We’ve recently gone from spending lots of time in a Land Rover Discovery, which has its capability as an excuse for its considerable size, to a BMW 5 Series, which sorta doesn’t. 

Sure, a BMW 5 Series is now so refined that our sister title What Car? called it its luxury car of the year. That goes some way to explaining the 4966mm length and 2126mm width across its door mirrors, but the M5 also tries to add sportiness to this luxuriance. And sportiness and big cars – at least cars as wide as this – are a hard mix. BMW gets it better than most, but still...

Better use of materials and downsized engines mean modern cars are, generally, becoming lighter, but only little by little. What isn’t joining with that, though, is a notable reduction in size.

I thought that, in the shape of the old Audi RS6 – the one with the V10 engine and a kerb weight the other side of two tonnes – we’d reached some kind of zenith for performance saloons and estates, from where emissions regulations and fear of conspicuousness would mean we’d quickly withdraw. But the latest BMW M5 is both longer and wider than that car.