Second Drive

2019 BMW M5 Competition Second Drive | Mission: reignition

Can a malt run help spark renewed love for the Ultimate Driving Machine?

2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • Image Credit: BMW
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • 2019 BMW M5 Competition
 Editors' Pick
Autoblog Rating

The M5 is a wickedly fast yet functional sedan that's adept at both track and touring duties. It's a bit hefty and complex, though, with styling that doesn't go far enough to set this car apart.

  • Trim
    2019 BMW M5 Competition
  • Engine
    4.4L Turbocharged V8
  • Power
    617 HP / 553 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • 0-60 Time
    3.1 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    155 MPH
  • Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    4,370 Lbs.
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    18.7 CU-FT
  • MPG
    14 City / 21 HWY
  • Warranty
    4 Years / 50,000 Miles
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price

I’ve been trying lately to fall back in love with BMW. I’ll proudly champion the i3, drool over the i8, take the long way home in a 2 Series and gladly oblige my son with more exhaust bark from the M850i in the driveway. But the general, less-conditional love I felt for the lineup has dwindled. This love began with fetishizing the Z3 from “GoldenEye” and ended with the adrenaline crash that followed the ecstatic rush of slip-sliding the 1 Series M Coupe around Monticello Motor Club. When Autoblog Road Test Editor Reese Counts asked me if I wanted to review the M5 Competition, it seemed like a decent shot at recapturing that hormonal high that’s been slipping through my fingers in BMWs in recent years. Sure, Reese, I’ll do it.

But instead of taking it to the track, as Autoblog contributor Lawrence Ulrich recently did, I had far less exciting things to get done, and with my pre-schooler in tow. So while Ulrich chased down Porsches in an M5 Competition at Monticello, I strapped the car seat into the back of the uber 5er, and took my 3½-year-old son on a 100-mile round-trip cruise to visit his 93-year-old great-grandmother in physical rehab. You see, Loentine has broken her leg again, and she really likes those chocolate malts from Culver’s. When duty calls, the Snyder boys answer … in a 617-horsepower German monster.

The M5 Competition improves on the already potent M5 with more power, some chassis upgrades and, as befits what is the ultimate version of the M5 currently offered, a number of visual cues. It has light-alloy wheels developed specifically for the Competition version, subtle high-gloss accents and a “Competition” badge on the back, plus black seatbelts with M’s signature blue, purple and red stripes woven into them. There’s also carbon fiber here and there, with a large swath of it comprising the roof.

More — perhaps most — important are the chassis tweaks. The Competition sits 7 mm lower than the base M5, and is generally firmer and sharper. Springs at both axles are 10% stiffer. Details like redesigned roll-bar mounts and increased negative front camber are all meant to make the M5 more responsive and agile.

In terms of power, the difference between the Competition trim and a standard M5 is small: an extra 17 horsepower. Peak torque, unchanged from the standard M5’s 553 pound-feet, is available from 1,800 to 5,860 rpm, as opposed to 1,800 to 5,700 in the regular version. The result, though, was joyful, involuntary hoots when accelerating onto the highway. It doesn’t take long for the boost from the turbocharger to add that extra shove, and just when you’d expect the engine to run out of breath, this thing somehow finds even more speed in reserve. It’s hard to hold back an audible yelp when the M5 feels as though it's ready to lift into orbit. Sitting up a little bit in the seat to gauge the boy’s reaction in the rear-view mirror, he was smiling as the surroundings smeared into a blur of green as we met merging speed over the course of a couple mere heartbeats.

2019 BMW M5 Competition2019 BMW M5 Competition

The soundtrack is so good without being harsh. In fact, it’s a bit on the quiet side from the driver’s seat. I found myself rolling down the window to more fully appreciate the guttural bass growl and easily summoned burbles and pops from the exhaust. With the windows up and the symphony playing on the radio, the car’s soundtrack largely recedes from the cabin.

Despite its hardcore pedigree, this car is anything but punishing. It’s a step in the right (fun) direction from the M850i that enamored Team Snyder so much a few weeks earlier — it’s crisper, more responsive, more mischievous — But I wouldn’t shy away from loading it up and taking it on some grand tour of America’s back roads, with or without my No. 1 road dog cheering me between yogurt pouches.

The M5 Competition is happy to gobble down miles of expressway in a manner that straddles the confidence of a designated hitter in batting practice and the laze of a yachter tanning on the deck. The ride is taut like a flexed muscle. On certain parts of the highway, where expansion joints came in rapid succession, it begins to lose its composure. The one complaint I heard from my son was as the car see-sawed over these small bumps in just rapid enough succession to match some magic frequency to set the car into this rhythmic jouncing. “When are we gonna get off this bumpy road?” my little friend asked. Putting the suspension back into its comfort setting was enough to quiet the ride, and my son.

Off the highway, nice things happen when you let the M5 stretch its legs. Transitioning from cloverleaf to rural roads, one finds there is a lot of grip on offer. The all-wheel-drive system feels pretty balanced, but you can coax a little more rear bias from 4WD Sport mode — or even put it into rear-drive mode — from a menu in the infotainment system. It’s also a setting you can assign to one of the two M buttons on the steering wheel, but user beware: you can’t enjoy 4WD Sport or 2WD mode with full stability control (drop off your kid before attempting such antics).

2019 BMW M5 Competition2019 BMW M5 Competition

With malts in the cupholders, the M5 was happy to calm things down, so as not to spill anything. We successfully helped Grandma beat the heat, and I warmed up to the M5 significantly over the course of the drive. On my way into work the following Monday, I was poking my way through the various settings (and boy are there a lot — engine, transmission, suspension, steering, exhaust, traction and the aforementioned all- and rear-wheel-drive modes) with confidence, trying to squeeze out every last drop from my final miles in the M5 Competition before handing over the keys.

So, did this M5 reignite the spark that’s been missing for so long? I think so, but it’s just that — a spark, not a full flame. Since driving the M5, I’ve caught myself surreptitiously ogling passing Bimmers with a feeling adjacent to lust. I’ve been going back through my Twitter photos and videos to look at the 8 Series, and the X5 and X7 again with fresh eyes, and those memories are somehow just a little bit fonder. The 3 Series still doesn’t get my heart beating any faster, but the M4 CS I drove not long after the M5 felt sweeter and more familiar than I expected. Mercedes and, to a lesser extent, Audi still conjure up easy and instant, vivid sensory memories. Now, thanks to a milkshake run in a Bavarian beast, I’m even more excited to see what BMW does next.

BMW M5 Information


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