REVIEW | The 2021 BMW M5 Competition is a supercar slayer
It beggars belief that in 2021 there are hatchbacks that are quicker than supercars of a decade ago.
An example? With 310kW and 500Nm all from a 2.0-litre, turbocharged-petrol with four cylinders, a Mercedes-AMG A45 S could scoot to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds.
In 2012, the Audi R8 4.2 V8 S-Tronic had a quoted sprint time of 4.3 seconds. The manual car (laugh out loud) would have done the job in a pedestrian 4.6 seconds – that was if you were a bona fide clutch-master. The 5.2 V10 S-Tronic had a claimed 3.6-second sprint time.
There was a point in time when the BMW M5 (E39) was the fastest saloon car on the planet. Twenty-one years have elapsed since it held that honour, punctuated with a really unforgettable advertising campaign that involved a jet-powered vehicle.
The new M5 Competition (F90) is no slow coach, but its sprinting abilities are not beyond defeat, should you perhaps encounter a specimen of that Mercedes-AMG sporting certain aftermarket embellishments.
But it is probably remiss to focus solely on straight-line speed. The realm of the high-performance business sedan extends far beyond this singular dimension. It is also about daily usability, comfort and outright luxury.
Areas in which the M5 performs well. It just so happens that it will register a 3.31-second to 100km/h time too, if you use the launch control function properly.
That figure, recorded by our VBOX Touch, is spot-on when stacked against what the manufacturer claims: 3.3 seconds.
The worst figure we recorded was 4.4 seconds, which was in 2WD mode, where the inevitable break in traction off the line added nearly a whole second to the activity. Either way, quick. But if you wanted to totally escape the prospect of losing to the person in the baby Mercedes-AMG, you may want to consider the M5 CS, which has a claimed sprint time of three seconds flat.
Power in the M5 Competition is rated at 460kW, while torque is a bountiful 750Nm. All that from the familiar twin-turbocharged 4,395cc eight-cylinder in application within a number of upper-tier BMW products.
Among the factors that makes the launch process of the M5 so spellbinding, is how unflustered the eight-speed automatic is as the grunt is meted out. There is no perceptible hesitation as it shifts up, no lapse in surge or interruption, just seamless pull all the way. And beyond: keep the accelerator depressed and you could see the top speed of 305km/h, should you have a suitable environment
Given that it weighs a not-so-light 1,970kg (1,850kg according to the licence disc); the adaptive damping system has quite a task, keeping all that mass in check. It manages well, with notable changes in character on flipping through the variety of driving modes. Handling is further aided by an electronic-mechanically operated differential at the rear axle, while the benefit of all-wheel drive becomes especially clear when hustling the M5 through the corners with gusto.
And even though it can be driven in two-wheel drive mode, you really would not want to exploit that setting on public roads. Our car had the optional carbon ceramic brake discs (R141,000), which provided exceptional anchorage after coming out hot down the Gerotek test facility straight track.
On the conveniences and amenities front, it has all the comforts you would get in the grander 7-Series. Those generously-bolstered seats are upholstered in soft leather, with heating and ventilation functions. You can even specify a heated steering wheel for R2,750 extra as well as a massage feature (R18,200) for true post-drag race de-stressing.
Adaptive cruise control (R23,000) made life on the freeway a whole lot easier, while the R60,000 Bowers & Wilkins audio package pumps any choice of music out in supreme clarity.
We could not seem to make friends with the gesture control system (standard), which errs on the hypersensitive side and was triggered even if you were just raising your hand to adjust your face mask.
Hyper-hatchbacks may have upended the grand performance car establishment in terms of the acceleration metric, but if you want a cosseting drive, capacious boot and room for a family in addition, the super-saloon genre and contenders like the BMW M5 Competition are still quite germane.
PRICING: From R2,307,800