I would doubt run flats on an M vehicle- they just arent that grippy.
Remember the E39 & E46 M cars dont have a spare tire- just the M Mobility kit and a phone number to call
I assume the M5 will have both Active Front Steering (AFS) and Active Roll Stabilization (ARS). There is unanimous praise for ARS. AFS has opinion more split. I think it will add a sense of excitement for those doing lower speed maneuvers, like auto crossing. There was a good article on AFS and early problems in last month's Roundel magazine. I don't remember the reason, but there was a problem affecting mainly European delivered vehicles and the fix seemed like a pretty major one- maybe replacing the entire steering system? The good news for anyone who hasnt yet bought one is they say they had fixed the problem. The bad news is there are cars running around with the problem.
A potential reason someone would prefer the automatic over the manual is that all series BMWs have the dreaded Clutch Delay Valve (CDV). His description of the manual supports his sensing the CDV (He calls it "rubbery and notchy"). This makes shifting smoothly a tedious job. When you make something thats supposed to be fun not fun any more then it makes sense to look for alternatives. Also, and please let the purists pardon me here, automatics have gotten very good. As fun as manuals? no- but they are very good. If you have any traffic in your drive, an automatic is not necessarily a bad choice.
As someone who has criticized both "Bangle-design" and iDrive, I have to say I disagree with much of the subjective points the author raises.
Once you get the hang of idrive you wont be looking at it very much and many of those settings are there as "set and forget". Additionally, while I cant argue about having cold air on your face- I like that- most people had no idea what that little color wheel was for- anyone who ever drove one of our cars always asked and then they would have to take their eyes off the road to adjust it. Once they knew what it did and where it was, then they could do it more or less by feel. Same will be true of idrive since you control temp and fan speed by real knobs- which are actually easier to see than the buttons from before.
I think BMW should have known that introducing such radical styling departures (its radical for those of us who are long time fans) and a pretty radical control system could cause a "double whammy". In hindsight- which we "Monday Morning Quaterbacks" get to have- I think BMW should have split the styling and control system introductions. Maybe introduce the new styling, but keep an older style control system until the next styling generation. By then we would have grown accustomed to the new look- and more importantly, they could have tested all the bugs out of the idrive system and even settled on 1 system for all their vehicles. As it is now you have 1 in the 7 and 1 for the rest of the line up. This can't be good for consumers nor for the dealers who have to explain it. But the flip side of this is their competitors could then put these type systems in their vehicles first. I favor the more conservative approach to technology- the companies I admire most are those that may take their time to get things out, but when it comes out the level of bugginess is very minimal (youll never get it 100% before it hits the streets).
The styling is subjective of course; but I dont think its an attempt to graft aggressive looks on to a conservative shape. I think the 5 is a little strange looking, but its kind of sharp. It grows on you. The more I see on the road, the more I like it, I particularly like how it looks when its either coming at you or going away from you. I think a hallmark of the "Bangle" designs is they look better in motion than they do at rest. That said, Id really like to see these designs evolved and not be quite so funky. But thats just me.