Our editor asked me recently what my favorite drive was in 2019. Reflecting, I realize it was indeed another year of great drives. I’ve spent time driving some wonderful German cars on race tracks, autocross courses, flat out on the Autobahn and even in the insane curvy mountain roads of the Alps along the highest mountain road in Austria.
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Unbelievably, my answer for my favorite drive of 2019 lies in a from a helping a bud test drive some BMWs. He’s a rather reclusive wealthy man with excellent taste. He wanted me to go with him to drive a new 2019 BMW M5 Competition to consider joining his Bentley.
We met up at the BMW dealership where they had a white F90 M5 Competition out front for him waiting. We got a thorough rundown on the new M5 Competition from the knowledgeable sales staff. While he was talking, I walk around the car and immediately note the seriously grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires on 20” wheels and Gold caliper Carbon 15.8” vented cross-drilled carbon ceramic brakes.
Ohhh, this is going to be good, really good I tell myself. Then the salesman leaves the key in the car and says make sure you both drive it and leaves us.
Having driven the M550i in Germany, I had some pretty high expectations for the new F90 M5 Competition. The M550i is actually faster than the last generation M5. The all-new M5 though comes with extra kick and sharper handling, should mean an even more impressive drive. In addition to being on a new chassis with more power, the biggest change between generations of M5 is the addition of all-wheel drive, an 8 Speed automatic and loss of a dual-clutch transmission.
I hopped into the passenger seat and rather than focusing on the drive when setting out, took in the interior. BMW M sure knows how to make an interior. The leather smells fantastic, Alcantara roof liner feels great when you run your fingers on it. The mix of Argon Brown leather with black inserts just somehow balances the right amount of luxury with the right amount of sport.
The seats look phenomenal and really hold you well in the corners. Somehow they can provide great lateral support with large side bolsters during hard cornering, yet not beat you up like some more extreme sportcar seats I’ve experienced. I also love BMW’s latest iDrive, 7.0, and how it integrates with the 10.25” screen with touch gestures. It can even run the Apple CarPlay.
As my friend heads out on the interstate, he punches it. All 617 Horsepower, 553 lb-ft of torque twist out of BMW M5’s twin-turbocharged S63 4.4L V8. Power is immediate, and I mean immediate. 0-60 comes in a scant 3.1 seconds, though Car and Driver has tested one as low as 2.8 seconds and a ¼ mile in 11 seconds flat.
This is one seriously fast car. We both look down at the gauges and realize the speed. Naturally, he nails the brakes. Wow! What a ride this is going to be.
When it comes to my turn, I run into the same problem, nail the accelerator unleash all that Bavarian power and realize how easy it is to speed in this car. Fortunately, carbon-ceramic brakes take care of this problem and so I let my foot bite into them scrubbing off speed. Then do the best to restrain myself.
But there is one series of on and off-ramps I need to hit first before we return this beast. I cannot believe for how big this M5 is how small it feels when you drive it as I work my way through some of my favorite twisties. It has a fine balance of power, handling, and brakes.
I haven’t driven the new BMW M5 Competition on the race track. There was one though at the last BMW CCA track weekend I participated in last month when I was out enjoying my old E92 M3. The M5 ran every session without missing a beat and the driver, though new to track driving, was extremely quick in his run group readily passing other cars. I can honestly say, I never desired to drive the last-gen M5 on track because I felt it was too much power to just the rear wheels and was more power than chassis.
The new M5 Competition, though, I cant wait to see what it’s like on a track. I feel like the addition of the all-wheel-drive helps put the power down and settles the chassis. BMW does let the inner hooligan in you out though if you so desire and can route all the power to just the rear wheels via the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system with 2-wheel drive capability. I see this as a nod to their tradition, but not really necessary for performance or diving pleasure.
I marvel at how the BMW M5 Competition shrinks around you as you drive and how BMW somehow manages to control the 4200 lbs as if was my old E36 M3. It honestly is the first BMW sedan I actually felt you could shuttle a family around in during the week. Then pull the child seats out and go bombing down a race track on the weekends and do a superb job at both.
As for my friend, he passed on the BMW M5 Competition, he felt like he would just get in trouble if he had that much power at his disposal every day. But as for me…