Test Drives

BMW M5 Competition 2018 Review: Incremental, Colossal



The BMW M5 Competition has an insane 625hp on hand, but that’s not the most convincing thing about this sharpened M5

Photos: BMW,  Wolfgang Groeger-Meier

 

Ascari Race Resort, Spain

Best to get this out of the way first: The new BMW M5 Competition has 625hp. On the face of it, that’s mental.

The sixth-gen F90 BMW M5 pictured above was recently unveiled in Singapore, and we test drove it in CB272/CarBuyer.com.sg.

Our verdict on the new M5, which receives all-wheel drive for the first time in its history, is that for the driver, “the AWD-equipped M5 helps make you faster, though perhaps no less intimidated.”

We also said that the last thing any modern M5 needs is more power.

With 600hp the new M5 is ballistically fast and brutal with its unending wave of twin-turbo V8 torque.

So naturally, the BMW M5 Competition (above) has, in an entirely logical way, more power.

The ‘Competition’ label defines a sharper, new sub-breed of M car, as we detailed in our story on the BMW M2 Competition, one that sits above the standard car, but below a CS, GTS, or other go-faster special editions.


There are chassis and cosmetic improvements, but of course the M5 Comp gains 25hp more than the standard M5, for 625hp. 

Torque is the same although it’s extended for an additional 200pm, from 1,800 to 5,800rpm or in other words, any time you’re on the gas pedal more than a touch.

Why? ‘Racing’ amongst racing/high-performance divisions, and the least of it is that now the rival Mercedes-AMG E 63 S  has ‘just’ 612hp.

READ MORE: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About BMW M

 

The M5 Comp is not a small car, but has the same high-level of refinement as the current 5 Series, with the plush leather, hi-res displays, and numerous M-only touches, such as the fat steering wheel, unique gearshifter, seats, and themed seatbelts.


Out on the road, the M5 Comp feels much as we expected: As if it’s too powerful, broad-shouldered and capable for anything but three lane, wide-open, unlimited speed autobahn.

The stiffer springs and lowered ride height make it feel as if you’re flying closer to the ground, despite the raised limo-type seats, but the M5 Competition is still deceptively fast.

Go hard on the throttle and it doesn’t seem all that quick, even looking at the speedo, and only when you engage the powerful brakes do you find out how much sheer momentum the twin-turbo V8 can muster at a moment’s notice.

As the road twists and winds into the Andalusian mountains, there’s an entire kilometre-long section of nothing but washboard corrugations, which highlight the firmer suspension and the reduced comfort over small bumps.

But for the active driver, the reduced roll and improved steering response is worth the trade off when you arrive at wider, twistier roads.


If you intend to go to the track, even more so, as we found out when we drove the M5 Competition on Ascari Circuit.

Ascari, if you haven’t already heard, is a legendary driver’s paradise, with 5.4km worth of gut-churning elevation changes and 26 totally un-straightforward bends modelled after legendary corners from around the world.

So it’s the sort of place you’d want a low-horsepower scalpel – like the M2 Competition – rather than a 625hp, 2.0-tonne super-sedan.

At the pre-circuit briefing, our hosts recommended full-on Sport Plus settings with DSC Off – I did a double-take there, since that is a typically setting I wouldn’t wish on my non-driving-god enemies at Ascari.

Turns out, not only does the M5 Competition not want to kill you at circuit pace, it wants to help you go quicker, and have fun at the same time.

On public roads, the M5 Comp ‘expands’, but on fast, flowing Ascari, it seems to rather incredibly shrink from behind the wheel.

It’s an oft-used phrase that ‘Insert-car-type-here has no business going as fast and hard as this’ but somehow the M5’s mass doesn’t seem to slow it down in light of improved body control, neither is the length not a drawback when the car’s response to your inputs is direct and intuitive.

Once the straights creep into view after a slow corner, applying full throttle makes light of the whole thing, and the thundering V8 powers a jump to lightspeed windscreen view.

The power of the M5, even the base variant, we already know well, and 25hp extra doesn’t change that.

But what the M5 Competition brings to the table is a tremendous amount of extra dynamic ability and fun, even if it isn’t always apparent in every day driving.

If anything, it reminds us of the E60 M5 – not small or light by any yardstick, armed with a colossal engine, but with a chassis good enough that’s it’s not just about the powerplant.

In fact, compared to some other super sedans/four-door GTs, the M5 can be considered a little more old school in a sense as it achieves its blistering pace without torque vectoring or four-wheel steering.

Like the M2 Competition, the M5 Competition seems to claw back a little of that in-the-groove feeling old M cars had so much of. On paper it’s an incremental improvement over the regular M5, but in real life spells a significant boost to the right things an enthusiast driver needs.

 

BMW M5 Competition

Engine 4,395cc, V8, twin-turbo
Power 625p at 6000rpm
Torque 750Nm 1800-5800rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 3.3 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h (305km/h optional)
Efficiency 10.8L/100km
VES Band / CO2 TBC / 245g/km
Agent Performance Munich Auto
Price TBC
Availability TBC

 

 Higher 5

What goes into making the BMW M5 Competition more competitive

– More black gloss trim bits: kidney grilles, intake mesh, window frames, badge, mirror housings, rear diffuser

Engine has more boost, stiffer engine mounts for better handling and sound

– M Sport exhaust system is standard (optional on M5), black chrome tailpipe tips

– Numerous chassis improvements: spring rate increased by 10 percent, new damper tuning, lowered ride height by 7mm, more front wheel camber, ball-joints for more precision handling, stiffer rear roll bar, new mounting for front bar

 

about the author

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Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.