Revised super saloon has pace, poise, purpose and adaptability in spades. Still lacks a bit of authentic V8 hotrod charm, but it’ll be a driver’s car of many facets for the few who can afford it
The sixth-generation of BMW’s M5 super saloon has barely been in UK showrooms for three years, but it is already quite a different prospect than it used to be.The standard M5 has come and gone, withdrawn from the UK price lists despite the fact that BMW UK reckoned, back in early 2018, that a 591bhp executive saloon ought to be more than feisty enough for the majority of customers. Seems reasonable to you and me, doesn’t it? But, of course, it wasn’t. This is the modern luxury car market, where more is always more. Better just hand it over.So along came the extra-hardcore, 616bhp M5 Competition, pretty quickly at that, by late 2018. And that’s the car that has just been replaced by this updated version, which gets many of the mid-cycle tweaks that have lately been applied to the rest of the BMW 5-Series range, as well as some of its own special revisions to exterior, interior and running gear.We’ll get to those. For now, let’s pause while we contemplate the first series-production version of the BMW 5-Series with a pricetag made up of no fewer than six digits. Phew indeed. BMW will tell you, because the standard equipment tally of this car has swollen somewhat, that it is actually better value than the outgoing M5 Competition. Well, maybe – but I’m not convinced that ‘value’ is quite the right word anymore.Fair’s fair: this isn’t the first fast, four-seat executive option of its kind to breach the £100k barrier – and I’m sure it would indeed be ‘surprisingly affordable’ on a two-year finance deal. But however you want to wrap up that price, it clearly takes us leagues beyond a time when a vaguely attainable sticker price, and a compelling ‘bang-for-the-buck’ ownership position, was a key constituent part of the appeal of a car like this.German super saloons used to be pretty simple things. Here’s a car that’s cheaper, faster and more powerful than a contemporary Porsche 911, sir – and about twice as useful. These days, though, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport seem increasingly to prefer pitching their extra-fast four-doors and wagons to people who also have sports cars, track cars, supercars and classics in their collection – but who probably don’t use any one car within it that much – than to people who can only justify spending big on something by genuinely being able to use it every day. People who therefore need their daily driver to be practical, fast and engaging – but also just a little bit realistic – seem to have been forgotten about.