If your idea of a car is a means of getting from point A to point B, look away. If it’s about being the loudest and most obnoxious, perhaps this isn’t the right one for you. If it’s about hypermiling and travelling the longest distance on the lowest possible amount of fuel, what are you even here for? But if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t care much for what other people think of you, who understands welding power without having to shout about it and someone who appreciates the fine subtleties involved in turning the dial up to 11 on an automobile, read on. Because going up to 11 is only just the beginning.
Under the bonnet, sits a 4.4litre TwinPower-Turbocharged V8 that has been tweaked, fettled and breathed upon by seriously fastidious BMW M engineers to churn out a whopping 625 horses and 750Nm of torques. Of course, take those figures with a pinch of salt as they were provided by BMW who have a pretty good reputation for under-declaring their horses. The M engineers have even gone to the trouble of designing a set of bespoke engine mounts unique to the M5 Competition that are stiffer than those found on the standard M5s. Translating into quicker engine response and more immediate transmission of power to the drivetrain when called upon.
And what a marvellous engine those mounts carry with a lovely V8 burble resonating through the cabin on full chat as it sustains its mighty 750Nm from 1,800rpm through to 5,860. With the amount of firepower at your disposal coupled with the M5 Competition’s xDrive system, 0 to 100km/h in this 1.9ton machine comes up in a hardly believable “stomach pushed way back into your seat” 3.3 seconds. Quicker than the time it took you to read the previous sentence.
0-200km/h? A little over 10 seconds (10.3 to be precise). With acceleration unrelenting as it charges up into the horizon towards its electronically limited 250km/h top speed. With the limiters removed, we’ll easily be in the region above 300km/h.
Rapid? That’s an understatement.
Don’t for one second think that this mighty beast of a car is only a straight line bahnstormer either, this is an M car and as such, how it moves laterally is even more important with several changes made in the chassis department. A 7mm lower ride height complete with ten per cent stiffer springs, recalibrated adaptive dampers from the M8 Gran Coupe, firmer anti-roll bars both front and rear, ball-joints for the rear toe links and increased negative camber for the front wheels all combine to enable this M5 Competition to handle in ways a car of this size really shouldn’t.
Easily capable of soaking up every corner you can throw whilst at the same time taunting you to go even faster, driving the M5 Competition eventually becomes a play of “heart over mind” as you start to trust and lean into the car’s abilities more and your sense of physics (and self preservation) slightly less. This isn’t in any way a small car, yet the way it can so easily dig into a series of turns with such poise, composure and agility is incredibly addictive, bettered only by the sheer ferocity in acceleration as it catapults itself out through those same bends, no doubt helped by the M5 Competition’s remarkably clever xDrive drivetrain, slick ZF8 transmission and active M differential.
Even though power can be channelled to all four wheels, the M5 Competition xDrive setup still retains a rear-biased feel when hustling it around at unmentionable speeds. Of course, the M5 Competition retains the ability to decouple the front axles but this is only possible with the traction and stability control systems switched off. With 750Nm on tap through the rear wheels, you’d best be paying (a whole lot of) attention.
As expected, these driving experience customisation options also extend to other aspects of the car’s handling behaviour, allowing drivers to toggle between “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport+” settings for the steering, ride and throttle response. These customised settings can also be saved and mapped to the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel for quick changes whilst on the move without having to go through the myriad of options in iDrive. It sight seem cumbersome at first with so many different permutations possible but once you’ve mapped it to those red buttons on the steering wheel, switching between your favourite drive modes is a cinch.
A new M mode button featured on the center console also allows one the option to quickly switch between ROAD and SPORT drive settings. In ROAD, all the standard and optional driver assistance systems are fully functional. In SPORT, the instrument cluster and the Head-Up Display swaps over to a more driver-focused set of instruments and aside from interventions made by the collision warning and Evasion Assistants, allows all other braking and steering system assists to be disabled.
Going even further, holding down this M mode button brings up TRACK mode and after a quick confirmation on the iDrive, the M5 Competition will deactivate all comfort and safety driver assistance systems. Just like its namesake, probably best to leave this to the confines of a closed circuit.
While all these technological advancements might sound a little too science fiction to some, they do little to take away from the actual driving experience which befitting of any M5, remains sublime. With such a strong amount of handling prowess on display, ride and comfort is surprisingly good and is a really lovely place to be once you’ve settled down for a cruise back into town after an afternoon out attacking your favourite back roads. It is truly remarkable how BMW M have nailed the dual personalities that maketh this M5.
Inside, there are of course, some a couple of areas where we wish BMW toned it down just a tad. Like the gear lever, which comes across as a little “OTT” in an otherwise well thought through Germanic interior and the digital dash UI which I still can’t comprehend without having to put in an extra second or two of brain processing (Thankfully rectified by a brilliantly bright heads-up display unit).
Overall, while the interior dashboard and layout might seem a tiny bit dated right after getting in and out of the brand new M3 and M4, discerning drivers would hardly want for anything more with top-notch materials used throughout all put together with typical Germanic solidity and confidence.
Outside, that same solidity and confidence are projected again through its aesthetics. While it doesn’t shout about what it is capable of, the M5 Competition isn’t a soft-spoken wallflower either. Its visual language is elegant yet muscular, aggressive yet restrained. It is the automotive equivalent of a “smouldering” Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji. Yes, the M5 Competition smoulders.
At SGD$555,888 there is no getting away from the fact that the M5 Competition is quite a considerable sum of money. But think of it another way, as a young enthusiast growing up in the 80s and 90s, I bore witness (from afar) the birth of dream machines that till today, still capture the dreams and aspirations of many a petrolhead today regardless of age. The Porsche 959, the Ferrari F40 and the almighty Mclaren F1. All heroes and legends of the automotive world. All specialist tools crafted with the sole purpose of going as quickly as possible. All of them beautiful in their execution of speed yet highly flawed as road-going automobiles. All of them highly prized today with financial values often mentioned before a flurry of expletives.
0-100km/h in the Porsche 959? 3.7 seconds. The F40? 4.1 seconds. The Mclaren F1? 3.5 seconds. In the company of those aforementioned legends, one could argue that this 3.3-second M5 Competition is a performance bargain.
Loosely translated, the term “Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” basically describes the act of deploying stronger measures than are really necessary to solve a problem. Which is exactly what we have here in the M5 Competition because in the current automotive landscape, it is a cruise missile.
If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.