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Epic Sound Battle: Four Generations of BMW M5s Going at It

Over the years, BMW launched no less than five M5 models. Sure, if you want to count the E12 M535i as an M5 too, that number would go up to 6 but as far as BMW is concerned, that was not an actual M car.
BMW M5 exhaust comparo 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
Out of the five models they launched, we have four of them line-up in the video below to answer an age-old question: which one sounds best? The question is relevant as when it comes to the sound they make, the performance can be left out. It wouldn’t be fair to compare cars that have over 20 years of technology difference in between them.

What we’re looking at here is, therefore, a comparison between the E34, E39, E60 and F10 M5 models. Different engine architectures, different displacements and different exhausts can be heard in the video below.

Unfortunately, they were not stock except maybe from the F10 M5 and aftermarket exhaust have the ability to change completely the way a car sounds. However, it’s still a fun exercise to see them all at work.

The E34 M5 used an inline 6-cylinder 3.5-liter engine initially that was derived from the M88/1 unit used on the legendary M1. Later on some cars were fitted with a 3.8-liter version of that same engine. Unfortunately, we don’t know what year the car in the video is so we’re just going to leave it at that.

The E39 M5, however, used only one engine throughout its production and that was the legendary S62 4.9-liter V8. It used to make 400 HP and brought along a sound that is still claimed by many as the best ever in a BMW.

Moving on, we have the E60 M5 in our grasp, fitted with a 5-liter V10 engine that used Formula 1 technology from the days BMW was still involved in the sport. It makes 507 HP and 520 Nm (384 lb-ft) of torque, numbers more than enough for a big car such as the E60.

Last, but not least, we have the newest member of the family. Returning to a V8 configuration, the F10 M5 was widely criticized for its sound that lacks a punch, a thrill that everyone expected. Sure, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo mill delivers performance like never before but the aural experience definitely can’t live up to the expectations, at least not in stock guise.

So, how would you rank the four cars in the video? If you ask me the top would go E39, E34, E60 and, in last place, the F10 model. Of course, the whole thing is based on what we hear in this particular clip and I’m sure that when fitted with different (or stock) exhausts, things could go a different way.

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