MONTICELLO, New York –– The M5 Competition needs a better name. The “Hammer” has been done. C’mon, Dodge has its colorful Hellcats and Demons. Yes, BMW is a sober German luxury brand, but appending “Competition” to the name and decklid of the standard M5 is too subtle for a midsize sedan that can nip a 647-hp Ford GT supercar to 60 mph (BMW says it’ll do the deed in 3.1 seconds, but Car and Driver timed a regular M5 at 2.8 seconds, so it’s almost assured that it’ll beat the GT’s 3 second time. – Ed.), and its claimed 10.9-second quarter-mile is just 0.1 seconds behind the Ford, or the 797-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. That’s madness, or in German, Der Wahnsinn. (Hey, maybe that’s the name!) The M5 Competition’s 617 horsepower (17 more than the M5) and 553 pound-feet of torque is equally Wahnsinn, as I discover during laps at my local stomping grounds, the Monticello Motor Club in New York’s Catskills. To the untrained eye, this M5 might be any other 5 Series, that longtime upholder of the luxury sedan status quo. Trained eyes will spot that Competition badging – optional on front fenders, in case you’d prefer to stay stealthy – with higher-volume air intakes and gloss black applied to the kidney grille, mirror caps, fender gills, rear Gurney lip and apron diffuser. There are also 20-inch lightweight forged alloys and four black-tipped exhaust outlets. After multiple stairsteps in power and price from your basic 530i – from $54,395 and a 248-hp turbo four, to $110,995 and a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 – the M5 Competition helps advance the (somewhat pointless) arms race in sport sedans, provoking both the 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, and the 605-hp Audi RS7 Performance. The last time I drove the standard M5, I was staging an Escape from New York when a wheel was mangled by an evil pothole on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Day trip, spoiled. This time, I was determined to make it to Monticello in one piece, because this baby is even stiffer: Springs and hydraulic dampers are 10 percent firmer than the regular M5’s, the rear anti-roll bar is stiffened, and it’s 0.28 inches lower. For better wheel guidance at the rear, the toe link’s rubber mounts are exchanged for ball joints. BMW says the tauter core can be felt even in the car’s Comfort mode, and the morning’s jouncy run on the ancient, hand-cut Belgian blocks of my Brooklyn street seems to confirm it. The M5 makes its entrance through Monticello’s artistically wrought metal gates, flashing an equally classy paint called Donington Grey Metallic. I sign the clipboard sheet proffered by the guard, peering through the BMW’s generous windshield at the rain-dampened 4.1-mile circuit. I’ve enjoyed the adjustable embrace of the BMW’s sport seats, clad in handsome saddle-colored “Aragon” Merino hides. Here, evidence of the M division’s handiwork is subtle, including red-and-blue striped M seatbelts. Round digital gauges flash concentric rings of animation as you approach the …
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|MPG||15 City / 21 Hwy|
|Power||600 @ 6000 rpm|
|Drivetrain||M xDrive all wheel|
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