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The world’s most practical sports car

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January 29, 2007

The world’s most practical sports car

The world’s most practical sports car

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January 30, 2007 BMW doesn’t like the term station wagon, which originated in the age of train travel when all-purpose vehicles with specialised bodies worked around train stations to carry people and luggage to local destinations. The term “hack” was also used to describe these utilitarian vehicles, so we kinda understand why BMW doesn’t want anyone calling its M5 Touring, the world’s fastest station wagon or something equally gauche, as its sporting and technological credentials set it far apart from the ordinary. It’s 5.0-litre V-10 engine has won back-to-back International Engine of the Year awards, and runs through a seven-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox to offer 507 bhp and 520 Nm of torque. The main difference between this vehicle and the legendary M5 is the 1,650 liters of boot space. This is a vehicle for owners needing to move sizable loads … very quickly. Without the 155mph electronic limiter the new M5 Touring would be capable of achieving 200mph while still transporting the largest of loads. All other facets of the vehicle put it in the luxury class, so perhaps a better term for the M5 Touring might be a “shooting break.” With the previous M5 Touring (E34) only available in left-hand drive, the arrival of the new M5 Touring marks the first time the high-performance estate has been offered to right-hand-drive customers.

This balance of ultimate practicality and performance is summed up by Lee Connolly, BMW UK’s Product Manager for the new M5 Touring “The M5 Touring will be the perfect car for delivering supercar owners’ luggage to their holiday homes in France or Spain. Usefully, their luggage will arrive before they do!”

These levels of performance are in part made possible by the world’s first seven-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox with Drivelogic in a production car. The gearbox features eleven different change patterns to offer the driver a personally-tuned driving experience - six settings vary speed and response of gear change in a manual mode and there are five automatic modes. A Launch Control function delivers the fastest possible acceleration from standstill.

Like the Saloon, the new M5 Touring features a three-stage DSC+ traction control system. The default mode offers drivers high levels of performance and stability. M Dynamic Mode allows an enthusiastic driver the ability to push the M5 Touring to, and beyond, the absolute limits of traction, permitting some sideslip and countersteering before the system cuts in and is selected in the M Drive Manager (see below). If the DSC button is pressed, DSC+ is completely disengaged.

BMW M’s variable M differential also offers the highest levels of driving stability and traction, especially when accelerating out of high-speed corners, with up to 100 per cent of drive being transferred to the rear wheel with most traction. Finally, the Electronic Damper Control (EDC) system offers three suspension settings to complement the prevailing driving conditions.

MDrive Manager packages these programmable settings, so that the touch of a single button sets the car up as required. Like a boy visiting his favourite sweet shop, the M5 driver can select his preferred settings for power, gearbox, EDC and DSC modes, Head-up Display and the degree of Active Seat bolster support, via the iDrive menu. One-touch of the M Drive button on the steering wheel then selects the desired combination and instantly changes the character of the car. One moment the M5 Touring is a placid and practical family car, the next it’s more akin to a track day special.

Visually, the new M5 Touring follows BMW M’s philosophy of high performance shrouded in the body of a standard car with discreet styling enhancements that highlight the potential under the skin. The larger front air dam, side sills, monikered side gills and a rear valance with BMW M’s quad tailpipes protruding all hint at the performance of the world’s most dynamic estate car.

Internally the new M5 Touring features the same enhancements as the ‘standard’ 5 Series (see below) as well as offering the Active Seat bolsters from the M5 Saloon. In addition, the Touring variant comes with BMW’s innovative iDrive control system with new short cuts - eight freely programmable buttons for instant porgramme selection. Finally, music aficionados can now specify the BMW Individual High End Audio system that uses 16 loud speakers to generate an ear-ringing 825 watts.

The new BMW M5 Touring starts production in March 2007 and will be priced at UKP67,075 on the road.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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