2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review
Within the automotive universe, there are rock star cars.
Like Prince, Beyonce, Madonna, and Bono, you can refer to them simply by one name and everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about.
The M5 is one of these. You don't have to say BMW M5. Everybody knows what you're talking about.
Easily one of the most coveted four-door sedans on the market for driving enthusiasts, the BMW M5 has carved out a niche on wish-lists all its own. While many other manufacturers have tried diligently to build a reasonable substitute, in the end, they all get compared to the M5—never the other way around. This is because BMW keeps moving the bar on those would-be interlopers.
Over the years, the BMW M5, while adhering closely to its basic premise of providing wolf-like performance potential in a rather sheepish-looking package, has always managed to deliver variations on the theme. Like fine wines, even though they can come from the same vineyard and are of the same varietal, different vintages have different characteristics. Similarly, different years of the BMW M5, while all fast and terrific handling cars, exhibit different personality characteristics.
During its 26-year tenure, the M5’s power has come from inline six-cylinder engines, V8 engines, a V10, and a twin-turbocharged V8s. Each powerplant has endowed the BMW sedan with a different character, while adhering to one strict rule—making the BMW M5 the most desirable car in its class, bar none.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Models and Prices
While a part of the larger BMW 5 Series family, the BMW M5 sort of functions as a model unto itself. The base price of the 2014 BMW M5 is $92,900, the competition package adds $7,300, destination and handling adds another $925, and then there is the $1,300 gas guzzler tax All told, a “basic” 2014 M5 with the competition package will sticker at $102,425.
Of course “basic” is entirely relative. Every BMW 5 Series is luxuriously outfitted, and when you go for the M5, you pretty much get a fully loaded 5 Series. Standard equipment includes a driver-adjustable adaptive suspension system, adaptive xenon headlights that swivel to follow the road, smart cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming exterior and interior rear-view mirrors, a sunroof, BMW’s dual-zone automatic climate control system, a multi-adjustable power actuated tilt-and-telescoping steering column, Merino leather upholstery, 16-way power-adjustable sport seats for the driver and front passenger, heated front seats with memory settings, and split-folding rear seats.
Leading the tech side of the comfort and convenience ledger is BMW’s iDrive interface, within which is controlled the navigation system. Voice activation, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, and BMW’s smartphone app integration are also included in the base price. Further, BMW telematics services, traffic information, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system supporting a six-disc CD changer, HD radio, an auxiliary audio input port, and of course, an iPod/USB interface round out the kit.
The $7,300 competition package advances the performance of BMW’s ultimate 5 Series sedan with a freer-breathing exhaust system and special 20-inch wheels with very sticky tires to improve handling. The package also provides more aggressive calibrations of the steering, suspension, and M differential. Black chrome tailpipes are fitted too, just because they look so good.
If you’d like to add more, BMW offers the following packages:
Executive Package — $5,500
• Power rear sunshade with manual rear side window shades
• Head-up display
• Four-zone automatic climate control
• Satellite radio with a one-year subscription
• Active front seats
• Front ventilated seats
• Soft-close automatic doors
• Concierge Services
• Power tailgate
• Comfort Access keyless entry
• Heated steering wheel
• Heated rear seats
Driver Assistance Plus — $1,900
• Active Driving Assistant (includes lane departure warning, collision mitigation, pedestrian detection)
• Active Blind Spot Detection
• Side and Top View cameras
• Speed Limit Info
Lighting Package — $1,900
• Adaptive Full LED Lights
• Automatic high beams
Standalone options include carbon ceramic brakes at $9,250; a Bang & Olufsen sound system at $3,700; Night Vision with Pedestrian Protection at $2,600; and a $2,200 rear-seat entertainment system consisting of a pair of nine-inch video screens fitted into the front seat backs—configured to accept video from portable players (not included).
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Design
One of the most cleanly designed sedans on the market, the BMW M5 has long been renowned for its ability to contain so much performance potential within a rather conservative-looking package. Indeed, were it not for the M5 badges (which can be deleted BTW) one would have to look closely to discern the M5 from other 5 Series models when taken on its own.
When you see the two cars side by side, you’ll note the more aggressive character of the M5, but, the more potent BMW doesn’t scream “look at me, I’m a fast car!!!” Further, all of the additional details that do exist on the M5 are functional; serving only to improve the performance of the BMW.
The most prominent features are the large air intakes in the front fascia, the 20-inch wheels and tires, and the four exhaust outlets at the rear of the car. Also, if you look closely, you’ll note the M5 sits a bit lower on its suspension system that other 5 Series cars. And actually, the competition package equipped M5 sits even lower than “standard” M5 cars.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Comfort and Cargo
All-day comfort is BMW’s long suit, regardless of the model you choose. The M5, with its broad array of luxury features is even more comfortable. Its multi-adjustable sport seats hold you in place firmly and yet comfortably when the M5 is called upon to demonstrate its full potential. With so much adjustability, it’s easy for anyone to find a comfortable combination, regardless of his or her body type.
If you find yourself conscribed to the rear seat of the M5, you’ll be fine—if the driver and front passenger are inclined to be somewhat generous in terms of legroom. While the 5 series does an adequate job of providing rear-seat comfort, it is bested by its 7 Series sibling (and even its new 3 Series GT stablemate) in that regard. This is not to say it is uncomfortable, but it ain’t no limo—OK?
Door pockets, map pockets in the front seat backs, the center console, and the glovebox offer more than ample storage, while the trunk is good for 14 cubic feet of cargo. The rear seats do fold for more storage, but the fixed rear shelf in the M5 restricts the height of the cargo you can carry back there.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Features and Controls
One of the things we’ve always appreciated about BMW interiors is the business-like approach the company takes to their design. Nothing is superfluous, everything you see has purpose. Further, the design caters to the driver in the way few others do. It’s very subtle, but if you look at the center console, you’ll see it’s canted toward the driver. What’s more, all of the primary controls needed to drive the car are placed intuitively and well within reach.
Much has been written about BMW’s iDrive system. While we have always found it readily functional, some have experienced a degree of recalcitrance from it. This latest version features a wide, fixed position screen, and the controller now has a touchpad integrated into it. This permits the navigation system to be programmed by literally writing out your destination.
One of the things about the last couple of iterations of the M5 we’ve found to be a bit cumbersome is the sheer degree of adjustability of its performance parameters. BMW seems to be on a quest to make the M5 nearly perfect for every driver. It strikes us as a bit on the overkill side, particularly when other manufactures do quite well giving the driver a choice of three or four pre-programmed settings. And truth be told, the M5 does this as well, But if you wanted to, you could spend the better part of a month trying all of the different combinations of suspension, throttle mapping, steering aggressiveness, throttle aggressiveness, stability control, traction control, and transmission shift mapping settings.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
For 2014, the BMW M5 is running a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine capable of producing 560 horsepower and 502 ft-lbs of torque. The competition package’s freer-flowing exhaust system extracts an addition 15 horsepower from the engine, for a total of 575. Peak horsepower is achieved at 6,000 rpm, while peak torque is available to the driver from 1,500 rpm to 5,750 rpm with the competition package.
Essentially carried over from the 2013 model, the twin-turbo V8 mounts the turbochargers and catalytic converters between the engine’s cylinder banks to shorten the intake path. This, in combination with the twin-scroll design of the turbochargers eliminates the hesitation many turbocharged engines demonstrate. It also heats the catalysts sooner to produce better fuel economy and lower emissions.
Direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing are also employed to help the engine generate terrific horsepower up high and more than abundant torque down low. With this engine you feel like you’re driving a large-displacement powerplant rather than a force-fed engine.
Fuel economy is quoted at 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway.
Power transmission is handled by the buyer’s choice of a seven-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission, or a traditional six-speed manual transmission. The dual-clutch transmission offers a choice of three shift programs in both automatic and manual modes, so it can be set up to facilitate day-to-day puttering around town, maximize fuel-economy, or out-and-out aggression. Further, a launch control program is fitted to enable the driver to easily extract the maximum acceleration potential in a repeatable fashion.
The BMW’s active M Differential is calibrated to deliver optimal traction and stability. It does this by comparing the position of the accelerator pedal to the rotational speed of the car’s wheels as well as its yaw rate. This prevents wheel spin on slippery surfaces by transferring drive power to the rear wheel with the most grip. This can be very useful when accelerating out of corners.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Earlier, we mentioned BMW has a knack for endowing each version of the M5 with its own unique driving characteristics. Yes, they are all fast, and yes they all handle like sports cars half their size, but within that envelope is space for those achievements to be accomplished in different ways.
A number of reviewers have commented on the fact this is a kinder, more well-mannered version of the M5 than the high-winding V10 equipped iteration of the car it replaces. And while this version of the M5 doesn’t have that raw edge the previous car had, it makes up for it with a great deal more civility when you’re not asking the car to give you all its got.
One could gently drive this M5 around all day long, and aside from the wonderfully mellifluous engine note, be unaware of the performance potential lurking just a few inches farther down in the accelerator pedal’s range of travel. In other words, drive this car conservatively and it will respond with gentility. Drive this car hard and it will respond with a ferocity you’ll be telling your friends about for years to come.
One of the benefits of that broad adjustability is the potential to tailor the ride quality and responsiveness of the car’s various control systems to comfort, sport, or track duty. Further, you can also adjust the steering, throttle, suspension, and transmission independently of one another. Like a sleep-number mattress, you can tailor the M5 to drive softer than you’ll ever want it to, or more firmly than you’ll ever need it to.
Similarly, the stability control and traction control systems give the driver an incredible amount of latitude, ranging from full automatic intervention, to completely off, with a reasonable stop in between—and these parameters can be programmed independently of the aforementioned systems as well.
Long story short, you can set this car up precisely to suit your preferred driving style, and when you get it absolutely dialed in, you can lock that setting in so it can be called up at the touch of a button on the steering wheel. In fact, the M5 allows you to store two such settings. When you do, you’ll find it capable of an amazing degree of performance. With a BMW M5 in your garage, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a desire to go driving just to feel the way the car responds to you.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Safety Equipment
Rolling like this, no way BMW could scrimp on safety features, and indeed the M5 boasts a comprehensive suite of protective gear.
Standard features include four ventilated antilock disc brakes, multi-adjustable traction and stability control, cornering brake control, brake fade compensation, automatic brake drying, and a hill launch assist feature. The BMW M5 also features a standard set of front airbags, a pair of front seat-mounted side airbags, knee protection for the driver and front passenger, a pair of side curtain airbags, dual active front-seat head restraints, and the BMW Assist emergency telematics system—capable of summoning help in emergency situations to the M5, as well as locating the BMW if it is stolen.
Safety-related options include carbon-ceramic brakes, a night vision camera system capable of displaying oncoming animals, as well as objects and/or people beyond the range of the car's headlights. A forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection is offered as well.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
With all of that said, there is a downside to the BMW M5.
The BMW is so good at going fast, and so competent at handling high speed, you’ll have to be doing some pretty amazing stuff to get a truly visceral response from it. Cerebrally you’ll know you’re going fast—after all—the car’s instrumentation will bear that out for you.
But, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing what you’re doing at all.
It’s like cruising in a Boeing 747. You’ll get a rush at takeoff as the plane builds speed and lifts into the air. But after a while, you feel like you’re not moving at all. In your mind, you know you’re doing like 570 miles per hour at 35,000 feet, but it doesn’t feel like you’re moving—at all.
Similarly, after a while, driving the M5 fast is the same way. You’ll know you’re doing in excess of 100 miles per hour, but it won’t feel like it. To feel like you’re going fast in the BMW you have to be going so fast that if something untoward should occur; parts and pieces of the M5 will be strewn over a rather long stretch.
What we’re saying here is the BMW M5 is a car you drive, not a car to let drive you.
2014 BMW M5 Competition Package Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Outstanding performance.
• Near infinite adjustability of its performance parameters
• Sedate styling
• Exceptional comfort and convenience
• Gas-guzzler taxable fuel economy
• High price
• Expensive insurance
• Sleepless nights…