The standard M5 comes with a seven-speed SMG automated manual gearbox, which is apt to make driving the car a simple point-and-shoot affair, convenient when you're driving a vehicle this size with this much power.

This one came with a manual six-speed, which affords its driver a little more work. But if nothing else, pumping the clutch pedal and jerking the shift lever around really puts you in the classic BMW driving mindset. (A tight and twisty road also makes that high-revving engine instantly make a lot more sense.) Rowing manually up and down through the gears lets you instantly appreciate everything else about the car that makes it, well, a BMW M: seating position, steering precision, road-holding poise. Everything works magically in association to make this two-ton sedan a true precision driving instrument. In spite of its size and power, it is actually able to carve canyons with great alacrity. And that's what makes the M5 the king of sport sedans-it's a five-seat people mover that very nearly handles like a real sports car. -KF

2009 BMW M5
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

5.0-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve

Six-speed manual

Peak Power: 500 hp @ 7750 rpm
Peak Torque: 384 lb-ft @ 6100 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.6 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 11 city/ 17 hwy
Price as tested: $94,895

From The Hip

Plus + Seating position, steering precision, unearthly V10 wail

Minus -
Thirsty, optional equipment tends to pile on the $

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