Johannesburg - BMW’S wicked M5 sedan can now be made even wickeder when specced with an optional Competition Package. Although I’m not sure what’s up with the name. I can’t picture many M5s doing any actual competing unless by competition they mean with your neighbour, who may have a standard M5 in his driveway. In which case, the new M5 with Competition Package wins.
The package, which will cost an additional R110 000 on top of a regular R1 320 911 M5, comes with all the usual go-fast goodies, such has lower and stiffer suspension, sharper steering ratios, a freer-flowing exhaust, special 20” rims, and a more aggressive electronic-differential control. But, with an increase in boost pressure, the 4.4-litre biturbo V8 now also makes more power – up from 412 to 423kW - while torque is unchanged at 680Nm.
DOES IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
An increase of 11kW might be difficult to quantify by the seat of the pants so we took it to our test facility and plugged in our Vbox to see more accurately whether the Competition Package could live up to its name. And indeed it does. After fumbling with an incredibly finicky launch-control system and a series of false starts, the CP (let’s call it that for short) hurtled from 0-100km/h in a best time of 4.3 seconds and covered a quarter-mile in 12.3. The standard M5 delivered figures of 4.6 secs and 12.9 secs respectively.
So it’s fast then. Using our ever-growing Quarter Mile Kings log as reference, the M5 CP ranks as the 10th quickest car we’ve tested but also as the second-fastest sedan behind Porsche’s Panamera Turbo S. Further analysis reveals cars such as Audi’s R8 V10, Bentley’s Continental GT and Merc’s SLS Roadster fall between this and the normal M5, proving that 11kW (and perhaps a little launch-control voodoo) actually count for a lot.
In-gear acceleration is absurdly quick, as this tweaked M5 takes less than a second to vault from 60 to 80km/h and another 2.2 to hit 120. The CP doesn’t so much gather speed as ladle it on in heaps. Give it a full boot and the digital readout on the heads-up display jumps digits in 10, 15 and 20 step increments as the speedo needle sweeps across its face.
The normal M5, even without all the Competition Package’s suspension tweakings, is an excellent handler considering its size and the CP is even better. But you’ll have to trust me that it’s impossible to exploit its potential on public roads. This nearly five metre-long sedan is positively humungous in relation to performance-car peers it’s on power par with, and a wide berth is required to really get all its trick bits functioning properly.
SIZE DOES MATTER
The M5 never really “shrinks around you” when pushed hard like, say, an M3, but give it room to roam and it does like to play. Think Great Dane chasing a laser pointer. Get zealous with the throttle mid-corner and that electronically-controlled diff allows for sideways exits – which is often the most effective way, given its long wheelbase.
The steering also comes alive when worked, but don’t expect M3 feel here either; this is a 5 Series, after all, and it was designed to be comfortable, not to give precise feedback. The big sedan’s not exactly clumsy in the bends, but it’s not exactly nimble either.
Imagine doing the lambada with Oprah. She’ll accommodate the fast-paced dance as best she can, but you’ll never be able twirl her around with the same deft as you would, say, Shakira.
Our test car was fitted with a set of huge carbon-ceramic brakes that worked a charm in slowing down this 1870kg behemoth, but the fact that they’re a R110 000 option is a sore point. Assuming the Competition Package will be used for any sort of competition, even if it’s just a track day or two, the bigger stoppers will be absolutely necessary. This is like ordering a burger with the works, but having to pay extra for mayo. I’d prefer if the package was priced at R220 000 and the brakes were included in the deal.
And sorry BMW, but I can’t complete this road test without taking a dig at your Active Sound Design system that replicates exhaust noise electronically through the stereo speakers. Sure, it’s a very faint synthetic hum that some buyers might not even notice, but I did, and it’s equal parts irritating and unnecessary. Just offer an off switch and I’ll be happy.
The Competition Package is like a little extra chilli on the side of an already hot dish. Or, it’s like Oprah Winfrey with a little extra shuffle. - Star Motoring
BMW M5 with Competion Package and Carbon-Ceramic Brakes
Engine: 4.4-litre, biturbo V8 petrol
Gearbox: Seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic
Power: 423kW @ 6000-7000rpm
Torque: 680Nm @ 1500-5750rpm
0-100km/h (measured): 4.3 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 250km/h
Consumption (claimed): 9.9 litres per 100km
Price: R1 550 911
Warranty: Two year/Unlimited distance
Maintenance Plan: Five-year/100 000km
Audi RS7 (412kW/700Nm) - R1 450 500
Chrysler 300C SRT-8 (347kW/631Nm) - R761 990
Jaguar XFR-S (375kW/625Nm) - R1 187 090
Mercedes-Benz E63 S (439kW/800Nm) - R1 449 991
Porsche Panamera Turbo S (419kW/800Nm) - R2 591 000
Follow Jesse Adams on Twitter.