BMW M5, VW Arteon, Vauxhall Insignia…
GOD I LOVE this BMW M5, and it’s ALL MINE FOR SIX MONTHS. I’m still in shock. I think my fellow writers at CAR are a bit stunned too – how did I pull it off? Not sure exactly – the keys were just there, so I took them and ran.
It’s the most expensive long-term test car I’ve ever run for CAR. The basic onthe-road price for the new M5 is £89,705, and for that you get all-wheel drive (a first for the M5) and a drivetrain that ditches BMW’s razor-sharp twin-clutch DTC in favour of a regular eight-speed auto ’box. All standard, no choice.
Of course, there are other options if you want to spend more dollar: our car is finished in Rhodonite Silver paint (£1095); it has a sports exhaust (£1100); a couple of equipment packs, Premium and Comfort (£1995 and £1195 respectively), that add things like softclose doors and a heated steering wheel; plus a few details like Apple CarPlay (£235) and stripy M seatbelts (£260). The price is now approaching £95k, but tick the box that says M Carbon Ceramic Brakes – go on, tick it, I know you want to – and you add a hefty £7495 to the bill, bringing our car’s total to £102,82o.
So, I’m in love with an automatic 4x4? Better explain. First, it’s the monster engine, a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that puts out 592bhp, up almost 40bhp on the last generation M5. It is a gigantic, NASA-style Saturn rocket of an engine that flings this nearly two-tonne saloon around as if it were made of paper. The stats say 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed (derestricted) of 190mph. But those numbers can’t convey the in-gear acceleration – the shove it gives you in second gear, or the way it overtakes in third or fourth. When I take unwitting passengers out for a quick blast, they all do the same thing: yelp, grimace and instinctively reach for the grab handle. It is savagely quick.
I’m also in love with this switchable chassis. This is unusual for me – normally I hate wallowy Comfort modes and Sport settings that are so stiff they rattle your fillings out. Normally I just end up in Normal.
But in the new M5, the settings make this my perfect all-rounder. So it’s raining and the traffic is heavy and I’m on my way home? Just leave everything in Comfort, 4x4, auto, traction control on. True, the M5 is relatively bland like this – it feels quick but subdued, the steering lacks feel and there are no fireworks.
But then there are the two bright red M buttons on the steering wheel, that look like they should only be deployed by a fireman. Despite some criticism of hyper-complexity, the secret to this car is spending five minutes creating your perfect M1 and M2 settings. So if I’m in a hurry and I don’t want lurid oversteer, I choose M1, which I’ve set to be 4x4 but now with Sport steering, engine response and suspension, and half-wayhouse traction control allowing a little bit of slip.
And if I really want to let rip, slide my way home and roast the tyres, I choose M2, which I’ve set up as a nutter mode: everything in Sport Plus, pure rear-wheel drive, traction completely off. Now the M5 will oversteer round roundabouts like a drift car while I climb out and wave at the crowd from the bonnet. It’s three distinctive personalities in one car.
So, I’m ignoring the fuel consumption (13mpg if you abuse the M2 button) and I’m literally counting down the weeks, dreading the day it goes back. Until then, it’s all MINE MINE MINE!
Strained expression the result of Mark trying not to look too smug
‘No, really, with our M2 mode engaged it does this all on its own, o icer!’