Unlike the old spaghetti western that culminates in a Mexican standoff between the three antagonists, the 2009 BMW M5 encompasses each quality in a single package--good, bad, and ugly. The good of the 2009 M5 is its race-derived, 500-horsepower V-10 engine, making it BMW's fastest four-door, with a 0-60 time of just 4.5 seconds. The M5 also corners as if it's attached to the proverbial rails and brakes equally as hard as it accelerates.
The bad side of the 2009 M5 is the vehicle's overabundance of technology. BMW's semi-manual SMG transmission is only for fans of a truly harsh shift experience. The no-cost six-speed manual is a far better choice. It's a gem, with crisp throws, precise gates, perfectly arranged pedals, and surprisingly smooth clutch engagement. The technology that commands the suspension, steering, and throttle inputs offers a bewildering 279 combinations through an MDrive menu that can be linked to the steering wheel's MDrive button, which might as well be a panic button for users who can't figure it out. And finally, BMW's frustrating iDrive controller for audio, navigation, and climate settings needs its own manual.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, TheCarConnection.com's editors consider the M5 to be an über-expensive ugly duckling. The optional Madeira Walnut trim, a reddish-brown wood with horizontal graining, looks painted on with a coarse brush. There is brushed-aluminum trim for the discerning buyer, though. The 2009 BMW M5's styling is all business--it won't be encased in a museum like a Jaguar E-Type. If you keep the color choices as conservative as the car, it works--for instance, in the new Carbon Black Metallic exterior.
With a price tag of more than $85,000 and a limited supply, the 2009 M5 will trouble very few folks with its bad and ugly sides. It's a shame more people won't have the chance to sample the good, as it's both a safe, secure sedan and a stunning performer, all the more fascinating due to its hugely obvious flaws.
The Bottom Line:
The stellar performance of the 2009 BMW M5 overshadows its idiosyncrasies and technologically overwrought feel.