BMW draws inspiration from its rich motorsport heritage when developing its M cars but the new M5 Competition takes things to a whole new level and beyond.
Yes, it will set you back over £100k. Yes, you will need a fuel account with BP and yes, the insurance and tax bills will be through the roof. But if money is no object and a superpowered saloon is on your shopping list, then look no further.
The four-door M5 Competition is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology developing 625hp and 750Nm of torque. That powertrain can drive the M5 Competition to 62mph from a standstill in just 3.3 seconds and onto a top speed that is limited to 155mph. You can opt for an M Driver's pack which lifts the maximum speed to 190mph.
There is an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission that fires through the gears at lightning pace with short ratios and there are steering wheel mounted paddles or shifts via the gear lever if you fancy taking a little more control.
From a styling point of view, the car looks aggressive and muscular from any approach with the newly-styled BMW kidney grille looking more upright and featuring a black surround. There is M5 Competition badging, M-specific fins, new light clusters, a high gloss black spoiler, specialist alloys and twin tail pipes.
Move inside and you will discover the finest Merino Leather upholstery, seats that are power operated, can be heated and have a massage function, a heated steering wheel and lots of soft touch surfaces.
A new 12.3-inch display screen with ultra-sharp graphics is the main focal point and this is where many of the car's systems and functions are accessed via the traditional BMW rotary dial. Our car featured an Ultimate Pack costing an extra Â£19k that introduced a wealth of extra kit, including a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound music system, rear entertainment screens, laserlights, carbon ceramic brakes, soft close doors and a whole lot more.
One of the first things you notice when you take your seat behind the wheel are the red buttons. The first is to fire up the engine, but there are buttons marked M1 and M2 near the steering wheel paddles. These are so the driver can quickly swop between two pre-configured set-ups without having to navigate the many settings to alter steering, braking, gear changes, suspension etc. This is really handy if you go from fast twisting country lanes to city centre driving.
The mannerisms and handling of the M5 Competition can be altered on the fly at the touch of a button with driving modes called Efficient, Sport and Sport+, along with a new M Mode switch for faster road driving or track days.
When it comes to performance, one thing is guaranteed - this car will leave you grinning from ear to ear. The acceleration is blisteringly quick and you reach national speed limits in the blink of an eye. The head-up display is a vital piece of kit because the speed and ease in which it hits the 60mph mark is unbelievable. This head-up display also changes when in Sport+ mode to show a more dynamic rev counter and bright lights to indicate when to change gear.
The road holding is super grippy and bends can be attacked at pace. In the most comfortable settings, the ride is nicely composed and the cabin remains fairly hushed. Move up to the more dynamic drive modes and you can expect a lot more noise from the enhanced exhaust note, along with the pleasure of feeling every bump and dip along the way.
Despite its size - it measures almost five metres in length - the M5 Competition is actually quite agile and easy to manoeuvre through busier town centres. That said; I would think twice about where I parked the car with its Â£98,095 price-tag (Â£118,560 with options). And speaking of cost, running the car will not be cheap either with a combined fuel efficiency figure of up to 25.4mpg and carbon emissions of 252-255g/km.
On the practicality front, the deep boot which is power operated, can accommodate 530 litres of kit and there are plenty of other storage facilities scattered throughout the car, including a central cubby, cup holders, a wireless charging tray, door pockets and a glovebox. There are pockets in the front seat backs and the rear passengers have their own infotainment screens, USB connection ports, climate control set-up, cup holders and door bins.
Obviously, safety systems need to be comprehensive on a car with such firepower and they are. The M5 Competition features a Driving Assistant Professional system as part of the £19k Ultimate Pack whichmeans Steering and Lane Control Assistants are included, which in turn introduces Active Navigation. This system uses navigation data to spot in advance when a lane change will be required, and this can then be performed simply using the Lane Change Assistant.
And the xDrive all-wheel drive system will keep the car going in more adverse weather and driving conditions.
All in all, this new M5 Competition lays down the gauntlet in the super saloon sector - it's stunning to look at, brilliant to drive and has more tricks up its sleeve than a Las Vegas magician. Start saving.