‘ I’d gone to the dealership to look at a 335d – I needed a new tow- car for my Caterham – but having previously owned an E39 [’ 99-’ 03] M5, the 335d didn’t really do it for me. Then the salesman mentioned they had an F10 M5 that had just arrived with 20,000 miles on the clock. I wasn’t sure if the F10 was for me – I had steered away from turbos previously and always had manual gearboxes – but I went for a test drive and shook his hand an hour later.
‘ That was three years ago. The car has now done 42,000 miles and I can compare the two M5s as an ownership prospect, having used both for the daily commute, on European journeys and also on track. The F10 was even pressed into service at Knockhill for a round of the Super Lap Scotland time attack event [ superlapscotland. co. uk] when my Caterham wasn’t ready. I have to say, I was impressed with what a standard M5 could do on track, given its weight.
‘ Considering that weight and the performance, costs haven’t been unreasonable. I get 2526mpg on long journeys – I once saw 30mpg by showing ultimate restraint – while if I stretch the car I get low teens. I’ve just had two new front tyres fitted at £ 270 each; the rears are due for replacement soon but have lasted 10,000 miles. I’ve replaced the front discs and pads, and also the rear pads. The big service for me was £ 919, while a standard service plus differential oil change was £ 514. I kept the extended BMW warranty, which has proved its value by covering the replacement of an air- con condenser and some turbo coolant hoses.
‘ I had thought the E39 M5 was the consummate all- rounder, and I do miss the burble of the V8, but I wouldn’t go back to one now. The F10 really grows on you: the speed is evident from the start, but the chassis is malleable and it has a great front end. I now prefer it overall. It really is the do- it- all car.’ ‘ You know the way a really good auto ’ box instinctively knows when to hold a gear and when to drop a cog? That’s what this DCT does. The calibration is exemplary because at low speed it must juggle a torque curve that, from 1000 to 1500rpm, jumps several hundred lb ft. But somehow it manages everything with serene indifference. Compared with the V10 M5’ s auto mode, it’s a revelation.
‘As for the driveability, character and flexibility of the radical new motor, well, they’re all exceptional. I’m trying to think of another turbocharger installation that gives such stupendous torque from virtually no engine revolutions, but keeps pulling to over 7000rpm, all the time increasing in potency.
‘ Does it rev like the old V10? Of course it doesn’t. But just as the torque curve subsides, so the power takes over and the result must be one of the most remarkable powertrains of modern times.
‘ The car feels noticeably heavier than its predecessor, but the brakes are just fine. They make plenty of noise but the pedal stays firm and the stopping power is commensurate with something that weighs so much and yet builds speed so quickly.
‘ Like the best M- cars, it doesn’t feel like a fast 5- series, it feels like a stand- alone model. Something too heavy and not perfect, but still something very special indeed.’ – 163