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2019 BMW M5 Competition Road Test Review by Larry Nutson

2019 BMW M5 Competition (select to view enlarged photo)
2019 BMW M5 Competition

2019 BMW M5 Competition
It’s Street Legal

By Larry Nutson
Executive Producer and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

It’s another “just wow” car. The price is wow. The performance is wow.

That said, I live in Chicago and the M5 Competition is not for the streets of Chicago. But that’s OK. It does have its place.

Within ten minutes behind the wheel I knew I should be heading to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL or Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I was dodging potholes thinking about the 35-series tires and pricey 20-inch alloy wheels. A tromp on the accelerator had my wife voicing concerns as her knuckles whitened. Zero to 60 is in a quick 3.1 seconds, so says BMW.

The M5 is priced at $102,600. The M5 Competition ups the game to $110,000.

Add a few option packages and you are quickly at $130K for the most powerful M5 ever.

2019 BMW M5 Competition (select to view enlarged photo)

The 4.4-liter TwinPower turbo V-8 puts out 617 horsepower. It’s buttoned up to an 8-speed Steptronic transmission. Forget a true manual tranny, this is better. It has a manual shift mode using either the shift lever or steering column mounted shift paddles. On top of the shift lever a rocker switch is used to choose among three different modes adjust throttle mapping and shift times offering a choice of efficient, sporty or ultra-high performance driving. Oh, and the M5 is all-wheel drive; not for snow or rain, but for performance driving.

The rear wheel bias delivers fun handling with greater slip angles both in 4WD and 4WD Sport modes, as well as pure rear-wheel drive sans any electronic aids.

BMW applied some wizardry in the exhaust system utilizing a cross-bank exhaust manifold for quick turbocharger response. The M Sport exhaust system features a flap-controlled, twin-pipe exhaust system for a noticeable head-turning sound which changes with the driving mode. Book-ending the rear splitter, quad exhaust outlets tell the story to the folks behind you.


M Ceramic Brakes run $8,500 more. They take some getting used to, as brought to my attention when they jolted me forward as they grabbed. Around town they’re a bit touchy and the initial brake pedal push needs to be a bit lighter than usual. However, with a top speed potential of 189 mph, a proper brake system is indeed important.

A seven millimeter (a bit under 3/10ths inch) lower ride height, firmer engine mounts, transmission oil cooler, specific stiffer spring rates, toe link ball joints, and variable shock damper control all make for a very compelling sport sedan.

2019 BMW M5 Competition (select to view enlarged photo)

2019 BMW M5 Competition (select to view enlarged photo)

The cockpit is typical BMW and indeed wonderful. The low seating position is much to my liking with a power adjustment also for the headrest to go along with the heating as well as cooling. Black seat belts with a striped pattern in BMW M colors and floor mats with model-specific piping plus an “M5” logo add a nice touch. The right-sized steering wheel with its comfortable rim thickness is also the home for two bright red levers. Marked M1 and M2, each can be preset to your personal preferences ranging from family transport to full-blown track driving.

Soft touch buttons for HVAC fan and seat heating and cooling are new. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400) offers excellent sound quality.

Distinctive design elements on the exterior of the M5 Competition help bring instant recognition. High-gloss black is applied to door handles, outside mirrors and the mesh of the grille. High-gloss black trim is also featured on the door window surrounds and B-pillar trim as well as the kidney grille. At the rear high-gloss black adds detailing to the lower rear bumper cover and rear spoiler.

In my “public-road” driving of the M5 Competition the linear power delivery of the engine and rapid gear changes of the automatic left nothing to be desired. Around town, smooth downshifts slowed the car as your rolled to a stop. Everyday driving requires that you really pay attention. The M5 is nimble and athletic while at the same time very tight.

The M5 is loaded with the full contingent of advanced driver assistance safety tech. Adaptive cruise control comes in handy out on the open highway to keep you from drifting upward in the speed band.

Seating is for five however the rear seat can be a bit tight depending on the size of those in the front. Trunk space is plenty for a weekend road trip. I’ve gotten to know BMW’s iDrive interface and find it logical and easy to use. Gesture control doesn’t do a lot for me.

2019 BMW M5 Competition (select to view enlarged photo)

The $4,000 Executive Package offers some nice-to-have features including wireless charging, active park assist, 4-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, surround view camera with 360-degree view.

More information and details on the BMW M5 can be found at

A good option to add on the M5 Competition is the $2,500 M Driver’s Package. It’ll get you one day of instruction at a BMW performance driving school along with increasing the top speed of your car to 189 mph.

Did I mention the price includes a $1,000 gas guzzler tax and the EPA test-cycle ratings are 14 city mpg and 21 highly mpg. Oh yeah, premium fuel, please.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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