BLAIR MCCONACHIE

Evo - - MARKET -

‘ 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

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