TEST DRIVE: BMW M5 – OMG!

I test drove an BMW M5 a long while back (I have a backlog of overdue updates for this blog…).

It started in a very dramatic way. Before handing over the wheel to me, the salesman did a loooong drift on the off-ramp of the motorway. He kept the car sideways for the entire 270 degree turn with the rear tires totally lit up… After these heroics, it was my turn to drive the car.

Engine

There is no other way to start this review, but to comment on the engine. With 560hp it is the most powerful car I have driven. The acceleration is brutal on the motorway and overtaking, on secondary roads, is a breeze. If you are really looking for it, you can feel a little turbo lag at low revs, but it is barely noticeable.

The sound of the engine is fabulous. It has a system that enhances the sound (Active Sound Design, ASD) which is rather controversial among car enthusiasts. But, to my ears, it sounds lovely and much better than the Bentley Continental GT V8 (see my review here, in Swedish).

How is it on the twisty stuff?

The weight, 1945 kg, is rather high, but some of the competing cars weigh more: 1995 kg for the outgoing Panamera GTS, or 2070 kg for the new Panamera Turbo. The Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG also weights more. The car masks it weight very well though, and it turns in sharply, which is a trait I have come to like a lot.

Interior

I really like the possibility to customise the different settings for the drivetrain, dampers, etc, separately, something I miss in my Macan. You can save two different sets of settings, which can be selected directly with their respective buttons (M1 and M2) on the steering wheel. It is very convenient to be able to change the character of the car with the press of a button on the steering wheel, instead of down on the centre console. Ferrari does this with the Manettino on the steering wheel; Aston Martin has buttons on the steering wheel as well. This is something I missed in the Porsches, which have not received a similar system until the recently released 991 mk2 (read my review here).

The head-up display is also very useful. In M-mode it shows speed, gear and a graphical representation of the rev counter and a shift light indicator.

Final words

As an everyday car the M5 is an enticing proposition. You could drive it daily as you would drive a 520d, the only drawback being tyre noise (you can read my review of the 520d here, in Swedish).

Would I like to own one? Yes for sure, but I am not sure it is an entirely practical proposition as a family car for us. We need to take the car to the mountains to go skiing, and a massively powerful, turbocharged, rear wheel drive car, might not be the best option. The next M5, which will be based on the new 5-series (that was introduced a couple of weeks ago) will have the option of 4WD, which adds a lot of practicality.

TEST DRIVE: Porsche Macan – sports car or SUV?

I was fortunate to drive the new Macan at a Porsche event close to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.

For the purpose of this review, I will mainly compare the Macan with my BMW X3 xDrive35d (MY 2012).

The most important bit first; the Macan feels more agile than my X3, or rather, more agile than any SUV I have driven. Don’t be fooled, the Macan is no sports car, it’s no 911 with four doors, but it is as sporty as a SUV gets.

Before driving the car I had a passanger ride in the back seat of a Macan S Diesel. It felt properly quick, not the least since the driver was driving the car like a complete lunatic… In spite of his efforts, the Macan Turbo in front of us pulled away from us on the straights. The diesel engine had a pretty OK soundtrack, considering it is basically a reworked Audi diesel…

After the scary back seat ride, I drove the Macan Turbo on some mountain roads. Boy is it fast! The engine produces 400 hp with a somewhat muted soundtrack, but it makes nice exhaust noises on upshifts…

The steering is light, which is something I like. On my X3 it feels more weighty, specially in Sport mode, but in a bad, artificial way.

Now to the practical stuff. The interior feels very “premium”; much more luxurious than my X3. The Macans on show had full leather interiors, which added to the premium feeling.

Interior space in the back seat is limited and luggage space is markedly smaller than in the X3. Headroom in the back seat is not plentiful; tall people will hit the roof.

Finally, the most important question: do I want one? The answer is yes, but I wouldn’t sell a kidney to buy it… Let me clarify: if I didn’t own a family car and needed a small, sporty SUV, I would definitely buy a Macan. But is it worth upgrading from my BMW X3 xDrive35d? That’s a tough question. The Macan looks a little better, it feels a little more expensive inside, it is much more agile, but quite less practical than the X3.

If I had a sports car along the X3, as I used to have, I would keep the X3 as a family car. But without a sports car on the side, the family car needs to be sportier. In that context, the Macan would be an excellent all-rounder; it would make everyday driving a little bit more exciting. On the other hand, I am really fond of the new Maserati Ghibli (test drive report coming soon…). Decisions, decisions, decisions…