2003 BMW M5 vs. 2015 Chevrolet SS

BMW M5 | March 12th, 2015 by 10
e 39 m5 chevrolet ss 750x500

Road and Track puts together an unusual yet interesting comparison: a 2003 BMW M5 and the new 2015 Chevrolet SS. The E39 M5 debuted at …

Road and Track puts together an unusual yet interesting comparison: a 2003 BMW M5 and the new 2015 Chevrolet SS.

The E39 M5 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998 and has won over the hearts of enthusiasts ever since. Many regard it to be the finest “saloon” chassis of all time. It’s almost exclusively regarded as the greatest M5 of all time. BMW took used the basics of its 4.4 liter engine and bumped it up to 5.0 liters (BMW says 5, but it’s really 4.9), giving it 400 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque (500 Nm), and a 7,000 rpm redline. Mated to a 6-Speed manual and a limited-slip differential, the M5 was a monster. A monster that can hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. A car that could hit 60 in under 5.0 seconds in 1998 was bordering on supercar performance.

All Chevrolet SS models are powered by a 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 that makes 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The SS sprints from zero to 60 mph in a scant five seconds.

e 39 m5 chevrolet ss 750x500

So which one is a better car? Here is an excerpt from the R&T review:

Why have we brought these cars together, and what makes them so special? Understand that the E39 M5, produced between 1998 and 2003, comes from a high-water period for BMW road cars. During that era, the Bavarians were turning out a specific flavor of automobile: outwardly, status symbols with mass-market appeal; at heart, driver-focused and dynamically impeccable. The E39 is that ideology incarnate, sleeker, meaner, and more capable than any sport sedan prior. So when the folks at BMW M tuned one, they didn’t just throw down the fast-four-door gauntlet. They spiked it through the earth’s core and out the other side.

Like the G8 before it, the SS borrows its Zeta chassis architecture from the Commodore, sized between the current Camaro and Chevy’s Caprice police cruiser. Stashed under the hood is a 6.2-liter LS3 V8, producing 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Curb weight is 3935 pounds, and a clutch-type limited-slip differential is standard.

For 2015, the SS swaps nonadjustable shocks for Magnetic Ride Control (see: magnetorheological suspension, like that in the Corvette Stingray Z51). GM’s close-ratio Tremec six-speed manual transmission, complete with a 3.70:1 axle ratio, becomes a no-cost option. (As in, you pay no monies and receive a manual gearbox. The best things in life, right?) Of course, you can still spec last year’s six-speed paddle-shift automatic and taller 3.27:1 final drive, but you’d be missing the point entirely. Because the Chevy SS is now the only three-pedal, rear-drive sedan with room for five and enough naturally aspirated V8 grunt to give every passenger a hernia. Which raises the question: Could this be a rightful heir to the E39’s throne?

10 responses to “2003 BMW M5 vs. 2015 Chevrolet SS”

  1. Someone2 says:

    I honestly hate these comparisons.

  2. Mike Vella says:

    I really enjoyed that, thanks for posting.

    Sometimes I wonder if the guys that write for RT and CD have a program they run their drafts through to produce these ridiculous passages. :)

    “The E39 is that ideology incarnate, sleeker, meaner, and more capable than any sport sedan prior. So when the folks at BMW M tuned one, they didn’t just throw down the fast-four-door gauntlet. They spiked it through the earth’s core and out the other side.”
    “Subsequent output, a tidy 394 hp, matched that of the Ferrari 360 Modena. The enthusiast media soiled its collective Unterhose.”

    “[T]he Chevy SS is now the only three-pedal, rear-drive sedan with room for five and enough naturally aspirated V8 grunt to give every passenger a hernia.”
    “Torque is everywhere, always. The entire experience is a singular, blunt, pushrod onslaught broken only by hanging moments of clutch engagement.”

  3. That was such a good read. Brilliantly written. Made my E39 M5 article look like it was written in crayon.

  4. jason bourne says:

    Oddball comparison.

    Next up: BMW M3 Sedan vs. Ford Crown Victoria.

  5. Andy Byers says:

    /// “Which raises the question: Could this be a rightful heir to the E39’s throne?” ///

    Wait. What?

    Nobody is asking that question.

    I will take the E39 M5 over ANY domestic garbage.

  6. John Paul Reis says:

    Road&Track had a competition: 2003 BMW M5 VS 2016 CHEVY SS. The new Chevy is a very nice looking car, very beautiful in my opinion. This is directly from Road&Track, their own words “…becuase it still feels so balanced 12 years on. Throttle response? Near preemptive. Nothing is this crisp or smooth, like all eight cylinders operate in some beautiful alternate universe where flywheels are weightless and friction isn’t a thing”. On the other hand, they said the Chevy was stiff, a 2016 model. One of the guys said commenting on the Chevy “Everybody likes a little bit of trashy” LOL Road&Track in the end said “The Chevy can’t take the M5’s crown” & “In terms of overall build quality… the sedan (Chevy) can’t stand up to the flagship (BMW)” A 12 year old German car beating a 2016 American car, with better build quality? Tell me how thats possible. Remeber, GM is Cadillac and Chevy too.

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