Volkl's thinking behind the changes to the Mantra involves giving the ski wider appeal. They've taken away the rocker from last season, and given the M5 a more standard camber, and taken away some of the metal from last year's construction. The idea is that the result will be more playful.
By pure coincidence we had the chance to ski last year's Mantra just a couple of days after testing the M5, and the difference was hugely apparent. The old ski felt dull and unresponsive in comparison (although it was a rental ski towards the end of its season...).
But if playful appeal is what Volkl were aiming for, that is what they've achieved. There is so much power in the tail that it powers out of carved turns on the piste and bounces out of the powder - which makes up in large part for a lack of float from the narrow-ish 96 millimetres underfoot. In fact, the ski's eagerness to propel you on gives the impression of a much fatter ski.
The power and playfulness are the standout features though. The Mantra skis wider than it is off-piste, and narrower than it should on-piste, and both factors are partly down to the amount of energy the ski bounces back at you. The flipside of this, though, is the skier has to put the energy into it in the first place.
Strong, energetic skiers will be able to reap the rewards and not regret the rather hefty price tag.