BMW M5 Touring? This must be the fastest estate in the world?
It certainly is. There are some big numbers all beginning with '5' on this car: 500bhp, from a 5.0-litre V10 - and now squeezed into a 500-litre-boot-toting Touring body. There are few faster ways of transporting your family clutter. Lower the rear seats, and there's a cavernous 1650 litres of bootspace. The M5 Touring is surely the most sensible product to emerge from BMW's legendary M division: the tailgate rises automatic and air suspension keeps the car at the correct height regardless of the load.
It hasn't gone too sensible, has it?
Fear not. This is an M5, after all. That race-derived V10 spins all the way to 8250rpm and musters 383lb ft of twist. It all adds up to some serious performance, dispatching the 0-62mph dash in 4.8 seconds. Top speed is pegged back to 155mph, and the 19mpg appetite isn't exactly sensible, either. All the usual M5 chassis mods are included on the Touring. An M differential lock and electronic damper control are standard, and you can only order one transmission: the seven-speed SMG gearbox, with 11 different shift patterns and speeds depending on driving style.
Does it still look like an M5?
Judge for yourself. Strangely, BMW has chosen to issue photographs during the Detroit Motor Show - but the car isn't at the US exhibition. These shots reveal a discrete performance wagon, with classic M cues: quad exhausts and subtle badging at the rear, the M gills on the wings and a deeper front air dam. The M5 Touring has been announced at the same time as a facelift for the entire 5-series range. Read on to see the full story.
So BMW has facelifted the 5-series as well?
You bet. It hasn't messed with the exterior styling too much, but the nose of the car is subtly different, with newly moulded headlamps and a different kidney grille. The rear lights are new, and the indicators are new, sparkly LED items. But the main news is inside the cabin and under the bonnet. The controversial iDrive controller now gets eight favourite buttons and there's a pistol-grip gearstick on automatic models.
New BMW engines? Tell me more...
Every engine is tweaked and has superior economy. All straight-six engines get new high-pressure direct-injection, with the following results: 550i, 4.8-litre V8, 367bhp 540i, 4.0-litre V8 306bhp 530i, 3.0-litre straight six, 272bhp 525i, 3.0-litre straight six, 218bhp 523i, 2.5-litre straight six, 190bhp 535d, 3.0-litre straight six, twin-turbo, 286bhp 530d, 3.0-litre straight six, turbo, 235bhp 525d, 3.0-litre straight six, turbo, 197bhp 520d, 2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbo, 163bhp
How different is the 5-series inside?
There's a new two-tone finish to the door trim and the window and mirror controls are newly housed in the armrest. The iDrive controller has moved position and BMW has worked hard to make it easier to use. Computer-nerds will love the new gearlever on auto models; it's more like a joystick than a traditional stick - just like on the new X5.