The term ‘super saloon’ has been around for decades – it’s one that is something of a juxtaposition, but some day all those years ago when the world was black and white someone decided that throwing the dog, triplets and the kitchen sink in the back of a car that then did 0-100 real quick was a great idea. Turns out it was…
Blast forward to the tinder swiping, Trump bashing bonkers world we find ourselves in today and the very same recipe is still golden. Big booty, barmy power and bountiful comfort is still in fashion, a fashion that one manufacturer has been doing right from the very beginning – BMW.
You can feel the all-wheel-drive shifting power and dragging you out of inevitably embarrassing moments.
I’m at Ascari, the playground for the rich and very brave. There’s a garage behind the pits that is currently brimming with racecars, including an F40 GTE…new pants please. Back to the track – it’s scary, really scary. I’ve been here a few times before and it still to this day remains the only track on the planet where I’ve had a spin.
The track is a mish-mash of some of the best corners in the world, think Silverstone, Laguna Seca and more. There are dramatic elevation changes, big walls and multiple trees to ruin your day and make a mess with. This is perhaps one of the worst places to bring a lardy executive saloon with aggressive changes in direction that require ballerina like balance of weight. I am behind the wheel of the BMW M5 Competition and this is no ordinary executive saloon.
What’s this black Competition badge about then? Well, it’s not just some shiny black bits, cool wheels and a hard to maintain paint finish. There’s some real engineering going on and it is…wizardry. Honestly, I’ve been around the track in anger in a mix of modes and something this big shouldn’t be able to do this. Ahh yes, the modes – this is a step into the unknown for the M5 and BMW M, we have the first ever all wheel drive M car that has the ability to revert to good old rear wheel drive.
I’m pounding around the track chucking the M5 around like a Renault Clio RS and the family saloon is taking it in its stride. With everything (steering, suspension, engine, drivetrain and exhaust) in sport+ the car flatters you. You can feel the all-wheel-drive shifting power and dragging you out of inevitably embarrassing moments. Feeling brave? Press and confirm DSC off and you’ve got less intervention. Immediately the rear is loose and you can take corners like an oversteering Labrador on a polished wooden floor.
Your tongue will be hanging out like the pooch too, it’s good fun feeling the weight transfer swing the rear round like a pendulum before mashing the throttle and letting the all-wheel-drive do its thing. 616bhp (592 without comp pack) is a considerable amount of power. As Aunt May said, with great power comes great responsibility and with power under all four patches the car subtly catches you when you think you’ve got it…when you really don’t.
Firmer dampers and being lower by 7mm than the standard car makes agility light work with solid control over body roll. It’s all very confidence inspiring – you almost forget about the impending death and doom that lurks around the next corner at Ascari.
So the massive power and mammoth 553 pounds feet are managed and civilised on track, but I suspect few owners would venture close to the perimeter fences of circuits let alone testing tracks. What’s the big boy like in the real world? It’s all controlled and very impressive. As with the track experience, the M5 Competition allows you to hoon about like a hooligan without ending up over one of Ronda’s gorgeous cliff edges. The brute force is exploitable, easy and entertaining. Many thrills, few spills.
That being said, stepping out of the M5 Competition after an outing both on road and track and you’re left feeling a tad cold. The M5 is a brilliant car, the Competition package adds a little more dynamic edge making it sharper still – but there are still a few things missing.
As criticisms go, saying anything is too good is weak and feeble. But the M5 really is just great at it all, it takes everything in its stride and there is a lack of drama unless you’re pushing it to the very limit that you cannot do on the public road. Perhaps the engineered sound that is pumped into the cabin has something to do with it, or the smooth ZF automatic transmission and lack of steering feel that creates no drama at all. The M5 is so well rounded and complete that you respect it from always saving you from getting it all wrong, but you might not fall in love with it.
Maybe it would be a little more engaging if it had less power and could remain rear-wheel-drive without threatening to murder you and your family with 616bhp going to the rear wheels (the DSC must be disengaged to induce the two-wheel-drive lunacy).
That being said, this is a car that leaves an impression on you because it does things you would never expect it to be able to do in a package that is understated and underestimated by other road users. Then the lights turn green and you will smoke anything on the slower slide of a 911 Turbo S hunkering down and blasting to 100 in 3.3. The interior feels special with M touches scattered throughout the cabin and it is unbelievably comfortable and rela to drive in soft marshmallow modes, even with the added stiffness of the Comp pack.
The M5 Competition is an all encompassing, comprehensive experience and a serious contender for the title of ‘ultimate daily’. Just make sure you have something small and dainty to really exploit and enjoy on that Sunday morning drive you so often crave…for everything else there’s the BMW M5 Competition.