2013-2016 BMW M5s are dangerously cheap right now

When people think of the greatest BMW M5 or all-time, it seems that the E39 and E60 generations get the most attention. And why wouldn’t they? Beautiful, athletic sedans with signature intake and exhaust notes, rear-wheel drive, and they can be found with a manual transmission (at least in the US). I heard The garageEditor Andrew Collins uses the term “Executive Express”, and there’s no better two-word description for these legendary M cars. But what about the generations that came after the E60, which ended in 2010?

The F10 BMW M5 was introduced in 2011 and then made its US debut for the 2013 model year. It’s become a massive performance luxury affair over the past two years and might appeal to anyone who are looking to spend under $40,000 on a big, fast sedan. In fact, it seems like $35,000 isn’t outside the realm of possibility to pick up one of these luxurious, opulent beasts with less than 100,000 miles on its dash, which also had an original base MSRP of $91,200.

It features a host of firsts and lasts in the line of the iconic fast sedan: it was the first generation to feature a turbocharged engine, but the last to have hydraulic steering and an available manual transmission (although very rare and very expensive) in the USA. It was also the last rear-wheel-drive only M5. Opinions vary, but it seems most people consider the F10 to have many improvements over the E60 in terms of refinement and overall performance.

The F10 M5’s maintenance schedule and costs might not be too much of a headache either. For a BMW, anyway. Here’s why the F10 is a great used luxury performance vehicle, plus what to look for if you’re looking for one.

Good

For my taste, the F10 M5 is the best of modernity. Between its looks, performance and configuration, this is a compelling package for the cost of a moderate-mileage example, even in our still-weird used-car market. While the E60 needs revving up to feel its immense 500 horsepower, the F10’s S63B44T0 twin-turbo V8 has all 502 lb-ft of torque available from just 1,500 rpm. It’s also a hot-V, which means the turbos sit in the valley of the engine, which reduces turbo lag and allows for better underhood wrapping (although that doesn’t always bode well for the recooling). That means 0-60 mph can be achieved with a bit of guts in less than four seconds, and with full 553-591 horsepower and 502-516 lb-ft of torque (depending on year and the Competition package versus the non-Competition package) sent to the rear wheels exclusively via a BMW Active M differential, it seems like everyone is reporting it’s an all-out riot.

The F10 was the last M5 to have hydraulic power steering, dubbed M Servotronic, which enthusiasts care. Many complaints about modern BMW electric power steering, myself included, point out that it’s nowhere near as good as previous hydraulically-actuated systems in terms of feel, sharpness, and everything else you’re looking for in such a crucial input. The F10 M5’s engine was also the first M engine to feature Valvetronic, which is BMW’s neat induction method without a throttle body.

But does it look like a real M car? Given its powerful but not very expressive engine, some critics like Vicki Butler-Henderson for fifth gear seem to agree that the F10 lacks the raw emotion that was found in the E60’s voracious V10, and a crucial trait for those who remember the glory days of BMW Films.

The bad

We always rate on a curve when judging BMW’s reliability and maintenance costs, but really, the F10 doesn’t look too atrocious.

Aftermarket BMW parts are incredibly expensive, but water is also wet, and genuine spares are significantly cheaper than anything with a BMW logo printed on its box. Moreover, as we always sing the gospel here at The garageDIY with enough preparation, time and the right tools can save you a lot of money.

Judging from some research on the massive F10.M5Post.com forum and reported complaints, the F10 M5 doesn’t seem to have any common major issues. Owners report minor oil and coolant leaks, high oil consumption, suspension rattling, ignition issues, and fuel injection issues. These are all fairly minor issues in the grand scheme of European performance cars, all of which are detailed on the BMW forums.

Still, there are minor annoyances, recalls, and glitches that were ironed out as the F10 generation continued. Things like a creepy transmission error that can show up on the dash, or weird rattles here and there, are all covered by ExoticCarHacks.com. For anyone who’s read horror stories about rod bearings in other Bimmers, massive oil leaks and labor-intensive turbo replacements like on other BMWs, everything that’s not so bad.

And speaking of turbos: replacing them, while undoubtedly expensive, seems like a fairly straightforward task for any enthusiast as they sit right above the engine. This brings us to our next important point: tunability.

the rowdy

The 4.4-liter twin-turbo S63 V8 made its debut in a brutal sports sedan with the F10 and is still in pupil-dilation duty today. Hilariously, 553-567 horsepower (the Competition version has a bit more) is a very low floor for the kind of power this mass can produce.

The first modification that comes to mind is tuning, and there are several great options for increasing horsepower with ECU tuning (er, DME since it’s a BMW). Brands like RaceChip, VR Tuned, Burger Tuning, PE Tuned, and BPM Sport (among many others) all offer methods for adding an extra 60-120 horsepower, depending on the method, additional mods, and other factors. Intake and exhaust mods are also all the rage, and who could forget to swap in upgraded turbos? Intercoolers and water-methanol injection are also popular upgrade areas. Although I have no personal experience with these, RaceChip or Burger Tuning seem to be the quickest/easiest options, as they are overlay bits that do not reflash the vehicle’s factory DME.

Like original service parts, replacement parts carry a small premium. Well, in some cases a huge bounty, but only because it seems carbon fiber upgraded intake parts are all the rage, and the turbo core charges are worth their weight in gold. Still, an extra 150-200 horsepower seems like a reasonable expectation after a few modifications, and 1,000 horsepower is possible with patience and a heavy wallet.

Focusing on the suspension, there’s no shortage of the usual suspects for maximizing handling, including aftermarket adaptive dampers, easy-to-upgrade coilovers, and fuller coilover upgrades. Sway bars, springs and even a huge selection of aftermarket brakes are also available to reign in all that massive weight, grip and power.

Why not?

An F10 M5 modified by German tuner Hartge.

If you’re looking for a wild performance sedan to cruise before the sun goes down on heavy use of internal combustion, the F10 M5 is a compelling option. The market is never short of examples available before or after LCI (which stands for Life Cycle Impulse) – the latter has some improvements to the exterior, interior and infotainment of the 5er.
All things being equal, such as a good maintenance history, no major issues, and overall good condition, especially if you’re inclined to take care of it yourself. Fuel economy can be painful based on weekly mileage, since factory economy is 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, and diving deep into the aftermarket would surely lower those numbers. And, let’s face it, it will never be as agile and athletic as its little brother the F80 BMW M3. But for anyone looking for immense power in a comfortable package that can fend for itself, the silver 2022 Hyundai Elantra N certainly sounds appealing.

Lee J. Murillo