2018 BMW M5 Competition performance review

BMW’s specced-up super sedan tested in Europe

2018 BMW M5 Competition performance review

Let's cut to the chase, BMW’s new Competition-badged M5 isn’t going to transport you into another dimension of supercar-decimating straight line speed. Munich hasn’t overhauled the (admittedly, already ferocious) powertrain like it has with the M2 Competition, meaning the M5 Comp’s key specs are so similar to the base model from which it’s based, you might ponder what it has to offer over the viscously fast and capable base M5.

Luckily, though, we've been gifted Ascari circuit in Spain as our base to investigate how it’ll justify the extra it’ll ask when it arrives in Australia this September. Because priced at $229,100, it’ll plonk itself $29,100 further upmarket of the base car and right in the middle of Mercedes-AMG E63 and S variants. 

On the surface, you’ll identify one of these ballistic boardroom missiles by way of its grille, rear diffuser, exhaust tips, boot lid spoiler. They’re finished in gloss black. You’ll also see it sits lower, by about 7mm, and wears bigger 20-inch wheels wrapped in slightly wider 275/35 and 285/35 tyres.

2018 BMW M 5 Competition Performance Review Rear Jpg

This 5 Series Competition is a little heavier, too, by 10kg, which shouldn’t matter considering what hides in its bonnet. There’s an extra 19kW built into its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, which now peaks at 460kW at 6000rpm. Torque is identical, at 750Nm, and delivered at a ridiculously low 1800rpm.

The engine fires to life with a robust, dense noise that suits its high-revving personality. The M5 no longer permits, for CO2 reasons, to rev the engine beyond 3500rpm with the shifter in neutral and BMW’s kept the claimed consumption figures to 10.8L per 100km. Matching that yourself, however, won’t be so easy.

At full thrust it’s a tenth faster to 100km/h from rest, dispatching the sprint in 3.3sec. It’ll double that speed in another 7.5sec, then eventually hit 305km/h if you’ve also optioned the driver’s pack (up from 250 clicks).

2018 BMW M 5 Competition Performance Review Engine Jpg

It’s addictive speed that’s accessible thanks to the M5’s on-demand all-wheel drive system. It’s also this extra accelerative grip that has given the new M5 more high-speed roadholding than ever before. But we knew that already, of course. What’s most noticeable about this special Competition variant are the changes made to the way it handles.

Munich's finest have bolstered the Competition’s responsiveness, control, and feedback at its grip limits. More front-end camber improves turn-in, while revised rear trailing arms and a thicker anti-roll bar give the rear end more stability. A good idea, since two-wheel drive mode automatically disables the ESP.

2018 BMW M 5 Competition Side Profile Jpg

The whole package equals silly pace out of flat-out second-gear corners and encourages a level of confidence that invites you to use, rather than manage, its hefty weight to assist cornering. But while its mass shrinks around you, feeling almost agile as an M3, there’s still plenty to gain in being smooth and precise. It’s only that the M5 rewards this method with more speed than ever before.

Everything else feels dialled in to help you get on with it. The eight-speed automatic always offers the right gear, and obeys manual shifting, while the brakes offer sturdy deceleration.

2018 BMW M 5 Competition Gearshifter Jpg

The steering’s more accurate and talkative, while it’s only traded a touch of comfort and ride for the gains in communication and poise.

So, is the new M5 Competition worth the extra splurge? Considering an M5 will do more cruising, commuting, and touring than any other M car, we don’t yet think the improvements made to its on-limit behaviour will get as much use as they would in, say, an M4.

2018 BMW M 5 Competition Front Cornering Jpg

It doesn’t matter, though. BMW Australia, reportedly, will import the Competition exclusively from September. And there’s plenty here to suggest that BMW’s already involving M5 now has extra agility and grip to emerge the best driver’s car in its small niche. 

We can’t help but fantasise our ultimate $230K garage would house an M2 Competition for weekends and a more mundane 5 Series for Monday to Friday. But for one car that can do it all, this Competition is getting bloody close. 

 4395cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 460kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 750Nm @ 1800-5800rpm
Weight: 1865kg
0-100km/h: 3.3sec (claimed) 
Price: $229,000 

Four stars out of five

Likes: Awesome in every respect
Dislikes: You’ll have to pay for the privilege


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