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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you're into cars, it'll all make your goose bumps rise and your skin shiver just as surely as will the grumble of a leopard in the bush just beyond the orange illumination of your campfire. It's doing it to me now as I type, dammit, and its three days since I drove the bloody car.


Gotta love it!!
 

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Nice one - I'd love to read the whole article :M5thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ashok Arora said:
Nice one - I'd love to read the whole article :M5thumbs:
Here you go..

Driving the M5 - the Devil made me do it


[ See related stories ]

June 5, 2005

By Les Stephenson

If there's one thing I've learned in my 30 years in Africa it's to have serious respect for anything that snarls – if it snarls it will surely bite so is best avoided unless you know what you're doing. BMW's new M5, with nearly 400kW and more than 500Nm on tap, is one such.

I met it – and my automotive match, as it turned out – in Bloemfontein (rather a far cry from the exotic launch venues about which fellow motoring scribe David Bullard so frequently waffles) at that fair city's airport and approached cautiously, from the rear, across a half-empty car park not long after dawn.

The four exhausts gave an early warning, even though its engine was not yet ignited; even one pipe of such splendid diameter hints of danger for the unwary, the insufficiently skilled
Closer inspection revealed a set of 19" alloy rims shod with rubber produced specifically for the car
.

Closer inspection revealed a set of 19" alloy rims shod with rubber produced (it later transpired) specifically for the car: 255/40 ZR up front and truly huge 285/35 ZR items at the rear – tyres so low-profile they looked like they'd been painted on the metal.

Even parked and silent, it looked lethal. And stunning – if the infamous Mr Bangle, he responsible for the modest disaster that is the current BMW 7 Series, had a hand in its design then I hereby offer him full pardon for that sin against automotive good taste.

Grinning bravely, I palmed the keys from the BMW rep, dropped into the black leather of the driving seat and fired up the 10 cylinders that lurked in the belly of the beast
The engine in the previous M5 had eight cylinders but the same five-litre displacement as the V10
.

It snarled.

As well it might because that all-aluminium engine, with cast-iron inserts to bolster its rigidity, has been bred directly from a long line of Formula 1 thoroughbreds. Indeed, the M5's light-alloy engine blocks are cast in the same foundry in Landshut, Germany, as those installed in the Williams BMW F1 cars that flash across your TV screen every other Sunday.

The engine in the previous M5 had eight cylinders but the same five-litre displacement as the V10. Performance has been increased by 25 percent to 507bhp (373kW) at 7750rpm (maximum from the V8 was 400bhp/294kW at 6600 rpm). That means the V10 exceeds the once-thought-impossible 100bhp/litre, its specific output on par with that of track cars.

"The M-people in Germany," BMW SA's marketing boss Richard Carter told me, "have intense pride in producing pure cars – cars that do not rely for their power on turbochargers or superchargers and are of restrained design.

"The M5's engine and gearbox are truly at the outer edges of technology – our M-people are dismissive of 'artificial' power. They've taken technology from Formula 1 and repackaged it for the road.

"The M5's essence is that it is as driveable as an ordinary four-door sedan, even docile when its softer suspension settings and gentler gear-changes are selected by the driver. Select harder settings and it will change from 'everyday' to the best all-round four-door sedan in the world."

But back to the snarl… the M-people have tuned the exhausts – two completely stainless-steel assemblies running from each bank of five cylinders through four catalysts that make the emissions far cleaner than a politician's exhalations – so that from that initial aural assault the sound rises as you accelerate to as near the staccato howl of an F1 car as makes no difference.

Handy point-of-arrival

If you're into cars, it'll all make your goose bumps rise and your skin shiver just as surely as will the grumble of a leopard in the bush just beyond the orange illumination of your campfire. It's doing it to me now as I type, dammit, and its three days since I drove the bloody car.

And as far as this story goes, I haven't even left the car park yet. So I'll get on with it and explain why I should have listened more closely to the M5's early-morning snarl…

Bloemie's airport was merely a handy point-of-arrival; ahead was a hundred and some kays of long, straight roads making up a roundabout route to Welkom and its international-standard Phakisa racetrack. The tired Free State roads soon showed up the harshness of the M5's suspension (my fault, I hadn't yet learned to adjust the damping to suit the undulated tarmac) but the long, deserted straights also allowed the car to show its pace.

Devastating? Awesome? Eyeball-flattening? Visceral? Shattering? Overwhelming? All of the foregoing? The M5 is pretty much on par with its competitors' power output, though they can't match its 8000 rev limit; what really counts is the (all of the above) torque that makes the utmost of the (world's first) seven-speed (auto / manual-sequential – no shift-stick yet available) gearbox.

Downchange blips

The gearbox has a choice of 11 change patterns, most of them selectable by the driver, who can also chose either of two power outputs – one for bumbling around town, the other for what is euphemistically called "enthusiastic driving". The system even blips the throttle on downchanges, just like a race car.

A convoy of three 22-wheelers went backwards in about the time it takes to say "a convoy of 22-wheelers went backwards". In detail, the new M5 launches to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds (yes, it has launch control) and, BMW says, will reach double that speed in less than another 10 seconds. Top end is electronically limited to 250km/h (though 270 shows at that speed) but the automaker won't void the car's warranty if you want to extract its real potential and see 330 on the speedo by having an expert undo the factory's work.

All of which, officer, was hypothetical in terms of the ride to Welkom and on to Phakisa where an empty track with a dozen difficult corners, a pair of paramedics, a team of suitably sceptical marshals and a trio of "hey, you can't scare us" BMW bods awaited me, three colleagues - and our two BMW M5's.

It was almost time to be bitten… though the M5 has every luxury you'll find on any seriously top-end, very expensive (did I tell you the car costs R850 000 against R861 000 for Merc's also very awesome and supercharged E55 AMG and R785 000 for Audi's also also very awesome A8?) high-performance sedan and can be delivered leather-lined from carpet to roof it is also a mean beast that can catch you out.

A tad too much

A head-up display comes with the package, its multicolour display seeming to float in space about a metre ahead of the windscreen to report speed, gear and revs – though I understand it can be driver-programmed to show more.

The laws of physics as applied to an automobile cannot be totally ignored, traction control or no, and so it proved with the M5, an empty track and a tad too much "enthusiastic driving".

With full power dialled in and suspension set on "hard" me, 373kW underfoot and the best part of a million bucks worth of car launched beautifully from the pits lane to tame Phakisa, its blind corners and its two parallel straights.

But a racetrack is the M5's home turf; a wide and winding strip of unoccupied tarmac its hunting ground and the guy in the driving seat is really just there as company to the Devil sitting next to him and whispering sweet nothings. Like "No, faster…", "You can brake later than that…" and "Just one more lap…"

Which was when I got bit, hard, on the backside. Coming through the right-hander into the far straight, third gear, foot flat and probably at around 120km/h, with everybody watching from the pits, the rear suddenly let go, the nose changed course towards the wall.

And all those sessions at high-performance driving courses over the years kicked in – counter-steer, let the car do the work, a slight twitch to the right and then me, the car and the Devil were back in balance, back on course.

Just one more lap…
 

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Nice story, something different from the usual European reviews
 

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"– two completely stainless-steel assemblies running from each bank of five cylinders through four catalysts that make the emissions far cleaner than a politician's exhalations –"


 
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