Rocketship pace in a sensible (ish) suit
There's room for a bit more edge
What is it?
The BMW M5 has enjoyed a similar refresh to the regular 5 Series, but with one crucial difference. While the regular saloon has seen its range swell with a handful of new engine options, the M5’s has halved, from two to one. In the UK, you can now only have the full-bore M5 Competition. And we’re the second biggest market for the M5 behind America (yep, ahead of Germany) so we ought to know a thing or two about how to buy one of these.
Yep, no regular M5. 2020 has definitely dealt us trickier revelations, but it’s an interesting move, because its big nemesis – the Mercedes-AMG E63 – continues with two power outputs, and an entry point below £100,000 (just). Something the M5 Competition can’t offer, prices starting at £102,325 before options. And you will add options. We’ll get onto those in a sec.
Your sole engine option is an almighty twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 with 616bhp and 553lb ft of torque, which fling its two tonnes (including driver) to 62mph in 3.3 seconds. Three point three. Bullets have left guns slower than that. Your top speed depends, again, on options. It’s 155mph as standard, or 190mph with the M Driver’s Pack…
…which is incorporated into a new, £19,000 ‘Ultimate Pack’ that gives you all the juicy stuff in one hit. Carbon ceramic brakes, a carbon engine cover, that higher top speed, heating and massaging in the seats (to make 190 feel as comfy as 70), a big stereo and even a digital telly. BMW says 15 per cent of people go for it in the bigger M8 Competition.
The M8 has actually influenced some of the other tweaks for this updated M5, too. The suspension set up from the M8 Gran Coupe is slotted in here, surely upping the big Five’s comfort game in light of the plusher new AMG E63. There’s also a new M Mode switch on the centre console, which sets the car up ready for sporty road driving or gritted-teeth track driving with a respective push or hold of the button. Separate to all the engine and chassis settings (toggleable via separate M buttons on the steering wheel), this new one shuts off the stereo volume and safety systems at increasing levels for road and track.
Extra complexity? But of course. Modern sports saloons are chockful of it, and the M5 retains the xDrive four-wheel-drive system of before, one which switches to rear-drive only when you want to make mischief. But you’ll leave it largely alone, as it throws so much power to the back of the car in 4WD you’re hardly bumbling around in an understeering mess if you simply press the starter button and head off.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Is ‘too complete’ a valid criticism? The M5 Competition is almighty in its performance and comfort, but found a little wanting when you want a bit of verve and attitude at everyday pace. The kind of pace that doesn't trouble your own morals.
We could list a dozen performance cars the same is true of, however, and at least as a big, posh four-door, this car’s not solely about putting a grin on your face. It’s about slipping into everyday life too. Which the M5 will with utter class.
Merc’s mighty E63 shows us what’s possible when a bit more anger is allowed to bubble to the surface, but in truth the pair of them – as well as Audi’s staggeringly good RS7 Sportback – operate at such high levels now they’re achingly hard to split. Try them all before you pick which one’s for you.