is amazing what the boys at M division can do at short notice!
The engine is a masterpiece (even if it does only produce 400bhp from 4.9 litres!). Although to the uninitiated it can sound like a diesel at the top end due to VANOS gear tolerances. At the time of production the engine was supposed to be the world's most technically advanced car engine; this is believable.
As far as the rest of the car is concerned, it's not too far removed from a ordinary 5 Series. There is no fancy suspension technology unlike its successor, and to some, this is what has made the car very popular as it is claimed that it is more 'involving' to drive.
Well, having just got my hands on a V10 I can dismiss such talk as hogwash! It's not that the E39 isn't a great car, it's just that BMW rewrote the rule book with the E60 and it's demonstrably better in every way.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd September, 2016