2020 BMW X5 M Competition review (video)

Bonkers cars are pretty rare these days. On the new-car market anyway. But the 2020 BMW X5 M Competition is about as bonkers as it gets in the premium, non-exotic SUV market. We say non-exotic because if you’re really going cuckoo you can always step into the Lamborghini Urus or new Aston Martin DBX.

In Australia BMW is only offering the X5 M in top Competition specification. That doesn’t mean it’s some hardcore model that’s really only suitable for the track – although it would feel at home there. It’s merely the name BMW M uses for its high-tune models. You can’t miss them; they usually have black badges and front grilles, and black exhaust tips.

Prices for this mad machine start from $209,900 (excluding on-road costs). Expensive, yes. But it’s actually not that bad considering how much you need to dish out for an equivalent Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S (from around $222,700), or Lamborghini Urus (from around $391,968) for that matter. And they offer similar performance. Obviously the 522kW Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the underdog here (from $134,900), but it’s not classified as a premium vehicle.

2020 BMW X5 M Competition – THE SPECS

Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
Output: 460kW@6000rpm / 750Nm@1800-5800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 21×10.5, 295/35  R: 2×11.5, 315/30
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2255kg
Power-to-weight: 4.90:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 12.5L/100km
Economy during test: 14L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 83L/95 RON

Power efficiency: 36.8kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 1.97 seconds*
0-100km/h: 3.73 seconds*
0-200km/h: 12.75 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.36 seconds*
1/4 mile: 11.84 seconds at 192.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.078g
100-0km/h braking: 2.80 seconds at 35.96 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.365g
Decibel at idle (/Sport mode): 55/57*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 93*
Priced from: $209,900

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2020 BMW X5 M Competition – THE PACKAGE

The new X5 M is based on the latest G05 X5, although BMW M applies its own codename and calls it the F95. Even so, it carries across all of the usual practicality, convenience and luxury of the regular X5. We love these bespoke sports seats in the front. They provide excellent support and bracing but also superb long-distance comfort.

Front passengers are treated to BMW’s very latest 12.3-inch multimedia screen with touch functionality, too. It runs on the 7.0 operating system and can be controlled by the intuitive iDrive dial on the console. As per other BMW models, the jump-to menu buttons around the dial really help to reduce distraction for the driver. You soon find you’re so used to it that you don’t even need to glance down at all.

Within the screen are a heap of possibilities. Everything from the usual sat-nav, digital radio, Apple CarPlay, and vehicle settings, to online services and apps, and even comprehensive vehicle status checks (you can check the engine oil or read through the digital manual from the screen). And then our favourite, the M menu. This is where you can configure the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel.

What are they for? Glad you asked. These red buttons allow you to preset the vehicle settings into kind of like a shortcut button. Since there are a number of different parameters to play around with, including 4WD and 4WD Sport drive modes, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus setups for the suspension and engine response, and three settings for the S mode of the transmission… these steering wheel buttons make it a lot easier.

All of these settings can seem a bit unnecessary. And to the average luxury SUV buyer, they probably are unnecessary. However, for all the car geeks out there and the driving enthusiasts, this stuff is gold. For example, we liked the steering in Comfort, the engine in the middle Sport setting, with 4WD Sport and the stability control off. This can all be programmed into either M1 or M2. Then it’s just a matter of tapping the button, and then again to confirm, and away you go. These presets are saved even once the car has been switched off.

As for comfort and space, there is really not much more you could need from the X5. Its naturally tall and upright cabin orientation presents good headroom and legroom in the front and back, and rear passengers are treated to their own climate control, charging ports, and cup and bottle holders. Visibility is also great thanks to big windows, and most of the fixtures and furniture are designed cleanly to provide a clear and open space.

Boot space is measured at 650L or up to 1870L with the rear seats folded down, which you can do from the boot wall. There’s also a 12V socket in the boot, and a very convenient electric-retracting security blind which automatically covers your things when you close the power-operated split tailgate.

There’s also a button that sends the security blind back and down into a cubby hole under the floor if you don’t need it. Seriously. And it’s gone. This is awesome for those impromptu trips to Ikea when you forget to leave the often heavy and bulky cargo blind at home. Here, it just stows itself away, completely out of sight.

2020 BMW X5 M Competition – THE DRIVE

At the business end is a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 colossus. This is the same unit that powers the M5 Competition and the mighty M8 Competition. And it develops the same unruly 460kW and 750Nm. Managing all of that is an eight-speed sports automatic and an M-tuned xDrive all-wheel drive system.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Yes, but this is a heavy vehicle.’ And you’d be right. It weighs 2255kg (tare). That is very heavy. S0me how though BMW M engineers have done things to make sure every spec of that power and torque is put to good use. BMW claims 0-100km/h comes up in just 3.8 seconds. During our Vbox testing on a private road we recorded a best time of 3.73 seconds, and 0-200km/h in 12.75. We also saw the quarter mile finished in 11.84 seconds at 192.9km/h. Heavy? Gravity doesn’t seem to affect the X5 M.

We’re sure we don’t need to tell you just how impressive these numbers are. Let alone for a large premium SUV. The way it builds speed is just extraordinary. There is no letup, no hesitation whatsoever. Put your foot down and just hold on. It propels and charges forward relentlessly. Incredible, spine-tingling stuff. And it sounds very mean and a little bit dirty too, which is nice. You can faintly hear the turbos spooling and whistling in the background.

The X5 M Competition does ride on quite stiff suspension, so when it comes time to take a corner there is very little body roll. We think the ride is probably going to be too firm for the average luxury SUV buyer. But if you’re used to sports cars, this isn’t all that different. It is a proper M model, after all. Going on from our previous X5 tests, we still find it amazing how BMW manages to create such a well sorted and enjoyable-handling package from a large SUV.

It feels nice to drive in normal conditions as well, with good levels of communication coming back through the wheel. Although, we did experience some tramline tug at the wheel on uneven city roads. We suspect the massive 295/35 front and 315/30 rear tyres have something to do with it. Aside from that though, this is a pleasure to drive around town. And you constantly have that V8 burbling away in the background, legitimising its M status and giving you a little confidence kick in the process.

2020 BMW X5 M Competition – THE VIDEO

2020 BMW X5 M Competition – THE VERDICT

It’s hard to pinpoint a target market for this vehicle. This is definitely not one for the faint-hearted. You need to be awake and ready before giving it the beans. Speed climbs really, really quickly. And it tends to surprise you as you don’t expect it from a pampering SUV. So why would anybody want that in a large luxury SUV anyway? Why not, is the only answer we can assume.

The price is slightly lower than its nearest competitor, and you still get to enjoy all of the usual versatility attributes of the regular X5. We guess if you just stepped out of a high-end super sports car and you really need something practical but also want to retain huge speed and power, you’ll feel right at home in this. It is a genuine super sports car wearing an SUV suit.

PROS:
– Extraordinary performance from this engine
– Athletic in the corners; pouncing and willing agility (especially for a 2255kg SUV)
– Really practical and user-friendly interior, some clever touches
– BMW media and hand controller system
– Priced ok against its nearest competitors

CONS:
– Stiff ride
– Some tramlining steering wheel tug, probably due to the epic 295/35 and 315/30 tyres

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.