BMW M5 Competition: luxury at warp speed

By Miles Downard

BMW’s M5 has legendary status as the world’s best fast saloon car. The recipe has always been quite simple; put a very special, very powerful motor into a fairly standard looking 5 Series body shell, give it some big brakes, beef up the suspension and Bob’s your uncle.

It was what car people call a ‘sleeper’. Doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary but will tear your face off if provoked. Importantly for the owner, it’d do it all in the best of 5 Series luxury.

Does the new M5 Competition live up to what’s come before it? First, some technical details.

Housed inside what is not the usual 5 Series body shells lies one of BMW’s most complicated drivetrain layouts in its history. Up front is a 4.4 litre V8 with two turbochargers, which deliver 460 kW and 750 Nm to all four wheels. Yes, folks, this is an all-wheel-drive M5. However, all hope is not lost as, at the flick of a ‘switch’ (metaphorical, of course, as it’s a setting in the iDrive menu), you can turn your M5 into a tyre-shredding rear-drive hooligan. Performance is staggering with a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed north of 300km/h.

Okay, boring stuff out the way. Is this a proper M5? Unequivocally, yes. The ‘sleeper’ moniker is just about maintained despite the wider wheel arches, big rear bumper diffuser and generally menacing colour scheme. It is brutally fast … this really cannot be emphasised enough. It’ll embarrass a vast majority of supercars. For a two-ton family saloon that’ll fit five people and lots of luggage, the M5 should not go around corners as it does. Immense grip and an ability to put the nose where you want will delight driving enthusiasts. Although, if you would like it to transport you to the office in the utmost comfort, it will. Supportive yet supremely comfortable, infinitely adjustable seats. The ride is sublime thanks to tricks with air suspension and the interior is full of every bit of technology BMW possesses, too much even. I mean, do I really need to change the colour of my interior mood lighting?

Gripes? Well … yes, I do have some. There is a button to activate flaps in the exhaust designed to allow you to have a quiet cruise or revel in that V8 soundtrack. Except there doesn’t appear to be a quiet mode in this Competition model with an optional Akrapovič exhaust. That is not in keeping with the sleeper theme. Nor are the obnoxious cracks and pops that emanate from the exhaust when the car changes gear. Those noises might be cool in your VW Golf GTI, but not so much in a sophisticated super saloon like an M5.

In a world taken over by super SUVs, I applaud BMW and anyone who buys an M5; BMW for bothering to continue to sink so much R&D into what is ultimately a dying market, and the buyer who chooses a wonderful driving experience over a compromised fast SUV.

Price: R2,328,224
Power: 460 kW/750 Nm
Fuel consumption: 10.6 l/100 km
Acceleration (0-100km/h):
3.3 seconds
Top speed:
303 km/h 
Rivals:
Mercedes E63 AMG/Audi RS6

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