BMW M5 Com­pe­ti­tion Even faster. Even more cash

But are the Com­pe­ti­tion ver­sion’s gains over the reg­u­lar M5 ac­tu­ally any use? And are they worth pay­ing £6500 for? By Ge­org Kacher

CAR (UK) - - News -

MAR­GINAL GAINS. Not the sex­i­est of con­cepts – the idea of a lit­tle bit here and a lit­tle bit there mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence – but it’s worked a treat for all sorts of sport­ing set-ups, from Team Sky at the Tour de France to Gareth South­gate’s Eng­land at the World Cup. But does it work here? Thing is, the cur­rent BMW M5 uses a lot of tech­nol­ogy to de­liver a lot of per­for­mance at a high price. It’s a very re­ward­ing, very full-on driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Add a bit more power, tweak the tech and charge more money, and you get the M5 Com­pe­ti­tion, of­fered for sale along­side the reg­u­lar M5. Gains, for sure, but not gamechang­ers.

The spec sheet tells part of the story. You get an ex­tra 25bhp. It cuts the 0-62mph time by 0.1sec. You get the same amount of torque, but the peak out­put is avail­able over a broader rev range. The ride is firmer and the cornering sharper, the elec­tronic aids re­con­fig­ured for an even greater per­for­mance ori­en­ta­tion, and the ex­haust is louder. It also costs £6500 more, or £8595 if you go one step fur­ther and tick the box that ups the top speed from 155mph to 190mph.

The story the spec sheet doesn’t tell is that these changes com­bine to tip the M5 slightly fur­ther over the bound­ary between grand cruiser and grand bruiser; the nee­dle moves a frac­tion fur­ther away from 5-se­ries and to­wards M car. It’s very im­pres­sive, but not nec­es­sar­ily prefer­able.

The 4.4-litre V8 en­gine sounds like a high-revving twin-turbo unit should: impatient, ro­bust, dense, in com­bat mode at the tini­est blip of the throt­tle. But for­tu­nately for your neigh­bours the vo­lu­mi­nous ex­haust sys­tem knows three tonal­i­ties: in ad­di­tion to loud and louder, a stab at the sound con­trol but­ton makes the V8 talk in a more sub­dued voice.

On the road, it’s very hard to de­tect the 25bhp bonus; you’d have to drive the two ver­sion back to back to spot the dif­fer­ence. In terms of han­dling, road­hold­ing and ride, it’s eas­ier to pin down a small num­ber of sub­tle dis­tinc­tions. The spicy Com­pe­ti­tion pack ties the axles and the driv­e­train more firmly to the body. While a lit­tle more front-end cam­ber im­proves the turn-in grip, the re­vised rear trail­ing arms and the thicker anti-roll bar make the car feel bet­ter grounded and more con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing.

At 1940kg, this M5 is alarm­ingly heavy for a model badged Com­pe­ti­tion. But thanks to that se­ri­ous over­load of power and torque, it can record a 0-62mph time that at 3.3sec is in Fer­rari GTC4 Lusso V12 ter­ri­tory. A mere 7.5sec later, the car passes the 125mph mark.

In pre­vi­ous M5s, flat-out au­to­bahn stints were a proper test of courage,

but thanks to all-wheel drive and torque vec­tor­ing that oc­ca­sion­ally crit­i­cal high-speed way­ward­ness has dis­ap­peared for good. De­spite the con­sid­er­able bulk and weight, this four-seater is very nearly as ag­ile as the M3. When pow­er­ing hard out of sec­ond-gear cor­ners, or when not lift­ing through a set of chal­leng­ing third-gear esses, all-wheel drive is of course a big safety bonus.

Driv­ing all morn­ing close to sev­enth heaven, the 617bhp saloon never tires of sum­mon­ing mind-bog­gling cornering grip, while al­ways talk­ing us loud and clear through tricky sec­tions, find­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate gear with prompt ded­i­ca­tion, and al­low­ing us to brake late and then later still.

The M5 Com­pe­ti­tion waltzes like a pro­fes­sional, el­e­gantly danc­ing along the edges of ad­he­sion, invit­ing weight trans­fer to sup­port the rhythm, ef­fort­lessly fath­om­ing the grey zone between carv­ing and slid­ing. Much more so than its pre­de­ces­sors, the 2018 vin­tage M5 re­wards smooth and pre­cise in­puts with a fast, drama-free flow.

Even with the tyres close to melt­ing point, this car is all about trust, bal­ance and re­spon­sive­ness. While the driver’s right foot sets the pace, the beat of progress is up to the gear-shift­ing in­dex fin­gers.

The big­gest chal­lenge for the driver at the wheel is self-re­straint. To ex­er­cise it, don’t look for a but­ton in the cen­tre con­sole. In­stead, you must try not to flick the switch in­side your head.

Wheel de­sign is unique, plus ex­trablack de­tail­ing

Com­pe­ti­tion sits 7mm lower on stier sus­pen­sion with re­vised geom­e­try

Mats and belts are new; screen re­minds you this is a Com­pe­ti­tionev­ery day

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