One of the most beloved BMW M5s of all time is the E60-generation. Admittedly, the regular E60 5 Series is pretty maligned for its “Bangle-Butt” styling, overly complicated electronics and being the first 5er to really lose its purity. However, the E60-gen BMW M5 is beloved, despite having most of the same issues. There’s one reason why and it lies under the E60 M5’s hood. The 5.0 liter naturally-aspirated V10 that powered the E60 M5 is still considered a legend among BMW enthusiasts. So driving an E60 M5 sounds like it would be an incredible experience for a Bimmer fan. Unless it has its SMG transmission, of course.
In this article from Car Throttle, we see how the SMG ‘box can almost ruin the experience of driving one of the best BMW engines of all time.
There were two different transmission options offered on the E60-gen BMW M5: A six-speed manual or an SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox). The SMG was essentially the automatic version and was the predecessor to BMW’s current dual-clutch gearbox. It used a single, automatic clutch to swap cogs and shifted incredibly quickly. However, it is largely hated by the BMW enthusiast community for being clunky, rough and slower than is currently accepted. While the actual act of shifting gears was violently rapid, it took too long for the brain to figure out when to shift, ending up making the shifts seem jerky and sloppy.
Here’s what Car Throttle had to say about the E60 BMW M5’s SMG. “With each upshift there’s a pause that seems to last an eternity, after which point the whole car lurches as another of the transmission’s seven ratios is haphazardly slotted in. The difference in speed between this and a regular manual shift must surely be negligible, and certainly not enough to warrant being lumbered with this incredibly inadequate setup.”
Despite the SMG being pretty horrid, it didn’t completely ruin the E60 M5. That’s because while the SMG is aggravating, “the V10 was even more spectacular that I’d dared imagine. You’re treated to a crisp throttle response every time you play with the long-travel accelerator pedal, followed by a strong, linear pull than pins you to the backrest as the rev counter needle hurtles toward the 8000rpm mark.”
Basically, a screaming V10 can make you forget about a lot of problems, so the E60-generation BMW M5 shouldn’t be overlooked. Just make sure to get one with a manual.