REVIEW | 2019 BMW M5 Competition offers truly ballistic performance

25 January 2019 - 13:16 By Denis Droppa
Boosting the M5 Competition to 460kW has snipped its 0-100km/h time to 3.3 seconds. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Boosting the M5 Competition to 460kW has snipped its 0-100km/h time to 3.3 seconds. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

For most people a 441kW BMW M5, which is capable of dicing with Ferraris and Lamborghinis. would be a sufficiently high-performance car.

But M5 Competition drivers aren’t most people. They’re much the same types as cyclists who spend thousands of rands on lighter components to save a few grams of weight on their bicycles, and the pursuit of marginal performance gains can turn into a one-upmanship obsession.

So here are the facts about this little corner of the sports-sedan universe: a standard M5 is priced at R1,762,807 while the new M5 Competition version sells for R2,062,433. For that, BMW has squeezed an extra 19kW from the V8 turbo 4.4l engine, which now maxes out at 460kW, while peak torque stays the same at 750Nm but is available over a slightly wider rev range.

All this shaves the 0-100km/h time from 3.4 to 3.3 seconds.

Three-hundred grand for one-tenth of a second gain — that’s the cold, hard equation for marginal-gains seekers to chew on. There’s also a claimed 0.3 second improvement in the
0-200km/h blast, which now takes 10.8 seconds.

Along with its athletic enhancements the M5 Competition has more visual attitude in the form of gloss black treatments for the grille, side fender gills, rear spoiler, and side mirrors, while the exhaust tips are in black chrome. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Along with its athletic enhancements the M5 Competition has more visual attitude in the form of gloss black treatments for the grille, side fender gills, rear spoiler, and side mirrors, while the exhaust tips are in black chrome. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

No one said one-upmanship was cheap, but admittedly there is more than just a power tweak to the M5 Competition, which may make the price hike easier to swallow. The new king of M5s also gains a revised M Sport exhaust with an even more vocal soundtrack, and has model-specific chassis tuning and 7mm lowered suspension for an all-round racier experience.

Stiffer mounts now connect the engine to the vehicle’s structure for more immediate transmission of power to the drivetrain, and helps the car to turn into corners with more directness.

Along with its athletic enhancements, the M5 Competition has more visual attitude in the form of gloss black treatments for the grille, side fender gills, rear spoiler, and side mirrors, while the exhaust tips are in black chrome. The footwear has 20-inch Y-spoke mags, replacing the regular M5’s 19-inchers, and they are fitted with mixed tyres: 275/35 tyres up front and 285/35s at the back.

As with the standard M5, transmission duty is performed by an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, which replaces the old dual-clutch auto used in the previous-generation car.

What makes the standard M5 such a great car is how it has become even quicker and more engaging to drive than its predecessor when the metaphorical dial is turned up to 10; yet it’s also a more civilised daily drive when you need it to be.

Where the previous M5 had a ready-to-race demeanour at all times, the new car is a more relaxed commuter, without the oversensitive throttle and snatchy slow-speed gear shifts that made the previous one always feel like a pitbull pulling at the leash in busy traffic.

This civilised around-town behaviour still holds true for the M5 Competition version, and the sporty makeover hasn’t affected its ability to be mellow in urban driving.

Along with its ability to dice with Ferraris, this German sports sedan has a roomy cabin with all the luxury trappings. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Along with its ability to dice with Ferraris, this German sports sedan has a roomy cabin with all the luxury trappings. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The ride’s a tad firmer but if you avoid the worst potholes it’s still a car you can comfortably drive in traffic all day, cosseted in a business-class cabin with all the luxury trappings, with slick and smooth gearshifts.

But when an open road (or racetrack) beckons, this business sedan explodes into action with a fury that takes your breath away. I can’t honestly say I felt the extra 19kW, but this M5 bursts forward with racehorse-like intensity when you ram the throttle, with some righteous V8 thunder providing aural accompaniment.

The car’s attitude is adjusted from the driver’s seat with modes that offer merely ballistic to foaming at the mouth. Breaking with its purely rear-wheel-drive tradition, the new-gen M5 has an all-wheel-drive mode that delivers cornering thrills with more traction.

It’s a rear-biased system that doesn’t fall victim to dreaded understeer, and paired with stability control that quells driver overexuberance, it offers a really satisfying cocktail of controlled aggression.

But drivers in touch with their inner Lewis Hamilton can activate two-wheel-drive mode, which simultaneously deactivates the stability control, to unleash the hooligan, tyre-smoking side of this car.

In whichever mode, this M5 is impressively fleet-footed for an executive sedan that weighs a hefty 1,855kg. It shows great poise in quick direction changes, feeling more pointy than a car this size has any right to.

Is it worth an extra 300k over the standard M5? That’s for the marginal-gains seekers to decide.

Alternatively, you can get a Rob Green Motorsport conversion which adds an extra 74kW for R126,500, if you don’t mind losing your BMW warranty.

Fast Facts: BMW M5 Competition

Engine: 4395cc V8 Bi-Turbo

Power: 460kW at 6 000rpm

Torque: 750Nm between 1 800 and 5 860rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

0-100km/h: 3.3-seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 305km/h (claimed)

Fuel: 13.9l/100km (achieved)

CO2: 242g/km (claimed)

Price: From R2 062 433

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