BMW M550D UPDATE: 1800H
Chris is in Bavaria today to drive the mighty 'M diesel' M550d - home time and conclusions
No fear, our man Chris Harris is in Bavaria today to drive it and tell us what we'll be missing out on and, if it's any good, initiate a PH campaign to bring the car to the UK.
We're possibly getting ahead of ourselves though.
Chris will be posting updates throughout the day so keep checking back to see how he's getting on. First instalment below...
1000h - Munich airport
1015h - Press conference building, Munich
1025h - Press conference
I'll stop cocking-about and listen: this engine is crazy complicated. 2200 bar injectors!
Also being launched is the 640d x drive. Not for UK market (like the M550d, sniff) but shows how serious BMW is about 4WD for high performance.
1240h - A service station in Bavaria, we nick someone else's M550d
Big thanks to Kyle Fortune and Chris Chilton for swapping cars early with us.
1430h - The Autobahn, Garmisch
As a touring, has to be among the best all-event machines. Now off to find a few bends...
20.1mpg?! Er, driven flat-out, it does...
1800h - Munich airport, check-in
Apologies for the sporadic nature of my live blogging today. Driving, filming and patchy network service have made things tricky. Thoughts standing at Munich airport security?
It's kind of two cars in one, but not quite in the way you'd expect.
As a large, comfortable, stable, breezily-rapid cruiser, the M550d is stunning. Give me a touring and I'd be the happiest man around. But, and it's quite a but, this is a long way from being an oily-M5. It feels much less agile, and even though winter tyres gave unrealistic grip levels, I was quite disappointed at the lack of appetite for fun in the chassis. The steering is fine, the ride is firm and the fuel economy when driven very hard fell to 20mpg. We were in a hurry. Will it do 45mpg? Not in my hands it won't.
What this car does is cleverly fill the gap between fast conventional 5s and the big-dog F10M. What it doesn't do is challenge the latter's appeal as the fastest way to transport a family.