Top Gear’s Original Review of the E61 BMW M5 Touring


Look at an ad listing for an E61 BMW M5 Touring for sale and the first thing that will likely come to mind is its unreliability. The wallets of E60/E61 M5 owners line the floors of independent BMW mechanics, due to their quite frankly dismal reputation for reliability. However, the E61 BMW M5 Touring is a car that will always tempt enthusiasts to take the risk because it’s just such a special car. This retro-review from Top Gear reminds us why.

Back when the E61 M5 Touring was new, two TG journalists took one from London to Retorbido, Italy to visit the Brasilia factory and pick up a coffee machine. That’s right, they drove 820 miles and roughly thirteen hours to pick up a single coffee machine for the TG office. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

During their trip, mostly through France, they had the chance to really get to know the E61 BMW M5 Touring while it was still new in their minds, without any improved M5s clouding their judgement. More importantly, they had the chance to judge it with the legendary E39 M5 being a recent memory. The praise and criticisms were both interesting to read and prove just how far the current crop of M5s has come.

BMW E61 M5 Touring 17 830x528

For instance, the 5.0 liter naturally-aspirated V10 obviously stole the show but not so much for its 500 horsepower. Instead, its silky smoothness, fantastic noise, and ease of use made it a star. Nowadays, we talk about the frankly absurd performance of modern M5s but we don’t talk so much about actually using the engine itself because it just feels like an extremely competent workhorse and not something truly special, as the V10 did.

However, it’s not all praise. The six-speed SMG semi-automatic gearbox was as annoying to use as we remember, with no real Goldilocks setup. It also featured far too much techno-gadgetry that wasn’t quite ready yet.

Still, the E61 BMW M5 Touring was a very special car and remains one today. So if you’re browsing car classifieds and you come across one, maybe pause for just a bit longer than usual because it still is a very special machine and one that will feel even more special with the benefit of hindsight. Just prepare your wallet.

[Source: Top Gear]



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