Production of the current BMW M5 has come to an end this week.
The V10 powered saloon and estate have been the most successful model in the history of the M5 which began 26 years ago.
The saloon vastly outsold the estate (or touring in BMW speak) with 20,458 compared to 1025 for the load lugger.
Using probably the last large capacity naturally aspirated engine to be fitted to an M car the 5 litre V10 produced 500 bhp and 384 lb ft of torque.
This meant 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph.
In February of last year I was lucky enough to be asked to drive an M5 on a round trip from London to Seville.
The M5 proved to be as adept a luxury cruiser as it is an out and out sports car.
Most of the trip was spent at 90 mph on the auto-route keeping an eye out for the local traffic cops.
However on the Spanish border I had to detour into the hills as suspected ETA terrorist activity had closed the motorway. The M5 then turned into a nip and tuck sportster with the simple push of a button.
The ‘M’ button on the steering wheel spoke tunes the suspension to its hardest setting, throttle and steering to their most responsive, the automated manual gearbox to its quickest and ensures the engine produces the full 500 bhp’s.
All this made short and enjoyable work of the Spanish back roads and I found my way back onto the main road a few miles south of the closed section of motorway.
The rest of the trip was thankfully relatively uneventful and I could enjoy the amazing performance and noise of that V10 engine. Every tunnel meant all the windows and the sunroof had to be opened and the throttle pounded in second gear. Quite often to the thumbs up approval of local drivers.
Later this year BMW are expected to launch the next generation M5 with a bi-turbo 4.4 litre V8.
It will no doubt be faster and more efficient than the model it replaces but is unlikely to beat the drama and character of that V10.