You can thank Chris Bangle for the fact that the E60 BMW 5 Series doesn’t receive its fair share of love, like the rest of the 5 Series’ do. The sort of strange “Bangle Butt” rear end and the so-called “Flame Surface” designs never really caught on with many enthusiasts. It just wasn’t the prettiest car in its class at the time and it hurt the car’s reputation. However, there was so much more to the car then that. This is especially true with the E60 BMW M5 and, more importantly, the E61 BMW M5 Touring.
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BMW only made two M5 Tourings over the course of the model’s history, the E34 and the E61. This makes them incredibly rare cars and the latter of which is possibly one of the best M cars of all time.
The E61 BMW M5 Touring was almost identical to the E60 M5 sedan, except for the wagon body style, obviously. However, just the addition of the wagon body sends the E61 M5 into the upper echelons of performance cars history. The standard E60 M5 was fast, very fast. It produced 500 hp from a 5.0 liter V10 and was able to get form 0-60 mph in around 4 seconds, making it one of the fastest, if not the fastest, four-door “saloon” cars of its time. It was an absolute rocket and that engine was a gem. Revving to almost 9,000 rpm, there’s not much else in the automotive world like the S85 V10 engine. It’s a magnificent thing.
One of the best parts about this M5 was that it was available with a manual transmission. Imagine that, 500 hp V10 that revs to 8,500 rpm with a six-speed manual in a family luxury wagon that can carry five adults plus luggage? It’s like having the Millennium Falcon for a car.
Now, I know that the E60 series M5 wasn’t the most livable car to own. It had more complicated electronics than most owners knew how to control and it was quite annoying for a lot of the time. Plus, it had differential issues and wasn’t the most reliable M car of all time. However, once you got it onto the open road and unleashed that V10, none of that other stuff mattered. It was just pure bliss.
There also hasn’t been a Touring M car since, making the E61 M5 the last of its breed. The Touring body style not only made it rare and more practical, but it also improved on those strange looks. What looked odd as a sedan actually became quite pretty as a wagon. And because the M5 Touring so much less aggressive looking than the sedan, it was much more of a sleeper. So the E61 M5 Touring looks great, handles fantastically, can fit an entire family plus the family dog and luggage all while bombing down highways and twisty back roads faster than anything without a Ferrari badge on it. It’s an almost impossible combination to compete with and one that cements the E61 BMW M5 Touring as one of the best cars the M Division has ever produced.