Last November we came away from our road and track test of the new BMW M5 convinced that it was the king of the super saloons. On a par with the E63 S AMG in sheer speed, the M5’s chassis is subtly better, and to many eyes the Munich machine is also the sleeker of these two deadly rivals.
While Mercedes launched the E63 AMG and its more potent S version almost exactly one year earlier, no Black Series variant is planned since that badge is the sole preserve of two-door AMG models.
BMW M has a different strategy. Their game plan puts a Competition into the mix above the base model, providing a more hard-core, track focused variant for power hungry customers. Then, at least for the M4, an even more track-focused CS or CSL model tops the range.
Both the BMW M5 (F90) and E63 AMG (W213) are powered by twin-turbocharged V8 motors using the ‘hot-side inside’ configuration, whose shorter intake manifolds reduce turbo lag and improve fast warm up to lower exhaust emissions.
However, the M5 was born with a 400cc displacement advantage over its rival from Affalterbach and leaves the starting blocks with a full 600hp, bringing it within spitting distance of the more highly tuned E63 S AMG’s 612hp output.
Uprated in M5 Competition guise the revised BMW Motor now makes 625hp at 6,000rpm, underpinned by 750Nm of torque between 1,800 and 5,800rpm. That is a useful increase over the standard M5’s 600hp, even if the maximum twist on tap is no greater.
With maximum grip assured by the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the M5 Competition catapults to 100km/h in just 3.3 seconds, which is going some for a car weighing a whopping 1,865kg (DIN) or 1,940kg (EU). The sprint to 200km/h takes 10.8 sec and top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h, although many owners will no doubt specify the M Driver’s Package option, which opens this out to 305km/h.
Despite its massive 20-inch wheels and tyres the well judged steel springs and active dampers of the BMW M5 create a near perfect balance of ride and handling without the added cost and complexity of air springs.
Dialling things up by around 10-percent for the Competition version has not spoilt that balance, and just puts a slight edge on the ride that is compensated for by using the Comfort mode more in normal driving. On the other hand Sport mode is still just fine as there is enough latitude in its ride comfort while its superior rebound control still makes it the setting of choice for most situations. Ultimately the choice is down to your mood on the day.
What the revised suspension calibration has done for the road driving experience is sharpen up the feedback you experience through the steering and seat of your pants when you turn into a bend at speed. The M5 Competition feels a bit tighter, a bit more agile, and even more of a super saloon.
It is on track however, where you can really extend the car to its limits and beyond that the M5 Competition really comes alive. If the truth be told the extra 25hp is barely noticeable and real gains come from the revised chassis settings.
The BMW M xDrive system never allows too much power to be shifted to the front and is very consistent in maintaining the desirable rear-wheel-drive biased high performance car feel.
Meanwhile the front axle exerts its mild stabilising influence to help drag the car out of a bend with maximum possible overall traction. And as with the normal M5 you can switch to rear-wheel-drive only should you wish to showboat and immolate the rear tyres with drifts or doughnuts.