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BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested

Published:28 October 2020

BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

► BMW M5 Competition review
► We test the maxed-out M5
► Driven on track and on road

For most people, the BMW M5 is one helluva sports saloon. We can’t recall many people complaining it lacked poke or poise, but BMW’s gone and given us a made-over Competition spec model anyway. 

As the 5 Series range underwent some minor updates in 2020 - spot the tweaked lights, front grille and bumpers all-round - the M5 is Competition-spec only from now in the UK.

CAR lives with the last BMW M5

What does the new BMW M5 Competition give me that the regular M5 doesn’t?

It adds a bit more power, for starters. Max output climbs by 25bhp to an eye-popping 617bhp, the 0-62mph time slices a tenth off… yep, these are marginal gains, alright. Torque is unaffected, at a treestump-pulling 553lb ft from just 1800rpm. Short on grunt it is not.

2020 BMW M5 Competition review by CAR magazine

BMW says revised dampers makes the ride a little firmer for better body control when you’re on it and the electro-traction nannies are reconfigured for slicker handling. There’s also a fruitier exhaust.

So it’s little bits here and there - but they add up to a not-insignificant £6500 premium. Make that £8595 if you go one step further and choose the M Driver’s package that unties the digital shackles of a 155mph v-max to make a 190mph top speed.

How does it drive?

The 4.4-litre V8 turbo was hardly short on muscle before, but now it’s just rampant. Thwack all the settings up to aggressive and throttle response is uncannily brutal, the exhaust note loud and proud. 

2020 BMW M5 Competition driving, side

We like that you can still turn it down from 11, turning the M5 Competition into a more subtle, subdued kind of cruiser. But this is hardly what you’d call a Q car and, if anything, the slightly stiffened-up chassis takes the edge off the M5's all-round everyday usability. We certainly appreciate the added body control on the track, but since you barely scratched beneath the standard M5's talents on the road in the first place, the added benefits of the Competition will be largely unnoticed.

The end result is a little like the Alpine A110 S - stiffer, faster and tidier on track, but on the road? Just a little more annoying than the standard version as it bobs around our naff road surfaces.

The sensible, nagging part of our brain also wonders whether if you were that bothered about the track setup you'd get something different altogether, but as a one-size-fits-all monster? You could drive this 100 miles to a track in comfort, have a great time achieving single-digit mpg figures on the track and wind down with a calm, relaxing drive back home.

BMW M5 Competition V8 engine 2020

If we’re being honest, we’d struggle to spot those 25 extra ponies, too: when 0-62mph takes a scant 3.3 seconds, you can understand the marginal gains. It feels brutally rapid in a straight line.

And the handling?

More subtle tweaks to the chassis hardly transform the handling, but the Competition pack tightens everything up nicely. Turn-in is improved, feeling more grounded and inspiring plenty of confidence as you pile into a series of B-road switchbacks. It’s still a heavy, big car (kerbweight = a lardy 1940kg), but the laws of physics have been tamed with deft accuracy by BMW’s M engineers. Stopping power is equally impressive, but under braking is when the weight chiefly makes itself known - taking just that little bit longer to shed speed as the body pitches back and forth.

The new 2018 BMW M5 Competition interior

So it's undoubtedly impressive, but not without compromise. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+ is just as heavy on-paper, but manages to feel a little lighter on its feet, sitting lower to the ground and with a little less body roll. The downside is the unforgiving ride comfort over a standard model, which the M5 Competition better retains over a regular 5 Series.

We love the way you can flick between RWD and AWD at the touch of the button. The 4wd is in fact the key to the M5’s split personality, letting you play brute or suit card with nonchalant ease.

BMW M5 Competition interior 2020

When powering hard out of second-gear corners, or when not lifting through a set of challenging third-gear esses, all-wheel drive is a big safety bonus.

Verdict

The new 2020 BMW M5 Competition is still one helluva super-saloon. We already rate the regular M5 very highly and this addition just adds more drama, more finesse, more outright muscle to make it even better. It’s heavy, it’s pricey (just over £100k), but for the discerning few, this makes the maximum M5 even better. 

More BMW reviews by CAR magazine

Specs

Price when new: £102,325
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4395cc 32v twin-turbo V8, 617bhp @ 6000rpm, 553lb ft @ 1800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 3.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph (190mph with Driver’s Pack), 26.1mpg, 246g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1940kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • BMW M5 Competition (2020) review: facelifted heavyweight bruiser tested
  • It's a bit of an animal: we've driven the new 2018 BMW M5 Competition
  • It's a BMW M5, Jim, but not as we know it
  • The new BMW M5 Competition price? A cool £96,205 in the UK
  • A badge for discerning M cars fan: the BMW M5 Competition boot
  • BMW M5 Competition interior: a very modern Beemer cabin
  • Choose from a regular M5 or this, the new 2018 BMW M5 Competition

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

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