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 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.

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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?