GRR

This is the new BMW M5 Competition

16th June 2020
Bob Murray

There’s an updated kidney grille (yes, another!), new body colours and a bigger dashboard display, but the most significant thing about the revamped BMW M5 revealed today lies hidden below the surface – at least until you let it loose on track. The renowned fast four-door has been tweaked to be sharper than ever for circuit driving as BMW subtly redefines the balance between autobahn stormer and destroyer of the Nordschleife.

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As before, and as befits a country that’s always had a big love affair with the M5, we Brits get only the top version, the M5 Competition. It’s a facelift of the 2016-introduced car, the sixth-generation of M5, and follows on from the freshening up of the entire 5 Series range earlier this year. As a facelift, most of the car remains as before, including power and performance, but the bits that have changed come with the promise of extra driver appeal.

The big news is the chassis retuning. For the first time, the Competition version gets the rear-wheel-biased M xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, complete with 2WD mode. So now you can enjoy all 625PS (616bhp) through the rear wheels only for what BMW says is an “ultra-pure distillation of M feeling” – and no doubt a reminder of how agile, not to mention how enjoyably oversteery, rear-drive-only M5s of old could be.

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Stiffer new engine mounts ­– almost twice as stiff as those in the regular M5 – unite powertrain and body structure more completely for benefits that BMW says include improved engine response, quicker turn-in and less sullied engine noise.

Like other upgrades, the new dampers come from the BMW M8 Gran Coupe. They are claimed to improve both on-the-limit handling and comfort on the motorway where BMW says there is a noticeable improvement on poor surfaces at high speed.

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Two new quick-access buttons sited next to the gear selector and marked Setup and M Mode offer a less fiddly route to unlocking key elements of the car’s multiple configurations, for both road and track driving. Track mode basically turns off everything you don’t need on track, not just comfort and stability functions but also the radio, the central display screen and the hazard flashers that would normally come on automatically under heavy braking. The M Mode button also allows you to take a brave pill and select rear-drive only.

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If you are really serious about track driving you will go for the optional M Carbon ceramic brakes (they are 28kg lighter apart from their extra stopping stamina) and the M Performance chassis that lowers the body by 5-20mm. Lots more extra-cost M Performance parts are available too for those who want the bespoke approach.

Unlike the new 4 Series, there are no style controversies in the facelifted design to split opinion: it’s all thrusting and aggressive and typically M5. Partnering the latest grille are lights with new LED L-shaped signatures. There’s a particularly distinctive 3D-style of light cluster at the back.

To go with the new front end design the M5 Competition continues with its high gloss black body accents, but it does get five new body colours to tempt, as well as a new design of 20-inch wheel. Inside are all the M features you expect plus the improvements from the range-wide 5 Series facelift, including the larger 12.3-inch central screen.

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As before, the Competition has a small power and performance advantage over the regular M5 with the twin turbo 4.4-litre V8 churning out 625PS (616bhp, 25 up on the standard car) for 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds and 0-124mph in 10.8 seconds. Get the M Driver’s package and the leash is taken off for a top speed 189mph.

The car is available to order now priced from £98,000. That’s the same as before but, M fans may be quick to point out, a full £30,000 more than the new top-of-the-range model from the regular 5 Series range, the M550i xDrive. Yes it has almost 100PS less but at 0-62 in 3.8 seconds is hardly slow…

Junior M5 or the real thing? That’s one question we really look forward to finding out…

  • BMW

  • M5

  • 5 Series

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