In-Depth Frozen Gray F10 M5 vs E92 M3 Comparison Review by Owner

Run-in / Break-in Completed

Finally, the time has come to remove the chastity belt. All that effort nursing her has finally paid off. Did the 2000 km servicing at the M dealer (Munich Automobiles Singapore) last Sat morning. They did the servicing at their pristine service bays located right next to the customer/sales lounge so u can see what they do in air-conditioned bliss. The service bays are so squeaky clean u can almost eat off it. I took a few quick pictures of the servicing and added pictures of the carbon fibre box they used to contain the delivery kit. I left out those pictures in the previous thread. The carbon box is really lovely. Every M owner gets one of these with an owner’s plaque from them at delivery. The M1 old fart was there this moment, but gone the next, so apologies, I din managed to snap any pictures of it for u oldies. A warning to those who is ordering your M5 with aluminium trim. The centre piece at the gear housing scratches very easily. Mine has already seen a few scratches from my watch strap. The paint on that trim is very thin and comes off very easily. I have since ordered a piano black piece to replace it.

They changed both the engine and differential oil. When I chatted with the M specialist about the grinding noise in the rear differential on my M3 previously, he mentioned that there is a new differential oil released last Oct (2011) for that. I am not sure if that new oil replaces the previous oil with FM booster. Anyway, the service was quick and uneventful. For the first time, I actually enjoy going to the dealership. I have had so much of their Nespresso coffee that I am almost on first name basis with the coffee lady. Anyway, I grabbed the keys to the chastity belt from the SA and was out of the place faster than u could say “have a good weekend.”

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Owners Experience

I have a long list of items to validate and experience. The long story short, the power of this car is disgusting!!! I figure most reviews have pretty much used up all the superlatives I might as well used my own. I experimented with the power at various gears and reached the conclusion that the car has way too much power than I have the balls (or license) to deploy on public roads. 1st gear is pretty useless at full throttle as the traction control will arrest the acceleration in most situations unless you are doing in on a nicely paved stretch of tarmac. At 1st gear, u are pretty much yanking the right paddle to go 2nd the moment u put your foot down. I was not prepared for this and actually had the rev cut spoiling the fun for me on a few occasions.

Apart from the amount of power, I am particularly curious about the power delivery. Some journalists have commented that there is lag at higher gear. That is indeed true for 6th and 7th, and to some extent, 5th. I believe that has to do with the engine rev. When you are at the higher gear, you are likely to be cruising at highway speeds, and consequently, at lower rev. When you give it the beans in such situation, it takes more time for the turbo to build boost. The fact that it reaches peak torque at 1500 rpm does not mean that u get max torque the moment u put pedal to the metal. One just needs to remember not to do 100% throttle (with kickdown) as that would make the computer deliver max thrust to u, which requires max boost, and equating to lag. Aggressive, but progressive throttle input is key.

The DCT software has to come in for some stick at this point. I tried driving the car in D2 and the shift pattern was not aggressive enough for spirited driving, but ok for normal driving. The D3 software is written by a psycho with an obsession with the number “2.” The damn thing would hang on to 2nd for dear life right up to almost 7000 rpm even after I eased off on the throttle. The M3’s D5 on the other hand, is perfectly cooked for spirited driving without going mental. I find myself driving in S2 in the M5 most of the time, which is perfectly fine as I love the paddle feel in the M5. Many journalists have initially criticised the paddle feel of the McLaren fax machine as requiring unnecessary amount of effort. I feel the same about the M3’s paddles, which is why I mostly drive it in D5. It is stiff and awkward unlike the M5’s crisp and soft action. I really have to look into replacing those paddles on the M3 as I find myself driving it in S mode a lot more these days to get more out of the car. Yes, you can blame the M5 for that.

M5 Steering: To add on to my initial review of the M5’s steering, it should be noted that the M5’s steering transmits more road “noise” to the driver in the form of low frequency vibration. It’s especially evident when driving the car back to back with the M3. The M3’s steering while transmitting bumps and knocks to your hands, never has that constant vibration. The vibration is strongest when holding the wheel on the 6 o’clock position, but lesser on the 9 and 3 position. The dealer did a round of wheel balancing on the front tires and it helped a bit, but not by much. The dealer’s test drive car exhibits the same characteristic so I reckon that’s inherent in the car. It could be harder bushings used on the steering rack. It’s not a big deal and most M5 owners don’t seem to complain about it.

M5 vs. M3: I finally have time to drive my M3 after mostly driving the M5 the past 2 weeks just to clock the required mileage. The lure to drive the M3 is strong. For a start, the M3 with performance exhaust sounds better. A lot better in fact! I also think the E92 M3 is the most beautiful BMW of all time followed closely by the new M6 and current Z4. It’s a perfect amalgamation of aggression and styling. The Frozen Gray paint job is certainly the icing on the cake. Much has been said (or cursed) against the M5’s active sound. I have to admit that I was initially uncomfortable the first few days of taking ownership of the car on learning that the sound is not piped in, but faked. That is like marrying the perfect woman only to learn that she slept with your best mate previously*. You never quite get it out of your mind. I later found out that the sound is played back off a pre-recorded engine screaming on a dyno. That’s like knowing your wife and mate were dead drunk and couldn’t remember anything on the offending act *. Yeah, a bit better now. I think I can live with it. On a serious note on sound, the M5 does not make a whole lot of it even in Sport Plus throttle setting under full throttle relative to the M3. It sounds natural and unobtrusive while at it. What you do get a lot of, is the burble (or fart) when up shifting or lift-off. That takes some getting used to, but is nicely aggressive and I have warmed up to it. At this stage of the ownership, I find myself spending more time pressed against the seat and getting scared than listening out for the sound. I have to pay specific attention to the sound in order to judge it. The power is that domineering when deployed.

Steering wheel: I like the M3’s steering wheel a lot better. It has quicker ratio and is nicely smaller in diameter. If only the M5 came with the new M6’s steering wheel instead of the truck-like wheel. Hopefully, that can be retrofitted.

Handling: Not much to add from my initial review. The M3 is definitely the more nimble, but not by as much as the size differential between them. The M5 trounces the M3 in ride quality even in Sport Plus suspension setting. In the M3, you find yourself moving around quite a lot from the road imperfections, which is plenty many these days due to the countless road works going on. There seemed to be a proportional relationship between the amount of road diggings and bad economic indicators. Anyway, you will never find the handling lacking in the M5 on public roads.

Brakes: This is where I am not particularly happy with my M5. I find myself getting caught out by the lack of deceleration when the lights turned amber on me. Despite the beefy 6 potter up front, the initial bite is lacking. I have done 2 rounds of brake bedding exercise on the car and it has not improved much. I think the weight of the car is the culprit here. The brakes do modulate very well so a bigger braking force is required. I am not used to this and hates it. I doubt the carbon ceramic brakes would help in the bite dept as it’s mostly for fade resistance. A stronger brake pumping force is required I think, which I doubt the dealer would do for me. Will wait for reviews of the carbon ceramics to see if it helps.

Power: It’s cruel how the M5 makes the M3 feel like a screaming kid going up against a fully grown adult with arms swinging, but held back simply by an arm pressed against the head. You get the picture. The M3 makes a lot of noise, very nice ones, but the pace doesn’t commensurate with the sound until it hits 5000 rpm. The M5 is surprisingly rev happy and pulls all the way to the redline unlike my previous N54. It feels like a NA block on steroids. The M5 has lag, but so does the M3. The M5 takes time to build boost in some situations while the M3 takes time to build revs, so they are pretty much equal at the end of the day. The torque everywhere characteristic of the S63TU makes driving around town a hassle free affair. Keep the M5 above 2000 rpm in lower gears (1, 2, 3) and above 3000 rpm for the higher gears and the power is pretty much instant. However, M needs to work on reducing lag for the next M3. You can’t take both sound and response away from enthusiasts at the same time even though you are giving more power/torque. They need a 3rd turbo for that I think.

Decisions: Am I keeping the M3? Yes, I would love to and I fully intend to for the near future. However, much of that hinges on how well my wife acclimatises to the M3. I gave her an orientation drive on the M3 last weekend. I made the mistake of starting her off with M button engaged with D5. She was jerking the car so hard I thought she had other ideas in mind. Naturally, she wasn’t reaching for her proverbial cheque book after this test drive. So long as she doesn’t paint the town frozen gray, I will try to keep the M3 until something else sexy comes along. Something that rhymes with a Z and M would do just nice. I hope we have not seen the last of the na V8s. Personally, I couldn’t care less if polar bears are evicted from the North pole. Migrate to the South pole already. I heard they are pretty good swimmers.

After Thoughts: It’s kinda crazy owning a high performance car in Singapore when our highway speed limit is 90 kph. Where does one use all that power? This might well be my last high performance car. I will likely focus more on handling and feel going forward. I shared my thoughts with my close friends and they promptly proceeded to laugh their heads off at me with ridicule. They din believe a word of what I said. Those bastards.

It’s quite silly to see people debating all day on whether an M5 or an AMG E63 is quicker in the straights. The difference is marginal at best and has no bearing whatsoever on the roads. We should congratulate one another for owning such fine automobiles instead of bickering all day. Can’t we all just get along??? The next time I see an AMG E63 on the road, I will give it a thumbs-up thinking “my M5 smokes your AMG”…

* Disclaimer: Entirely fictitious and in no way a personal experience

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Original Thread:

2013 BMW M6 UK and German Pricing Announced at 20-28% Higher Than F10 M5