I’ve done quite a few blasts from one side of Europe to the other in my time, sometimes stopping only for comfort breaks and to refuel, but last weekend’s 800-mile dash back from Pau in the south of France to the UK in the new BMW M5 has to be the most pleasurable and painless one yet.

Believe it or not, what surprised me most about the car was not its mighty performance (which you could pretty much take for granted) or its ride and refinement (which are now very impressive) but its touring range. For a car with 552bhp and the ability to get from 0-62mph in 4.4sec to also be able to cover a good 500 miles on a tank of fuel is quite remarkable, I think.

One of the biggest complaints that owners of the outgoing E60 M5 had about their car was its thirst and poor range. With a 70-litre tank and a combined fuel economy figure of 19.1mpg, the V10-engined M5 would be looking for a fuel station after 250 miles, maybe 300 at a pinch.

The new twin-turbo V8 M5 not only has a bigger, 80-litre fuel tank but is also massively more economical than its forebear, with a combined figure of 28.5mpg. That gives it a real-world range of 502 miles, which is quite something when you consider how fast it is (and believe me, its performance is truly epic).

That much-improved range is a sign of the direction in which BMW has gone with the F10 M5. Like it or not, this is a very different car from its highly strung predecessor – not as ultimately thrilling, perhaps, but certainly more well rounded and versatile. Whether that’s how we should be describing an M5 is still open for debate, but there’s no question that, from a technical point of view, the latest one is an amazing piece of work, making 800-mile blasts seem like a quick run down to the shops.