The high-pitched howl of this car’s V10 makes it ar­guably the best-sound­ing BMW M5 yet pro­duced. John Evans tells you what to look for in a used one

Autocar - - USED CARS -

If you can af­ford the de­pre­ci­a­tion on a new, mid-spec su­per­mini cost­ing around £16,500, you can af­ford to run a used, 65,000mile 2007-reg BMW M5 at the same price. Granted, when they come, the M5’s bills will knock you flat on your back but you’ll soon be on your feet, pro­pelled by the de­sire to re-ex­pe­ri­ence that For­mula 1-in­spired 5.0-litre V10, whose 389bhp – ris­ing to 493bhp when you press the M (or Power) but­ton – is di­rected to the rear wheels through a quick-chang­ing, seven-speed, se­quen­tial man­ual gear­box (SMG).

Granted, this best-sell­ing M5, co­de­named E60 – there was an E61 Tour­ing ver­sion, too – hasn’t the charisma of its V8 pre­de­ces­sor, the E39, and prices still have a way to fall. There are some nas­ties to watch out for, in par­tic­u­lar its fond­ness for clutches, its ap­petite for fuel brought into fo­cus by a 70-litre fuel tank that means you’ll be stop­ping ev­ery 200 miles to open your wal­let, and its gen­eral high-cost ways (me­chan­ics call this the ‘M tax’).

But this M5 is still a spec­tac­u­lar way to travel and sooner or later prices will find their level, the best cars will firm up and those who know will talk of it as a ‘fu­ture clas­sic’.

It was launched in 2005, cost­ing £61,750 in stan­dard form. Stan­dard? It had 19in al­loy wheels, sports sus­pen­sion, gearchange pad­dles, a head-up dis­play, a sat-nav, leather trim, quad pipes… we’ll stop there. More im­por­tant, it had gad­gets: that Power but­ton, launch con­trol and 11 shift modes for the SMG ’box (the fastest is se­ri­ously hard on the al­ready over­worked clutch).

The M5 was facelifted in 2007, a move that co­in­cided with the ar­rival of the E61 Tour­ing ver­sion that al­ready in­cor­po­rated the new mods. Changes in­cluded adap­tive cor­ner­ing lights, larger head­rests and visual tweaks (day­time run­ning lights, and LED in­di­ca­tors and tail-lights). Cru­cially, the SMG trans­mis­sion gained up­graded pumps and hard­ware, too. Facelifted cars were re­leased in batches over 12 months, so it’s not un­usual to en­counter a late-2007 M5 that is ac­tu­ally a pre-facelift model.

All M5s re­quire care­ful buy­ing and this E60 is no ex­cep­tion, so drive as many as you can. Re­search the M but­ton and that 11-mode shift sys­tem, and don’t be shy about ex­plor­ing the many per­for­mance per­mu­ta­tions. An owner who won’t let you try the M but­ton in the most ex­treme S6 P500S shift mode is prob­a­bly ter­ri­fied that you’ll ex­pose his car’s bru­talised clutch and clonky diff.

Check not only tyre wear but also whether the rub­ber is bud­get or pre­mium, and test his knowl­edge of en­gine oils. Cas­trol Edge 10W60 should have been its only tip­ple.

Prices are all over the place but you shouldn’t have to pay more than £16,000 for a 2007-reg low-miler. To­wards £24,000 is where the best late-plate BMW Ap­proved Used cars are, be­fore the first of the next-gen F10 M5s hove into view.

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