East Texas in the BMW M5 Competition

East Texas in the BMW M5 Competition

The BMW M5 Competition, lauded by the motoring press as perhaps the greatest 5 series ever to be produced, powerful, comfortable, and good looking, it's perfect for the executive commuter. Many automotive journalists bemoaned that the previous competition-badged M cars were just too... competition-focused. They complained about the stiff ride and the car being too track-focused, but the new M5 Competition is the kinder, gentler track day sedan.  

I tend to take the opposite position, that the Competition badge should be the rawest, most extreme version of any M car, I had the same feeling about the M2 Competition Sport which should only come with two seats and at least a harness bar, but it seems the Competition badge doesn't equate to weekend track toy as much as one might think. What the M5 Competition really is, is simply the ultimate midsize-performance sedan, and with its new adaptive dampers it is perfect for soaking up long stretches of highway and beautiful backroads, so we took it on a trip through East Texas.

P6 Farms East Texas Road Trip

Our first stop would be P6 Farms to pick blackberries during their annual Blooms and Berries Festival, the farm features a number of nostalgic rides, food, and by far the coolest attraction is the pneumatic apple cannon range.  The roughly fifty-mile drive through the back roads gave me a chance to have some fun with the M5, a few weeks earlier I was in California driving the BMW M4 GT4 car and as part of that program was able to drive the M5 on track at the Thermal Club, but while the M5 felt great on the track in M mode, in standard driving modes it feels slightly disconnected, to truly enjoy the backroads its best to select M1 driving mode. 

The Blooms and Berries Festival was a great way to spend the morning and after picking a bucket of berries, shooting apples at the apple blaster range, and buying some salsa at the gift shop we decided to hit the road and head down the road to Bernardt Winery for charcuterie and a flight. 

East Texas in the BMW M5 Competition

Bernhardt Winery was one of those Instagram vs. Reality experiences where their site and social feed showcased beautiful charcuterie boards, gourmet wine pairings, and flights served in traditional wine glasses. The actual experience was less than ideal, with plastic cups, moldy fruit, and staff that seemed like they would much rather be anywhere else. We finished our flight, left the charcuterie, and headed out. If you are looking for a winery in the area you might consider the Whitley Vineyards Wine Bar or for a different kind of tasting check out The Ferm Meadery in Conroe.  

Margarita Ville Lake Conroe

Our next stop was the Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe, a property that was celebrating its one-year anniversary and was completely packed for Memorial Day Weekend. The island-themed vacation destination boasts four bars, three restaurants, a golf course, a water park, guest suites, and lakefront cottages. Had I woken up at the property and you told me I was in Central Florida I would have believed you. We had been meaning to check out the property since it opened and it didn't disappoint in its kitschy over the top designs and blaring music in just about every corner of the resort. Since we didn't really get to eat at the winery, we settle on the beachside LandShark restaurant, which after experiencing I would best describe as "Applebees by the Sea."

Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe,

If you do like white sand beaches, a lazy river, water slides, and are a big fan of Cheeseburger in Paradise, then Margaritaville might be your next vacation destination. Just be prepared to pay $200-$700 a night even midweek. Our time at Margaritaville could not come fast enough, and I was looking forward to taking the M5 north through the dense pine forests of the Sam Houston National Forest and plus some good East Texas BBQ would make up for the food from our previous stops.

East Texas BBQ

Back behind the wheel of the BMW, I marvel at how many buttons that they have jammed onto almost every surface, the console, steering wheel, dash, even the shifter is covered in buttons. Add in BMW's iDrive and Gesture Controls and every bump of the console or wave of the hand can become a districting scramble to figure out what you just did. Thankfully Gesture Control can be turned off, but all the switchgear is overwhelming and much of it is redundant. Outside of that minor annoyance, the car is surprisingly comfortable, fun to drive, and has more than enough room for luggage and passengers, making it a great car for a family adventure or just a getaway with some friends. 

M5 Competition stands out from the standard M5 thanks to its glossy black trim and 20-inch forged wheels. Inside the sports seats have light-up M5 logos and striped seatbelts, the car is fun in RWD mode, but you feel every ounce of the nearly 4,300 lbs and the 4WD Sport Mode is the safer bet for most activities and will keep you from getting sideways.

East Texas in the BMW M5 Competition

While there is really nothing to complain about with the M5 Competition, for me the M550i xDrive offers much the same driving experience and luxuries for $25,000 less and without the faux race car experience, but if you just want the extra horsepower and the option of the carbon-ceramic brakes, and don't mind the $140,000 (with options) price tag than it might just be the car for you. It's perfect for impressing dads in the Blooms & Berrys Festival parking lot or at the valet stand at a resort, but it's not the track day toy that the hardware, technology, and name would imply. 

It can be a daily driver and a weekend getaway car, it is the heavyweight sports sedan that does it all, but I don't expect to be seeing too many showing up at local track days despite the hype. Is a worthy adversary of the Mercedes AMG E 63 S or Audi RS 7 all of which, when comparably equipped, come in at around the $140,000 mark and also look good parked in front of the country club. The M5 Competition sits at the top of the heap when it comes to the 5 series, and while it does lay down some impressive numbers, the competition package feels more like a package that will be bought as a flex, not an option ordered by hardcore track enthusiasts. If you do get one at least get a good color, Snapper Rocks Blue, Marina Bay Blue, or this Motegi Red, might as well make sure people see you coming.