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BMW M5 — long-term review
Back in Report 3, I got the M5 together with Alpina’s B5. Same money, same power, slightly different philosophy. I decided that although the Alpina was the smoother-riding devourer of autobahns, I’d rather have the M5’s more sporting feel. This month I’m putting the M5 through the wringer again – this time a battle royale against the old foe, Mercedes-AMG’s E63S. And the result this time is that…
Hang about. We’ve done this twin test before and given the nod to the M5 because it handles a bit better. And it does. But that’s the advantage of long-term reports – they give you time to develop a more personal relationship with a car, to see if you fit each other properly. Much harder concept to get across than ‘handles a bit better’, but also more important in the long run.
How do the M5 and E63S reflect on each other then? Here’s what the Merc does better: noise, drama, stance, attitude, estateyness. And the BMW: torque, comfort, pliancy, stealth. Expressed another way, the Merc is more of an extrovert (theatrical cabin, too), the BMW purely focused on the driving – it rides less crashily at low speed, has a smoother 4WD system, better drivetrain and so on.
As an object the Merc is more appealing – those arches, the dual roles that a 600bhp estate fulfils. It makes me want it more. But the BMW is comfier to use and drive every day. Each morning I get into it and sigh contentedly. I noticed the E63 too much – the harder seats, lumpy ride, unsettled drivetrain. The M5’s more efficient, too (26mpg on a long haul plays 22).
But I often want it to jab at me a bit more, to remind me it’s special. In fact, I often get out of it thinking I preferred the M3 I ran a few years back. That jabbed at me. And it’s the same with the E63S. There’s a hint of loose cannon about it I love. And there’s something about a fast estate, isn’t there? It’s a very personal decision, but I think I’d have the E63S and hope it would goad me into a good mood each morning. I know it’d make me more excited just walking out of the house, seeing it and knowing the noise it makes.