You wouldn't touch up an Annie Leibovitz photo, so why would you mod a 2013 BMW M5? That question nagged at us as we drove to Oberlin, Ohio, to visit Switzer Performance. The company is best known for its wicked quick GT-Rs, which are still its bread and butter, but owner Tym Switzer wanted to build something with four-doors. His quarry? The new BMW M5. The fact that we were driving an absolutely brilliant, stock 2013 BMW M5 with a six-speed manual transmission made that nagging question resurface continually. Just a voice inside our head, asking, "You wouldn't cut a Harmony Korine film, so why would you mod a BMW M5?"
The empty garage.
Driving at ludicrous speeds on the Ohio Turnpike, only slowing down for a wayward family of ducks, we arrived at Switzer's shop earlier than expected. We parked the M5 and started toward the garage, a space that the company's been operating out of for about half of a year. It's a bit barren inside; there are several two-post lifts scattered about, with GT-Rs and Porsches on them, but there's no M5 in sight. We meet Tym, who tells us the Bimmer should be arriving soon. After killing time in the engine shop and taking a peek at future projects, it finally does.
Unchanged is a change.
First impression? The car looks stock, and we're relieved. We're also a bit disappointed. Tuners usually create packages that are aesthetic overloads, and Switzer hasn't even touched this M5's wheels, even though they tell us upgrades will be available soon. We open the driver's door and notice that, like the exterior, the interior is untouched. As are the suspension and the drivetrain. Actually, a huge majority of the sedan is the same. Switzer Performance adds only three things to the BMW M5 to create what it calls the P700 package: a cat-back exhaust system, a drop-in air filter, and a new ECU. The price you pay for this trifecta? $6995.
Piling onto the excess.
We get in and start the car up. The difference in sound is noticeable, but you need more than noise if you're going to shell out seven grand after spending almost six figures on a car. And since that air filter isn't going to do a whole lot, we're looking at the ECU to do something. Sure enough, Tym and his team use it to tune the M5's V-8 engine and its two turbochargers up from 560 horsepower to 700. Hence the "P700" package. There's that voice again: "You wouldn't remix a Warren Zevon song, so why would you mod a BMW M5?"
Out of Oberlin, into real Ohio.
This car already has a hard enough time putting its power down. With an extra 140 horses being thrown at the rear wheels, we fully expect the stability control light to shine whenever the P700 M5 isn't idling. Only one way to find out. We toss Tym the keys to our BMW M5, take the keys to his, and head out to find some empty county roads. The buildings around Oberlin College slowly morph into cornfields, and we're in the middle of nowhere in no time.
Cat-and-mouse almost turns into tag.
Tym, right in front of us in our stock M5, floors it. We follow suit. There's a velvety growl from the cat-back exhaust, which is definitely absent in the stock car. We're thinking that the snarl from the cat-back makes more of a difference than the extra power does. Then we notice that we're pulling on Tym. Quickly enough, actually, that we have to lift for a second lest we slam into the back of our own press car. We put a bit of space between the Bimmers, but then we're back on the accelerator, back on the tail of the M5 in front of us. The stability control icon lights up once, but goes as quickly as it came.
At his word.
We pull off the road after a few more minutes of driving, and Tym can't get out of the driver's seat before we ask, "Were you sandbagging?" He quickly responds, "No way. I was giving it all it had." While he could only benefit from lying, we don't think he is. The nose of the stock M5 dipped only between shifts. Besides, if we called him for lifting off, he'd probably crush us with his Stallone-like arms. So having faith that he's telling the truth, we're impressed. The more powerful car didn't feel any less refined, any less manageable, or any less desirable than the stock M5 that carried us down here. Actually, we didn't feel a difference at all -- just heard and observed one.
An almost indistinguishable difference.
Switzer's P700 package is subtle. It's not ludicrously expensive, and it enhances the 2013 BMW M5 in ways that are neither outlandish nor overwrought. Tym and his team have created a three-piece package for the rare people who aren't satisfied by very near perfection. We wouldn't wrench on a BMW M5 and suggest you don't either. The M5 basically created the insanely overpowered sport sedan segment, and it's stayed in top of the pack since. It's perfectly fine as is. That said we aren't as disgusted the idea of a modified M5 now that we've driven this Switzer. Tym has a deep appreciation for the stock sedan, and it shows. And he'd agree that no one should ever touch up an Annie Leibovitz photo.