What do you get? More power, albeit only 25bhp, and the same amount of torque as before from the brawny 4.4-litre V8. That makes the headline figures 616bhp at 6000rpm and 553lb ft in a flat line from 1800rpm to 5800rpm, a 200rpm extension over the standard M5.
The engine is largely mechanically the same as it was. A bit of additional cooling accounts for the 10kg extra the Competition weighs over the standard M5 but, like the additional poke, I doubt that’s what you’ll notice the most about this new variant.
More likely is that you’ll feel the 7mm drop in ride height and new damper hydraulics and springs that are about 10% stiffer all round and are combined with an increase in camber at the front, with modified toe-links and anti-roll bars at the back. It slots into the range straight away and costs £96,205, which is £6500 more than the regular M5.
We rather like the regular car. You can read about one quite often, as we've got an M5 as a long-term test car and we’ve pitched it against its rivals a fair few times for videos, road tests and features, too.
What it does especially well is take you from one place to another very quickly and in quite a lot of luxury. If you want to overtake, or filter into faster-moving traffic, the oomph arrives in reassuring surges, so the capability makes it a particularly easy car to rub along with.
But it ain’t a sports car. I hesitate to use the words ‘sports saloon’, really. Nothing of this size really can be, but some do the noises and responses that make you go gooey better than others. And so far there has been an argument that a Mercedes-AMG E63 does that slightly better than the BMW. I’ve felt that the BMW is a more accommodating and easygoing, and ultimately a more capable car all round. But that AMG V8 makes the right noises.
And I think that’s what BMW is trying to address with the Competition. It has worked.
We’ve tried the M5 Competition in two places: first, a very long, very warm race track, half of which comprises corners. Second, on some very narrow, quite bumpy roads around it. Neither is the autobahn or wide, sweeping Germanic country road that would be best suited, you imagine, to an M5. (But they did quite suit the M2 Competition we tried in the same place.)
The surprise, then, was that it was great. I know, I know: you’re not going to take it to a race circuit. But do, just once, please, to be amazed at what it can do.
If there’s another 1900kg-plus car that can seat five people and yet go and stop and corner like an M5 Competition, and come back after six laps and tinkle and ping away in the pit lane like you’d just taken it to the shops, I’ll be amazed. You can have carbon-ceramic discs as an option on the M5 and, usually, given it’s predominantly a road car, I’m not sure I’d bother: they’re seven grand, and unless you stand on the anchors often, they squeak like a dozen hungry guinea pigs. But they resist fade and deal with the tremendous temperatures generated by a saloon that can go from standstill to 62mph in 3.3sec incredibly well.