By James Wong

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The E60 M5 is one of the all-time greats of the BMW M Division – it is also, by empirical feel at least, one of the most polarising. Never was a set of contradictions placed all in one five-door saloon so controversial. A high-revving V10 engine capable in excess of 500bhp, a shuddering SMG gearbox, a luxury interior and four doors of a typical 5er. It just didn’t make much sense, especially when compared to the ultra-sensible super-saloon F10 M5, which ironically righted all the wrongs of its predecessor but in the process also removing some of the zenith qualities which made it so special.

However, we are not going to talk about the E60 vs. F10 here this time. Instead, what I’ll be writing about is the comical way of how we car enthusiasts spot a E60 M5 from a fakie wannabe. It is probably the most copied car in the entire BMW range, for some reason targeted by posers who just love their 520i’s to look like the real V10 monster. In fact, I reckon 60-70% of the ‘M5s’ you see in Singapore are actually fake. So what’s the procedure we usually take when one comes your way? Here’s mine…

1) Don’t bother with bodykit, that’s pretty replicable. Try wing mirrors. FAIL/PASS

2) Side vents just after the front wheelarch. FAIL/PASS

3) Rims are easily replicable so you can skip those (think Taiwan made). Brakes – get this right and you’re on to spotting a true M5. The real stuff are huge and will usually fill whatever available space there is on the standard M5 rims – FAIL/PASS

4) Rear exhausts – easily replicable but usually the V10s are pretty distinct at full chat. On low throttle they sound even less boomy than the four pots or I6s. Spot on! FAIL/PASS

5) If you’ve reached the interior (wow you peered so deeply eh?), look at the steering wheel, gear knob, instrumentation and seats – seats in particular, they’re expensive stuff to replicate. FAIL/PASS

There, with this no-nonsense layman 5-step guide, you can be a borderline psychopath car spotter too. Right on.