A styling, cabin, tech and chassis nip & tuck for M5 Competition. We test it

Regular readers will know that the previous BMW M5 Competition was the quickest car we ever tested. Quicker than the swiftest Ferraris, Lambos and Porsches we ever strapped our trusty kit to over a quarter-century of testing. That previous grey car in fact twice beat the 3-second mark in two different tests, a few months apart.

M has taken the scalpel to 5

Now the humble four-door family ultra saloon has benefited from a mid-life nip and tuck. So we were most excited to see if this gold one would be even quicker. First however, let’s check what’s changed In line with the recent 5 Series facelift. You’ll notice the new black double-fluted grill design for the squared off kidneys sitting atop a re-profiled bumper with revised mesh air intakes.

New headlights gain L-shaped LED tubes and ultra-bright BMW’ Dynamic Laser Matrix Beams. Add a fresh rear apron, diffuser 3D LED taillights and four new exhaust tips at the back. And black trim all over, plus new look 20-inch wheels. We all think it’s considerably sweeter looking now.

Regular recent 5 Series facelift cabin upgrades also carry over to the M version. Larger 12.3-inch infotainment runs latest seventh generation iDrive. That brings two new buttons nicked from the M8 centre console. One to instantly disable the nannies and switch from Road to Track mode. And even stop the hazard lights from freaking out under extreme braking. The other to pick your favourite engine, chassis and gearbox modes at an instant.

No change under the bonnet

There’s no change under the bonnet. So M5 Competition is still good for a claimed 3.3 second 0-100 km/h blast and 300 km’h top end. With this one’s optional M Driver’s Package of course. The men from M have had a go at M5 Competition’s iconic über power sedan’s chassis though. It gains new dampers, once again swiped from the M8 Gran Coupé. Said to improve comfort by reducing body roll and yaw. And now you can choose of your M Compound brake calliper colour.

That’s over and above the subtle tweaks that see the Competition run 7 mm lower than a regular M5 on a sportier toe and camber set-up. It also has a stiffer rear anti-roll-bar and tauter engine mounts for better response through the driveline. A more ‘Competition’ feel, so to say. But with a harsher ride. Competition may defy its lightweight suggestion, but its 248 kW per ton power to weight is ten up on the stock M5. Also thanks to an M carbon roof and aluminium bonnet.

Getting back to that previous M5 Competition. It was also the first car to ever break the 3-second 0-100km/h barrier on our run. In an astounding 2.97 seconds. It managed 160 km/h in a mesmerising 6.6 seconds and blitzed the quarter-mile in another record 10.9 seconds at 208 km/h! So with the same 460 kW and 750 Nm on tap, we were pretty pumped w to get down to our strip that perfect November’s dawn.

Alas! It was not to be

Alas! It was not to be. Our big bronze M5 Compo ‘only’ managed a 3.24-second 0-100, popped off 160 km/h in 6.8 and the quarter-mile in 11 seconds dead at 205 km/h. Look, that’s still a tenth quicker than claimed. But it’s now slower than the latest Mercedes-AMG E 63 S. Which ran a 3.18 second 0-100. Make no mistake — M5 Competition still thrusts you back in the seat, shoves your brain back into the cranium and your eyes aft in their sockets. Just a touch less so!

Much of the M5 Competition’s incredible performance is of course to do with its all-wheel drive traction. An absolute prerequisite at this heady level, this car is over a second quicker than the wild and barely controllable bucking bronco previous generatio rear-wheel drive M5. And it will keep on delivering that level of performance all day long.

Of course, two point four million rand makes the BMW M5 Competition pretty exclusive. But think of it like this: what will you pay to get to 100 km/h any quicker in any other production car in South Africa right now? We’ll leave you to ponder that one for yourself! — Michele Lupini

ROAD TEST: BMW M5 Competition
Engine: 460 kW 750 Nm 4.4-litre biturbo V8
Drive: 8-speed automatic AWD
0-60 km/h         1.49 sec
0-100 km/h:       2.95 sec
0-160 km/h:       6.61 sec
0-200 km/h        9.97 sec
400m:             10.9 sec @ 208km/h
80-120 km/h:      1.87 sec
120-160 km/h:     2.56 sec
VMax:             305 km/h
Fuel:             10.8 l/100 km
CO2:              243 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y unl/5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R2.328M
RATED:            9
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