In this SUV obsessed era, sedans like the BMW M5 Competition, are treated as an outcast—countless reasons for this. We don’t have roads; they’re too low, they’re impractical- these are all excuses we give each other to justify buying what are effectively trucks with some seats in them. I know, I tested the Audi RS Q8 recently and was utterly gobsmacked by the way it drove. But I also know that if I had a BMW M5 besides it, I wouldn’t think twice.
There is something about a low set seat that amplifies the driving experience, and if you are indeed an enthusiast, you know what I’m on about. The new M5 Competition is not a striking car. It is not a car that a child would attempt to draw on the back of his notebook; it is not something you make gold-digger videos with either. It is the purest form of an enthusiast car and has been that since the first one blew everyone’s head back in 1984.
The M5 has always been a quintessential sleeper in the true sense of the word, and with this more hardcore, ‘Competition’ version things are no different. It is discreet and subtle and blends in like a ninja among other bleak business sedans. But, under the bonnet rests a monster in the form of a 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 pumping out a ridiculous 616bhp and 750Nm. You almost feel for the 8-speed automatic gearbox that transfers this mountain of power to all four wheels, but thankfully, it swaps cogs with ease.
What is a relief is that there are still some purists left at BMW who have kept the options of switching the power to just the rear wheels. And what that means, is you no longer have a safe and sensible performance car, you have a riot on your hands once it goes into 2WD only.
You also get all the tech and features, but with an M5, all you care about are those two bright red buttons on the steering wheel. They are finished in this cherry red shade waiting to be nudged, and once you do that, the M5 forgets everything about its subtlety. ‘M1’ and ‘M2’ are of course customisable, and for my convenience, I had M1 as the comfiest with the steering at its lightest, suspension at its softest, and the engine at its most relaxed state. ‘M2’ though was the alter ego. Everything maxed out, the drive to the rear wheels only, and the exhaust at its throatiest.
These settings are almost therapeutic if you have the M5 on a nice winding stretch of road. Don’t expect it to be as agile and nimble as an M2 or even an M3, but for what it is and its size, you have to commend the creationists at BMW. Sure, the steering feel is a bit artificial and the exhaust note that makes its way through the speakers feels like a bit of a cheat. But nothing matters when you step on the massive accelerator pedal. It shoots ahead leaving behind a cloud of smoke from the tyres and a big grin on your face from ear to ear.
If you are a true aficionado, you will appreciate the stiffened bits on tight hairpins, but to be fair, this is a straight-line champion. It can sit happily at 200+kph and as you lift off, crackle and pop in celebration. It is such a joy to drive that you forget all its shortcomings, and it is largely due to the fact that it isn’t towering above every car out there. It isn’t an SUV. It is a car that requires your full attention and one that deserves it too.