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Road Test: Wiesmann Roadster MF5
A hot summer day in the countryside near the city of Dülmen, the best possible moment to experience one of the best handling and most powerful roadsters available on the market today. And no it is not British, it is German! Just by saying that we are already giving away our final thoughts even before we have started our story.
Introduced at the International Motor Show 2009 in Frankfurt the Wiesmann Roadster MF5 is the open-air sibling of the GT MF5. Apart from the roof of canvas, the body remains unchanged, and all standard equipment transferred to the roadster, including dual airbags, ABS and stability control. Additionally, the boot of the car is changed and an electrically operated rear wing is added.
Receiving the keys to the V10-powered Wiesmann Roadster MF5 should equal any type of excitement running down your spine. After all a Wiesmann handles like a go-cart and this particular one has no roof, but what can we expect? 507hp (378kW) and 520Nm under the bonnet, resulting in a top speed of 310km/h and a zero to 100km/h (62mph) sprint of just 3.9 seconds. Let’s say we were dying to turn the key and experience the strength, elegance and speed under the open sky.
The roofless MF5 uses the same all-alloy, naturally aspirated 5.0 liter V10 as the outgoing BMW M5, M6 and as its coupé brother. The superb engine is one of the world’s greatest motors producing an astonishing 507bhp at 7,750rpm and 520Nm (383lb-ft) of torque at 6,100rpm. The masterpiece is a high-revving wonder of modern engine technology, yowling its way to that 8,250rpm redline with an exquisite combination of ferocity and refinement. The full 507bhp is only available when the driver selects the sport mode resembling the M performance setting from both BMW’s; the default setting is 400bhp.
The V10 is mounted low and behind the front axle line in a so-called front mid-engined layout. The power is converted to the 19 inch rear light alloy wheels via a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG), a single-clutch automated manual that can be placed in a fully automatic mode or operated manually via the gearshift lever or steering-wheel-mounted paddles. It is the only drive train available for the roofless gecko, which includes a variable-lock differential.
At 1395kg, it is only 15kg heavier than the coupé and half a ton less than both BMW supersaloons. The MF5 deliveres a power-to-weight ratio of 363bhp/ton. The technical setup is combined with a three-way catalytic converter, petrol injection and stainless steel twin exhaust pipes. Stopping power is achieved by massive 374mm front and 370mm rear carbon-composite brakes.
Predictably, the Wiesmann Roadster MF5 performs like a sprinter. Enormous traction off the line combined with the smoothness of a decent sports car providing a kind of unexpected combo between comfort and stiffness. The handling is superb, perhaps in a way a gecko sticks to a wall. Body motions are hardly noticeable and if available superbly controlled and damped. The steering is precise and direct up to a point you can create ludicrous cornering speeds without even approaching the limit. Only one small point of attention would be the steering within corners which can be a bit too light.
Using your courage to reach its limits will reward you. Pushing it hard means surrounding yourself with a kind of thrill you hardly experience daily. The main ingredient of this is the engine. The power is one thing, but the loud sonic presence of the ten cylinders is kept into any driver’s mind. None of the words mentioned here can capture the vocal performance of that V10, the set of camshafts and the exhaust piping back firing every single paddle downshift. This roofless MF5 is every petrolhead’s favorite symphony played by a ten-headed orchestra.
The cabin is completely handmade serving the purpose of positioning the driver deeply into the sporting seats; ready for action. The driver facing chromed dials, the hand-stitched steering wheel, bespoke trim and the LED display behind the wheel explain their meaning after the first drive. Same goes for the position of your feet not being in line with the steering wheel position.
Similar, nobody discusses the outside that could pose uncomfortable questions at first side. You will just open the quality build roof manually, open the windows, switch on the engine and let your right foot do the talking while the person is sitting next to you. All those minor things we have just mentioned never count up to any miserable feeling, no, they are all gone after you have driven the very first meter. This is the true meaning of an open roadster.
Limited to only 55 examples, we have little doubt that all will find their way into the garage of an enthusiastic collector. Everything about the MF5 seems to have been designed to give the driver maximum thrill. Its fantastic combination of nimbleness and power is one big feast while hustling down challenging roads. The V10 has finally found its spiritual home inside this rich man’s weekend plaything. It is raw, thrilling, uncompromised and the closest you can get to a powerful open roadster. Note! Only to be driven when you are in search of something out of the ordinary.