“Approaching the track, traffic slowed and for the first time I had time to admire the beautifully stitched leather interior and controls layout…”

London, England.

Rollers, Bentleys and Lambos are as plentiful as shopping carts at the local Morrisons supermarket in this exclusive and expensive residential area of the old country’s capital city.

The posh wheels in which I tooled around Primrose Hill for a week was not to be found anywhere but the drive of my temporary city home, blocks away from where the late, great Amy Winehouse spent her final sad days. The 2016 BMW M6 Gran Coupe, priced here at a base price of $129,000, distracted well-dressed locals from their window-shopping. Some shed the coolness and stroked the ‘bonnet’ of the machine, which conceals the massive 4.4-litre M turbocharged, 560 horsepower, V8 engine. It’s sporty looks, racy carbon fibre roof and large air intakes had signalled to them its power.

A few guys, one of whom looked like one of those famous Brit actors whose name you can never remember, broke silence and asked me what it was. Well, they knew it was a Bimmer but wondered at its length.

“It’s like one of those darn Yankee cars . . . . too damned long for my coach house,” he chuckled and strode off into the book store before I could comment.

Yes, at almost five metres in length it was one heck of a challenge to park at the aforementioned food emporium, protruding considerably into the space behind. But it was worth the effort because that cavernous trunk, I mean ‘boot’ was ideal for stashing the huge quantity of sweet confectionary my kids insist I purchase every time I visit the land of my birth.

Pleased as punch with my purchase of malt loaf, Chorley cakes, Curly Wurlys and Jelly Babies, to name but a few calorie-packed treats, I headed over to the less than elite area of Camden Town, where hippies still roam. That was a mistake.

Traffic wasn’t stopped but all four lanes were chock-a-block and merely moving one block took seemed to take an eternity. Thank goodness for the ‘creep on demand’ feature, which kicks in with a light touch of the accelerator and takes the car smoothly up to 14 km/h. I should have been so lucky to reach such a top speed.

I was concerned that one of those ever-weaving London taxis would remove a coat of paint from the Gran Coupe. Needn’t have worried. Well, at least, not about the cabs.

A glance in my rear view mirror, alerted me to a cyclist speedily approaching. The two-wheeler decided we motorists were all going too slowly for him. Just as the motorized battalion picked up a bit of speed he whipped by me on the right. To avoid a collision with a fast ‘approaching’ central pedestrian island he cut in front of me. I veered to the left and curbed the car. He took off, oblivious to the costly damage he had caused to the low profile wheels on the passenger side.

Time to get out of town and put those 560 horses to better use on the motorway. Where would the local gentry spend the weekend?

Ah yes, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a drive of around 90 minutes. It was a chance to renew my acquaintance with F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, as a guest of Ferrari team sponsor Shell. Having him at the wheel might have been more thrilling but while I didn’t push the pedal to the metal, I did cause the horses to break into more than a gallop – zero to 100 km/h in just over 4.2 seconds. The Gran Coupe purrs along and effortlessly breezes by anything you choose it to pass. The seven-speed Steptronic tranny offers seamless movement between the gears. I’m not the biggest fan of gearshift paddles but it was fun playing with them on a busy stretch close to my destination.

Approaching the track, traffic slowed and for the first time I had time to admire the beautifully stitched leather interior and controls layout, all of which are definitely all ergonomically correct.

The cockpit display takes its cues from the driving mode selected using the Driving Dynamics Control switch, the graphics and colors of the displays indicating clearly which of the COMFORT, ECO PRO and SPORT settings has been engaged. Very cool.

And it’s loaded with every safety warning system you can think of: lane departure, pedestrian and collision warning. A mad cyclist warning system capable of evasive action would be a worthy addition for 2017.

Contact the writer at keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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