For the last month or two, I've been helping my friend Max with finding a car. He wanted to replace his 1998 Nissan Maxima he's had since he started driving. He wanted something that had 4 doors, was comfortable and reasonably fast. We looked at plenty of cars, from the Porsche Panamera to the 2011 Jaguar XJ. The XJ was the front runner for a long while, until we drove the 2011 5 series. The driving dynamics of that car are unmatched in its class. But a regular old 5 series wouldn't do. In a couple of years, everyone will have one and since the F10 M5 is yet even to be revealed, the new five series was ruled out. That left the current generation 7 series. We drove one and it was surprisingly quick and the luxury features were beyond amazing, but it was simply too big. That left only one car in the BMW range that fit the bill. The e60 M5. Once the decision had been made to get an M5 it was less than 2 weeks before we were at BMW of Santa Maria, CA staring at a gorgeous Indianapolis red M5.
Our view from the plane from Tucson.
We left Tucson at 630 that morning on a flight to LAX, where we would be connecting with a short flight to Santa Barbara. Everything went very smoothly and both flights were early to our destinations. That's where the smoothness ended however. The dealership had organized for us to be picked up from the airport in Santa Barbara and be driven to the dealership. We were expecting to be picked up by a sales rep in maybe a 5 series or maybe even a 7 series, at worst a 3er. After waiting for more than 20 minutes after our scheduled pick up time, our driver finally arrived, in nothing other than a Chevy Venture. Yep, a Chevy Venture mini van. Our driver (who will not be named) was less than charismatic. All in all I think he may have said a total of 25 words to the two of us on the hour long trip. He asked where we were from (when we answered he said, and I quote, "Oh.") and asked for directions out of the airport. But I digress.
The M5, as it sat at the dealership.
We finally arrived at BMW Santa Maria after a very unprofessional journey to a warm welcome. As soon as we stepped in we were greeted by one of the floor managers, who told us the internet sales manager would be right with us. After quick introductions we discussed how Max would be paying for his new beast. He decided to place a ~85% down payment and to finance the rest with the goal of building credit, since as a young person he didn't have any credit to speak of. We were then asked politely to wait while he went and talked to the financial manager. We took this opportunity to go have a closer look at the M5. It was an absolutely gorgeous car. Everything was perfect, and the color looked amazing in the California sun. After ogling the car for a considerable amount of time, we went back inside to talk with the salesman. We were presented with a 25% interest rate. We couldn't believe it. At worst, car finance rates are about double the house mortgage rate, which was close to 3 percent. There was no excuse for such a high rate. The finance manager insisted that the banks wouldn't allow them to go any lower. We told them we wouldn't do the deal for anything less than 18%. They insisted there was nothing more they could do, we insisted that was bullshit, so we started packing our bags. As soon as we did so, the manager gave in and told us "I'll see what I can do". He stepped out and we waited for all of five minutes when he returned and said "I can do 17.99%". We knew he could do better than that, yet he continued to tell us that it was out of their hands. So we asked to see where it said what the lowest rate was for a first time buyer. As he stepped out to retrieve the documentation, which may or not have existed, we walked. We went across the street to Jamba Juice where we laughed about the ballsiness of what had just been done. Within 10 minutes of leaving, Max received a phone call from the dealer ship saying they could get us 15 percent. This was still unacceptable, and he told them so. He told them it was a slap in the face to receive the initial offer of 25% and that our over all experience for the day was much poorer than anticipated. Once again they said they'd see what they could do. Once again we were shocked at the boldness of our actions, to the point where we were worried we would have to take a taxi back to Tucson. After 45 minutes of uncertainty they called again. They were "able to get" us a rate of 9.99% and even told us that they'd take the cost of lunch off the car. That was more like it. We returned to the dealership to lots of apologies and less than 30 minutes later, we were on the road.
Polarizing filters have an interesting effect on the M5's windows.
Just in case the cops gave us any trouble.
The M5 drove like a dream. It rode incredibly smoothly, ironing out the imperfections in the road without alienating the driver from it. It accelerated like a rocket and was incredibly stable at high speed. The car had no issues cruising at 100+ mph. About 3 quarters of the way through our first leg of the journey, we exited off the highway to a beach side road somewhere near Santa Barbara to take pictures. As we we're turning around at the end of the road, a beautiful black (they all happened to be black back then) 1988 M5 drove up. There was no way we were going to let this opportunity slide. We chased it down and asked the driver if he'd be ok with us taking some pictures of it with the new M5. He agreed, telling us that he was driving the car back to Anaheim for his friend who had just purchased it. Sounded awfully familiar. After an impromptu photoshoot and some small talk about the cars, we both took off and continued our journeys.
From then on it was smooth sailing as we passed through LA and continued on to Indio, where we stopped for some dinner. We got some compliments on the car as we sat near the window closest to where it was parked. When you get a new car, all you want to do is look at it. After dinner, we decided it was due time we tried out the M button. We didn't want to unlock the full power of the 5.0 liter V10 until we were familiar with the car. Naturally, Max went first. He got up to about 60 mph, pressed the button, dropped it into 4th, and then hammered it. We were thrown backwards with incredible force as the M5 effortlessly rocketed up to twice the speed we had been going. The M5 is plenty quick without the M button being depressed. With 400hp and a sharp suspension it hardly leaves anything to be desired, but the M button transforms the car into something that must be experienced to be believed. When it was my turn I decided to go from a standing start at the beginning of an on ramp from a rest stop. We were at 110mph before we were even on the highway. This car is truly something to behold.
The M5 is the absolute best of both worlds, it's smooth and comfortable when you need it to be, and an absolute beast at the push of a button. The car leaves nothing to be desired. Long story short, you should get an M5.
Additional photos coming soon.