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BMW M5 — long-term review
Three years back I ran a BMW M3. Without a shadow of doubt one of the most entertaining, memorable cars I’ve ever had. For its farewell, my son and I loaded up with bikes and headed off to the south west for a few days’ hiking and riding. Bigger car now. Bigger son, too. So the stakes have been raised. Bike Park Wales this time and hiking in the Brecon Beacons. If I run an M760Li, I’ll be off to the Alps.
Folding rear seats (part of the £1,195 Comfort pack along with steering-wheel heating, the massive display key and heated seats for four) mean you can get two bikes inside the M5. But think of the winter muck. Way better to carry bikes outside, suctioned on with a pair of Seasucker racks. First challenge: the M5 has a carbon roof. Besides being pointless, it’s also thin and creased, which made fitting the racks awkward. And also resulted in occasional dull pops as the carbon flexed and sprung back. The sucker racks are awesome – I’ve never once had a cup lose suction – but it’s still good for moderating speeds on the M4, although extra aero drag negated any economy gains.
That part went fine. In fact, every part that concerned the M5 went fine. Before it arrived back in April I was nervous, doubting its boot was big enough to cope with family life, but not once has it failed me. I load the boot and am surprised at how long I can keep loading it, how far I can push things to the back. Still, an estate would be easier. Build an M5 wagon, please BMW. Just for the look of the thing.
Some riders at Bike Park Wales did twig what it was, but most didn’t look twice. Good colour, this Marina Bay Blue, but the bodywork itself is too subtle. Several hours of exhausting biking later (13-yearolds are basically Tiggers, with confidence levels to match), the most important thing was the onward journey was taking place in the M5, not an ambulance, which had looked a distinct possibility for a heartbeat or 12. Sure, towels had to be thrown over the seats, which made getting clean later something of a challenge, but of such decisions are father-and-son trips made. Made us chuckle over a steak supper in a pub, anyway. And afterwards, there was a car outside that has never failed to shock with its mid-range punch and speed over the ground.
The next day we hiked up Pen y Fan (that’s it in the background) and ate like kings again. The day after that, we were back at Bike Park Wales. Son’s idea. What would I change about the M5? I’d make the ride more supple in Comfort, to match the soft seats and calm cruising drivetrain. I wish the sound was more invasive with the sports exhaust on, that the steering had a bit more bite, too. More overt at the sporty end, calmer at the other. But that’s it really. It got a nickname – Baloo. Blue. And a bit of a daft, happy bear. And that was meant to be that. M5 gone.