The BMW E39 M5 is probably the most loved M5 model the Germans ever made. Even the marvelous E60 M5 fitted with the 500 HP 5-liter V10 engine that wrote history back in the day doesn’t seem to come close to the amount of love enthusiasts show the E39. Therefore, the first V8-fitted M car may very well be winning in a popularity contest.
The guys from Motor Trend also seem to have a soft spot for the legendary BMW. As a matter of fact, they took things a bit further and asked themselves and the audience if it could, in any way, be possible that the true successor of the E39 M5 is actually the 2016 Chevy SS. I know it sounds a bit ludicrous but they do have some logical arguments for such a comparison.
The two use similar recipes. They are both sedans, both use naturally aspirated V8 engines and have similar performance figures, even though there’s a difference of about 15 years between them. Considering the SS was developed with the help of some M5 fans, the comparison makes even more sense. The only place where the two are drastically differentiated is inside the cabin, where the Chevy definitely doesn’t feel like a luxurious sedan, as is the case with the older M5.
Taken around the track, Randy Pobst, the Motor Trend race car driver, even found that they are separated by just a bit over 1 second over a lap time. Sure, considering the length of the track, it is a noticeable difference but then again, the M5 is 15 years old and one couldn’t expect it to run as fast as when it was new. Furthermore, as Jason says, one of the M5’s shocks was defective and, even though it ran on modern tires, it did make a difference in the end result.
In the end, the two are closer in feel and performance than we’d imagine. The Chevy might very well be the modern incarnation of the E39 M5 and you might want to get one while you can, as it will go out of production in about a year or so, never to return again.