BMW M5: At home on the school run and on track
There's no point in pretending the BMW M5 is anything other than a benchmark car. The M Division creates cars that are a perfect balance between the mentalism that falls out of AMG, and the point-and-shoot weapons from Audi's RS team. The M3 may be the poster car, but the M5 is the one that people really lust after.
The 5 Series, classically, is the next step up the ladder. It's theyou go for when you've reached the top of the chain and need something to show off just how well you've done. Now, take that prestige and throw in a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8. Sounds good, doesn't it?
The current generation M5 is a big, big car. Happily large enough to have been considered a 7 Series a decade or so ago, it doesn't actually fit in a standard British parking space. Not in a Rolls-Royce, falling-over-into-the-abyss way, but still. That does mean there's plenty of room inside for everyone.
It's a nice cabin, too. There aren't any harsh edges, no cheap plastics and nothing that'll sit out of place in something like an M5.
To look at...I'm a bit meh about the M5. The 5 Series' design isn't revolutionary, nor is it evolutionary. It's a safe choice born during an economic recession -- anything too brash on its face may have lost buyers when BMW needed them most.
Having an 'M' badge on its arse means BMW had to spruce up the 5. There's a set of vents on its wings, the standard quad-exhaust at the rear, and a massive set of air dams up front. It's not a shouty looking thing at all. It's subtle, like an assassin.
I say like an assassin because it can silently creep up on just about anything and then, with the flick of a heel, emasculate the other guy. In tight, twisty roads its appeal is somewhat lost on me -- you feel its weight and size, and trying to nail the throttle will catapult you to the nearest apex before you can really enjoy the sensation of speed.
The rate at which the M5 gathers speed is utterly phenomenal. There's only a number of ways to say: "Holy cow, this thing is quick," before you're knocking on the door of license-losing speeds. There's something otherworldly about the connection of something quite so vast going quite that fast. However, its place is on the motorways of the world, where it'll sit and cruise, comfortably at, erm, speeds for as long as the fuel tank is full.
All in all, the new M5 is a very special bit of kit. Especially if you enjoy anonymity and live near an empty motorway.