I have a question for those of you that own or have driven both an M5 and a Z8. Can you tell that your driving two cars with the same engine? Or does it feel completely because the Z8 is much lighter and a much different car all around? Thanks.
I posted this a while ago- but Ill repost it here instead of telling you to go search for it.
M5: Ultimate Daily Driver
Z8: Fantastic toy
Handle is such a subjective word. For me what it means is very complicated.
It’s not about g-force it can pull, but its part of it. If you’re looking for which car will stick to the road better over expansion joints that you encounter in real life its the M5- just slightly. During the first 3,000 miles I noticed that the Z8 sticks very well on smooth roads, but it would get unsettled on bumpy off ramps. It didn’t become totally unglued, but it skipped/hoped over them. I also noted that, as the speed increases, the Z8 gets more stable in these situations. I guess the run flat tires need more miles to break in or (as the Z8 Product Manager suggests to me) the suspension had to break in? Either way, the car now really sticks to the road.
In terms of steering, the Z8 is and feels more precise; likely due to the rack & pinion setup vs. the recirculating ball on the M5. The Z8’s steering gives more communication than that of the M5, but both are very good. The Z8’s steering weighting is heavier than that of the M5 in normal mode, and its even a little heavier/stiffer than the M5 in sport mode. It’s definitely more linear. To me the M5’s steering has a somewhat isolated feeling as compared to the Z8 or E36 M3.
I prefer the Z8’s steering feel but you also feel the tires grabbing the road, whereas with the M5 this sensation is mostly absent (this is sometimes referred to as “tramlining”). The Z8 has much less body roll and almost no dive or squat.
The M5 is very nimble for a car of its size. Yet, taking a turn quickly in the M5 you can sometimes sense the mass of the car; while the Z8 has a more nimble feel. As expected, the M5 rides much better over rough pavement and road conditions.
The shifter in the Z8 is essentially that of the M5, but the throws feel shorter (I don’t know if they are or if it just feels shorter) and the shifter is much smoother. It has a great feel. By comparison the M5’s shifter feels longer, a little wobbly and a little notchy.
Then there is the exhaust note. The Z8’s is much better. Of course, it’s fairly easy to modify the M5’s exhaust.
So that’s handling- my conclusion, the M5 might be capable of higher handling numbers, and is definitely a much better daily driver, but for I’ll take the Z8 on feel.
On to driving experience:
You’d expect a sedan and roadster to be different- and they are. The M5 is a truly refined sedan capable of mind-boggling performance; it is the classic “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The Z8 is a stunningly beautiful roadster also capable of really mind-boggling performance; you can look at it like a modern, very refined Cobra. It feels as if it out accelerates the M5 by a considerable amount- even though we all know this is not true. It’s just that you’re closer to the action. On the whole, the Z8 is a much more involving experience.
The M5’s personality is "high-tech"- it is literally the ultimate daily driver. While the Z8’s personality is that it gives you the romantic sensation of driving that the “classic” cars from the 50s and 60s. In the M5 you have a similar view as most modern cars- an easy to see over hood and the sense is there isn’t that much hood in front of you. While in the Z8 you sit nearly at the beginning of the rear wheels! The first time you sit in one or drive one you will feel a bit shocked because there is this long hood in front of you. This is very easy to get used to and its not like the old design in that the hood gets in your way. But the first time around, for someone used to modern cars only, it is a bit different.
When I think of the best car in the world, the M5 comes to mind. When I think of automotive jewelry, I think of the Z8.
Both cars feel like bank vaults as far as chassis rigidity. As we know the M5 feels very sturdy, especially considering the taught suspension and weight it carries. Believe it or not, the Z8 feels just as sturdy. It’s easily the stiffest open top car I’ve ever driven- there is NO cowl shake.
Both have some “personality quirks”. The M5 has some bizarre squeaking from the rear deck when it goes over rough pavement and bumps. The moon roof cover rattles over rough pavement (strangely- this has stopped!) and some of the wood trim will rattle a little over rough pavement. In the Z8, all the switch gear is aluminum and if the steering wheel is in the all the way in position (it’s a telescoping steering wheel) when you go over bumpy pavement, it sometimes clangs together- its not often but it was disconcerting enough for me to inquire about it. A partial remedy is to extend the steering wheel about 1” or more. Also the steering is so precise that when you make a slow turn over rough pavement you can sense the tires hunting over the pavement and it feels as if the steering column is loose- I had this checked too, its not loose, its just how it is. A friend with a Ferrari tells me he has the same sensation. The only rattle is the passenger seat, when unoccupied, will sometimes jiggle over rough pavement- the fix, move it all the way to the back so it rests on the back of the interior.
As to the location of the gauges in the middle: this is something that’s very easy to get used to and IMHO is not a problem for the car. The reason is that the Z8 isn’t about gauges or data. It’s a purely subjective vehicle- all about feel. I think if they were doing this on a car with the volume of the M5, it would be a problem, but they are doing this on a very small volume car. Sure, it’s a little bizarre the first time you look out and there’s no gauge cluster in your view, but its easy to get used to and once you train your “muscle memory” for your eyes to look more over than down its no big deal.
The Z8 is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The Z8 doesn’t really compare to Ferrari, although the comparison is inevitable. I’ve driven a Ferrari F40 (ok- it was a very short drive- but I did get to drive it!). Several months ago I drove a 360 Modena. I liked it very much! And to be fair, I won’t push cars I don’t know well to their limits- so my “reviews” are more average-driver than race-driver. I think if you want pure performance a Ferrari would have the edge.
But for my tastes, Ferraris are too flashy and I think their styling runs the risk of being dated- while the Z8 is already dated, lol. Again, were talking personal preferences and personal observations. But when I see a 308 or 328 or Testarossa just don’t find their styling any where as appealing as when I saw them years ago. That’s said with the benefit of hind-sight, so I’m expecting to not be saying that about the Z8, but I won’t know for several years. Again this is a personal preference thing so I’m not knocking Ferrari because of some empirical problem like bad engineering- they are engineered wonderfully. I really like the 360 Modena.
We are very fortunate to be able to have cars like these and having choices is a good thing. But when I considered the whole package I made my choice for the Z8.
As to the experience of driving each on a regular basis:
I drove the Z8 almost every day for the first 6 weeks I took delivery of it.
Comparing to the M5 here are pros and cons:
Rougher ride- the ride is fine for most trips but as a daily commuter it can be a little tiresome- not bad though, just compared to the "dampened" ride of the M5 it can get a little tiring. To compare the ride is more like the E36 M3- but a tad stiffer. That said, the Z8’s ride doesn’t beat you up either.
Comparatively jumpy handling over road irregularities. The M5 also skips over these bumps, but much less, its almost impossible to sense.
People freaking out and acting stupid- I have no problem with genuine car enthusiasts but there are those folks who stop you at the gas station with only one question to ask- which I think is a little rude to ask of a stranger. I loved the way the car drove so much I picked it up- but the attention it generates is my biggest gripe (and its not *that* bad). I usually talk to people who seem truly interested in the car b/c its pretty or they know what it is. And there are times where people honk on the road or nearly lose control of their vehicles so you have to keep an eye out. I kid you not when I tell you that one day I heard the screech of tires and I looked around and it was a guy in a brand new M5 going the other way on a 2 way road- he hit his brakes to stop- he could have caused an accident!
The ragtop wasn’t designed the way car companies design ragtops for modern convertibles. Its not quite as insulated and it doesn’t have a glass rear window nor does it have an automatic boot cover. The reason why is that to design the low window lines of the car (compare to the new 3 series cabrio or the new MBs) BMW had to make the top as thin and small as possible. This meant a plastic window (easier to fold) and a manual boot cover. Before I knew the reason I thought this was absurd. I thought that in a car with CD, GPS, VANOS, etc you have to take this leather covered cover and clip it over the lowered top. In fairness, with the top up the insulation is good and you can drive year round and not get too hot or cold. BMW decided that for winter driving you would use the hardtop that comes with the car, there are no options except color, and for summer driving you would drive open air. The ragtop is really there for the summer day when a rainstorm surprises you.
The lighter is far back on the center tube way- kind of to the driver side behind the emergency brake; so running a wire for a radar detector is distracting.
The “sport button”- this is also in the M5. There shouldn’t be a sport button! If anything they should have it reversed and have a button for a gentler driving mode.
The cup holder is this bolt on after thought that encroaches into passenger’s legs.
Ok, so those are the cons- now for the pros:
First and foremost
!!!THAT FEELING!!! -- you know, that feeling that produces an ear-to-ear smile - if you like to drive, this is one of THE cars.
The sound of the engine from 4,000 rpm on is intoxicating.
The sensation that you are a part of a singular mass- or that it’s an extension of you.
The lines of the hood as miles pass by
The way the car feels much smaller on twisty roads- it literally will shrink 2 sizes when driven more aggressively- as does the M5
No built in cup holder- this is sports car not glorified beverage transportation!
The red interior is fabulous!
The shifter is very smooth.
The sensation of even more massive acceleration than the M5. The engine (as you other M5ers know) but here its pushing a smaller and lighter mass. The standard throttle program is the same as the M5s sport mode. The Z8s sport mode is kind of like a super hyper drive. However, in the Z8 the sport button only affects the throttle, not the steering also as in the M5.
It rejuvenates you.
I could keep going but basically the Z8 is probably the best daily driver when compared to other sports cars. But the M5 is the ultimate daily driver, probably the most amazing sports sedan you can/will find. If you had to have only one car, it’s definitely the M5.
I think the best way to describe the cars is to borrow BMWs phrases from different markets. Their USA phrase: “The Ultimate Driving Machine” really does apply to the M5, while their phrase from somewhere else (I don’t know): “Sheer Driving Pleasure” really describes the Z8.
I copy/pasted from a few posts of mine into this single consolidated post below, and added a few new comments... but the bottom line, to answer your question, is that the Z8 feels faster due to its lighter weight, having no top (assuming it's down), and a clearly superior exhaust note that adds to the sensation of speed. You can sense the torque more in the Z8, too. If the M5 feels to you like 400 bhp, then the Z8 feels like 450, like an M5 with a bit of extra kick.
[This part was written before I took delivery of the Z8]
I'm trading in my Royal Red / Caramel '01 M5. (It's already spoken for.) It is definitely one of the best, if not the best, 4-door cars out there, but it's just not the right car for me. I've usually driven very sporty, high-performance 2-doors and the M5 was a bit of a change for me. With all the media accolades and owner enthusiasm surrounding the M5, I decided to give the M5 a go. But I have learned that I simply prefer being behind the wheel of lighter-weight, 2-door sports cars.
- Great for cruising on the highway. Throw her into 5th or 6th and she gobbles up miles.
- Plentiful torque throughout the rev range.
- Comfortable for daily driving.
- Nice mild visual differentiators from other 5-series (e.g., sharp 18s, quad exhaust, sleek side-view mirrors).
- Bang for the buck (just about everything is standard equipment).
- Too much weight, preventing the car from being truly sporty.
- Too quiet throughout the rev range.
- Overboosted steering, even in sport mode.
- Shift-throws a bit too long. The 2-3 is notorious.
- M-Audio disappointing.
- Nav system a pain to use and not always giving the best routes.
- DSC a bit eager to kick-in and then over-manage.
[This next part was written after taking delivery of the Z8]
The Z8 trunk space is limited when the top is down b/c that is where the tonneau cover for the top is stored, as is the wind deflector. With the top down, the trunk is good for a weekend getaway, maybe two medium sized suitcases. But if you have to put the top up (and thus store the tonneau cover and deflector), you might have a space problem.
The Z8 feels a bit heavy, but much more agile and light than the M5 (I'd say the M5 needs to lose 500 pounds and the Z8 could lose maybe 200). The Z8 sounds much better, too, and not just due to the top being down. It's like a refined muscle car. The Z8 feels like the 996TT a bit, which is to say a good handler but still needing to make a visit to Weight Watchers.
The car will get a lot of attention. I park it almost anywhere, using common sense, except not in parallel parking spots (and park it overnight in a garage). If any "bumper feeler" parkers touch the rear end or especially the nose, you're very likely looking at repair work, or at the very least some scratches.
With the top up, rear-left corner visibility is poor. The car is not nearly as much fun with the top up.
You get used to the offset gauges (tach, speedo, etc.) within 5 minutes, no kidding. As a matter of fact, it took me a few days to realize that the dials' placement hadn't even really occurred to me up to that point. Only an issue when you are keeping the revs near redline but need to keep your eyes on the road straight ahead... it's not as natural a quick-look to go to the side as to look down a bit as with a more contemporary set of gauges.
The dashboard area began to groan over road imperfections a bit after 500 miles, sounding almost like it was coming unglued (versus sounding like a rattle).
The Nav system does not have maps on the screen, just an arrow pointing direction and some very limited text, though it does have the voice to guide your way. The nav screen is much smaller than the M5s and is mono-color (orangey-red).
You cannot have a mobile phone conversation with the top down at speeds over 40 or so mph, whether using a headset, the voice-activated system, or keeping the phone in your hand. You simply canot hear the person on the other end and they cannot hear you. The car is very loud at speed due to wind turbulence, and the wind deflector doesn't do really anything, as far as I can tell. Keep it in the trunk, unless you like how it looks. Functionally, it's of little to no value.
I like the car so much better than the M5, but the car serves a very different purpose. And as a daily driver, the Z8 is very easy to deal with once you master the 30-second top-up / top-down process. It can, though, get tedious dealing with the top if you have to put it up and down all the time.
The Z8 is a really good car for someone single without much space / passenger needs who wants a fun top-down, good weather car with solid performance.
Im glad youre enjoying the Z8. Its a great car. I actually think the storage space is more than I thought it would be- youre right about with the top up though- if you take the tonneau cover and deflector you wont have much space b/c the tonneau cover is bulky.
What I do as far as the tonneau cover is I put it on if I know Im going a long distance. But if Im going on a quick trip at low speeds (below 55mph) I just put the top down and go "naked"
The only other thing I would comment on is the wind deflector.
I had the car for several months w/o the deflector and I think it makes a huge difference. It makes crusing at 80+mph a lot more comfortable. Before around 80mph- even with the windows up- you are being battered by the air. now you still get pleanty of wind but its reduced to being acceptable. My wife is a very big fan of the deflector
I do agree with the above comments. The roadster is much more fun to drive and seems more powerfull because of its lighter weight compared to the M5 (however, it's so long that I haven't driven my beast that I cannot remember exactly ).
The only real drawback I see : the discretion is not synonymous with the Z8 and you cannot drive in a stealth mode like in the sedan. Parking is also a big problem because the body is very vulnerable (no bumpers) but overall the Z8 is a wonderfull toy for daily driving in California...
The gearing in the Z8 feels much tighter....I have trouble finding out why......it's strange....the Z8 revs through the rpms much faster than the M5.....At first I thought that the rear end ratio in the Z8 was higher than the M5s.....But brief research has voided that thought......
can anyone out there explain why my Z8 makes much more power at the crank than every M5 I have seen dynoed and why the gears feels so different......
The best my Z8 has done was 364rwhp...and the best I have seen from an M5 (other Than Apples) was 354rwhp.......
the fact of the matter is no 2 S62 engines are 100% the same- they are the only part of the M5 that is "hand-made". As such each is individually optimized at the factory. this is partially why the tuners have such a hard time tuning the engine- often times they try their usual tricks only to undo the tuning done by BMW M.
as you put miles on the Z8, you will find the suspension breaks in even more, the run cra, I mean, run flats break in too, and the engine really breaks in. Its my experience with BMW M engines that they get better and better and better and better.