Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
7/21/08 12:00 a.m.
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For about $80,000, BMW's newest M5 sedan should do a fine job of impressing passersby and potential dates, but what about the driving experience? That's a different kettle of fish. Although it has all the right components, including a 5-liter V10 that generates 500 horsepower, the car is let down by its intrusive electronic gadgetry.

There are many options meant to enhance the driving experience, but honestly, we'd prefer a little less from our ultimate driving machine. We can't blame the highly capable V10, of course. Rather, it's the balky, confused manumatic gearbox. With seven (yes, seven) forward gears, the car spends a lot of time shifting between cogs.

The problem is that unless you're wailing out full-throttle upshifts, the gear changes are unsettling and very rough--fun, but hardly luxurious. We also noticed that while it's hard to argue with 500 horsepower, we'd probably rather have the V8 from the latest M3, especially if it came with the slick six-speed manual from its little brother.

The technology-gone-wrong sensation was present in the ergonomics of the car, as well. We're still split on the iDrive, but we were all in agreement that the active seat bolsters were an abomination. When the time came to turn the car back in, we were all ready to see it go.

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