2019 BMW M5 Competition F90 / G30-based. Power and chassis upgrades make an excellent supersaloon even more tempting.
There’s a sense that not even BMW is quite sure why buyers might choose a standard M5 over the new Competition variant. Yes, there’s the price, but when you’re already spending the thick end of £90,000, what difference does an extra £6500 really make? Even a senior M engineer struggled with the question. He seemed perplexed, as if he knew he had to come up with an answer but couldn’t think why anyone wouldn’t buy the sharpest M tool in the box. Eventually he suggested that ‘maybe the owner of a standard car wants to spend more time on the autobahn’. Hmm, maybe indeed.
So, what have we got? There’s more power, with the twin-turbo V8 producing 616bhp (up 24bhp), but torque remains unchanged at 553lb ft. However, the standard car isn’t exactly a sluggard, evidenced by the fact the Competition improves on the regular M5’s 0-62mph time of 3.4sec by just a single tenth. That said, BMW does claim it’s 0.3sec quicker to 124mph, which is useful.
If I’m honest, any performance gains are hard to detect, the Competition accelerating with the same deranged intensity that puts it toe-to-toe with some seriously exotic sports cars. Still, the Comp adds a little extra spice in the form of a new M Sport exhaust that allows the V8 to find its full baritone bark. It’s not as ear-splittingly, look-at-me loud as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S W213, but for many the BMW’s sotto voce approach is more in keeping with the Q-car qualities of a proper supersaloon.
While the gains from the engine upgrade are marginal, the changes to the chassis are much more worthwhile. For starters, this F90 M5 sits 7mm lower, which combined with the new 20-inch forged alloy wheels gives it a much more purposeful stance. Other changes include 10 per cent stiffer springs complete with recalibrated adaptive dampers, plus firmer anti-roll bar mounts front and rear, ball- joints for the rear toe links and more negative camber for the front wheels. In addition, the engine mounts are 50 per cent stiffer.
You feel the changes immediately, the M5 Competition F90 riding with a little more stiffness, even in Comfort mode. Yet it’s still fairly supple, and once you’ve upped the pace any small loss in compliance is easily offset by greater control. The car responds with greater alacrity to the steering (although there’s still too little communication through the chunky rim); the front tyres bite harder on turn-in.
It helps give the Comp a remarkable sense of agility for such a big machine, a sensation enhanced by the remapped dampers (Sport is best for hard road driving; Sport+ is too stiff-legged) and tougher springs, which keep the BMW more planted and poised over the twisted and torn stretches of tarmac of our Spanish test route. It would be stretching the truth to say the Competition ‘shrinks around you’ – on some tighter sections the M5’s girth causes a sharp intake of breath as you squeeze past oncoming traffic – but it feels more nimble than before and far lighter on its feet than an E63… and a standard M5.
As before, the trick M xDrive transmission plays its part, delivering rear-drive adjustability to keep things entertaining, but assured traction when it gets slippy. Like the standard car, you can also shortcut your favourite settings using the M1 and M2 switches on the wheel, including the hooligan 2WD mode. There are issues with the G30-based M5 Competition F90 – it’s too big and the steering’s still too mute – but the chassis changes have helped turn a really, really good car into one that’s on the verge of being one of the very best.
2019 BMW M5 Competition F90 / G30-based
Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbo
Max Power 616bhp @ 6000-6700rpm
Max Torque 553lb ft @ 1800-5800rpm
Weight 1865kg (336bhp/ton)
Top speed 155mph (limited; 189mph with optional M Driver’s package)
Basic Price £96,205
+ Incredible performance, sharper handling
– Steering still lacks feel; it’s a big old bus
Drive-My rating ★★★★★