ROAD TEST: Nothing stirs the soul like proper BMW racing snake

Mark Jones lets the new BMW M2 Competition and M5 Competition loose at Gerotek.

What a week! I didn’t just get to drive one special car, but two, in BMW’s M2 Competition and M5 Competition. BMW M and Mercedes-AMG are going at it hammer and tongs and the result is that the brilliant and exciting machinery just keeps coming the way of performance enthusiasts.

BMW M2 Competition

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I will start with the R1 105 500 M2 Competition.

The biggest difference for me is that the car now comes with the engine from the M3/M4 and this is a real BMW M engine in my humble opinion.

I really felt that M owners were short changed with the M2 that ran a tweaked 272kW/500Nm version of the 240i engine.

Ironically my test data backed this feeling up and in a straight line, the two cars were almost identical in performance terms.

This is no longer the case with the Competition. Off the line, using the launch control function of the M-DCT gearbox, it’s a dice only to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds (only so much power you can put through two wheels), from there the 302kW/550Nm Competition gets away from the M2 and gets through the quarter mile mark almost 10km/h faster, to 200km/h some three seconds earlier and crosses the longer 1km mark a full 12km/h faster.

And it stays ahead all the way to its electronically limited top speed of almost 290km/h. Competition adds some goodies that make the car fast through the twisties and a great track day machine too.

You get a carbonfibre strut brace up front for added rigidity and a standard Active M Differential which helps in putting the power down.

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This is backed up by a race ready motorsport oil supply system and the far better than M2, cooling system from the BMW M4 Competition too.

Delving into the options, which our car had, you get bigger six-pot front and four-pot rear M sport brakes and good looking lightweight 19- inch forged alloy wheels.

Outside of the obvious gloss black trim, an enlarged BMW kidney and a new front skirt with increased air flow are exterior signs that point to another important race feature, improved cooling.

On the inside the Competition you get selector switches that control the dynamic characteristics of the car and save them to be accessed easily via the M1 and M2 Buttons.

Optional, as fitted once again, M Sport seats keep you well and truly in place when you start to push on.

This is true driver’s car and before anybody else asks, no the BMW M2 Competition is not faster than the AWD Audi’s RS3 Sportback or RS3 Sedan or TT RS in a straight line.

But as fast and brilliant as everyday cars the Audi offerings are, they do not stir the soul quite like the BMW does.

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Likes

  • Bang per buck unbeatable.
  • A thrill-per-minute experience.

Dislikes

  • Those thrills require skill to extract.
  • Not in my garage.

Verdict

  • Arguably the best BMW M car offering right now.

BMW M5 Competition

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The run-of-the-mill BMW M5 (dare I use such words?) was one seriously fast luxury sedan that was able to scare many a proper supercar owner silly on the road.

And as Mercedes-AMG had launched their E63 S back then, everybody, including us, pitted those two cars against each.

And even though the M5 was just quicker than the E63 S, I felt that the slightly more aggressive looking and sounding E63 S was the pick.

But enter the Competition version of the M5 and now the BMW has the looks and M Sports exhaust soundtrack to match the Merc.

Typically of BMW M, the 4.4-litre V8 Competition does not just look more aggressive, it now also pushes out 460kW of power, which is hike of 19Kw, and an unchanged 750Nm of torque running through an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission to all four wheels via BMW’s M xDrive.

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This means in straight line the M5 Competition puts the power down effortlessly and hits 100km/h in 3.45 seconds, the quarter mile in 11,4 second, the 1km at seriously fast 264 km/h, and is only electronically stopped at 308 km/h.

For the die-hard enthusiasts, I will save you the trouble of looking it up.

These numbers are fractionally down on the standard M5 figures from last year, but there is a 14-degree difference in ambient test temperature against the Competition to explain this away.

But Competition also stands for improved dynamism and here the M5 does not disappoint.

Sure, you will always feel the weight of a full house sedan, but you won’t just drive around this BMW in your luxury sedan, that I can promise you. And this is thanks to a stiffer, 7mm lower, suspension that has been tweaked, along with stiffer engine mounts that allow for a more direct engine response and sharper turn in.

If you think you can really drive, your life insurance is up-to-date and you have checked the exclusions, then you can activate the 2WD setting and burn the rears up at will.

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But you really need to be awake or stupid to drive this car like this on the street, because there are no control systems holding the car back in this mode.

The best place for this kind of behaviour would be the track, but I don’t see many owners doing many track days in an M5 – at least you could if you wanted to.

Inside the changes are minimal with a stripe in BMW M colours for the seat belts, plus floor mats with special piping and “M5” logo, and an “M Competition” graphic that appears in the instrument cluster when you hit the start button.

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Likes

  • Power, poise and luxury in one package.
  • I would take the Competition over the E63 S.

Dislikes

  • Lethal in 2WD mode.

Verdict

  • A supercar slayer of the highest order one day and luxury family car the next.

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