Do you care how fast the new BMW Z4 goes around the Nürburgring?

I ask because if you choose the right version of the new car, reportedly it’s quicker than an BMW M2. Which is good, presumably, if you care, or if the German circuit is part of your daily commute. But, for most of us it isn’t.

Is there too much Nordschleife lap timing? I’ve been told there is: that it’s irrelevant, that it actually tells you nothing about how a car drives (except that the ride is probably horrible when you’re not on the Nürburgring), that it is nothing more than automotive showing off.

These things are probably all true. There are some lap times I care about – the Porsche 919 Evo, for one – but, for general road cars, I couldn’t give a monkey’s. I wonder if the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is a less enjoyable car than a slower ’Ring Aventador would be.

Trouble is, it is also useful, in that it’s to some extent a reliable, repeatable performance benchmark, particularly now the old standards have become irrelevant. Cars will go from 0-60mph in as little time as their drivetrains and tyres will allow. And a top speed in excess of 250mph means a car’s character is dominated solely by the fact that it’ll get there. So for the rest of them? 200mph? 207? 198? It genuinely no longer matters.

Which leaves the industry in search of a benchmark it can use to indicate a car’s performance. A lap time does that, and the Nürburgring is the only place they all go, and which is closest – though still not close enough – to a public road. It’s a bit tiresome, then, but the alternative is we decide absolutes don’t matter.

Mercedes one spies official