|Review:||I have been weighing up what to replace the B10 with for over a year, perhaps even longer. It has been hard to imagine what will be able to better the experience.|
There is a saying – ‘Power corrupts’, more than anywhere else in cars this is true. So the Alpina’s replacement will have to exceed 280bhp. That should narrow down my options.
In a way I have always known what I wanted, but my head has tried to talk me out of it. I love the 5-Series and therefore what car could possibly beat the M5? Alpina, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar all think they know. The only trouble is that all of these rivals are automatic. I don’t like automatics so no competition ?
Well not quite the Alpina B10 V8 has a very good switchtronic system that isn’t that bad. Jaguar’s 6-speed automatic is also one of the best I have ever driven and the Audi and Merc are some of the fastest cars on the planet full-stop.
My main problem with any of these cars is ludicrous economy figures. The M5 has an optimistic 20mpg figure – 7mpg worse than my B10.The others aren’t much different. Can I justify this ? well after one drive its clear there are benefits. The M5 is a lot faster than the B10 – the levels of thrust are significantly higher everywhere. Where the B10 felt fast the M5 feels in a different league. Even compared to the similarly powered S-type R the M5 feels and is quicker.
So how do the rivals stack up?
Alpina B10 V8 /s
My main difficulty with the Alpina is cost this is a very expensive car and although I am not buying a new one even the second-hand ones are considerably more than the M5. For the age of car I want (less than 12 months old) the B10 is not in my price range.
Although I haven’t yet driven the Audi, I know from the lesser models how they drive compared to the 5-Series and know I won’t enjoy the experience (other than straight line speed) as much. In addition price wise this car is also just out of my range.
The newest E55 is out of my price range. The one before didn't offer the gut wrenching acceleration. The main issue with the E55 is the gearbox and less sporty drive.
Jaguar S-Type R
This car is the closest rival to the M5 and is in my price range. The car is very good, has a great ride, good handling, steering and is very fast. The auto box is good as long as you leave it in fully automatic mode. The car is far easier to live with day-to-day than the M5.
This car is up another level from the 5-Series and would give me additional space and quite frankly is a great looking car. I would have to have gone for a pre-facelift model and this would have been before the diet – a car similar to the one that Paul runs on our fleet.
The only other alternative that we thought about was to go for 2 cars. Basically buy something less full on as the family car and have something far more full-on as my fun car. I’d liked the idea of this, as it would have given me essentially a trackday car. In the end however we knew that we just wouldn’t get the use out of the car and that it would be sat around most of the time. So the decision was to buy something that combined the family and my thirst for driving.
The need for a manual gearbox won through and so I began my search for a low mileage nearly new M5. Easier said than done, the first four cars I found on the bmw.co.uk used car locator had all been sold before I had rung up.
So I dropped my details to a number of local delears on the hope I would get wind of one before anyone else. This paid off when someone from Sytner Leicester rang to tell me that Sytner Sheffield had a Le mans blue M5: 9 months old with 12k miles. This little piece of info gave me 3 days lead over the web site and I was able to take my time (sort of) and actually look at the car prior to negotiating.
In the end I didn’t even test drive the car – and manage to come to some agreement over the price – not as good as I’d hoped for – but when is it?
My last week with the Alpina flew by and as I was working away I didn’t actually get to drive that much in the car. The last real drive in the car was the journey up to Sytner Sheffield to see the M5.
This reiterated the tall-order that the M5 would need to live up to. I choose a back-road route to Sheffield to avoid rush-hour traffic and also to enjoy the B10. The car didn’t disappoint and I had a thoroughly enjoyable journey to and from the dealers – making the decision to sell the car all the more difficult.
The next report will be my first proper one for the M5 - I look forward to reporting back.