Auto123 reviews the 2021 BMW M5 Competition.
At BMW, the M badge is shorthand for performance, and a mark of excellence for a sports car. Just like AMG at Mercedes and RS at Audi, the M says the looks and sound are not just for show. And in the M universe, the BMW M5 sedan is particularly notorious. Although it can accommodate five passengers, it was designed to tear up the track. Many sports cars dream of being like it, but very few can match it.
Originally offered with rear-wheel drive only, the M5 is now available in Canada with all-wheel drive. This configuration was introduced in 1997 with the F90 model. In Canada, this transformation has raised the model’s status as an everyday-use car. Since BMW always likes to add to the mix, for the 2021 model year, there's an additional, even more ferocious variant: the Competition.
Compared to the M5 we know, the BMW M5 Competition sports an updated grille, though it’s only been modestly touched up. Fortunately, it has not been contaminated, at this go around, by the oversized honker of the new M3 and M4. The headlights and taillights have a new light signature.
Inside, there are few big changes other than a larger central screen that left us a little cold, in that it takes up a lot of space and can actually obstruct the vision of a short driver. Also, it seems to have been plonked down in its place, as if the designers weren’t sure where to put it and just gave up. Could it have been better integrated somewhere within the dashboard? In our opinion, yes.
Design, interior equipment
Just by looking at it, the design of this M5 exudes an aura of power and super-sportiness. Its wide nostrils inspire confidence and command respect. At the rear, the four tailpipes do their part to convey a beastly style.
Inside, you'll find excellent bucket seats. Overall, the M5's cabin exudes luxury and comfort. Push-button and touch-sensitive controls share the spotlight equally, making it easy to quickly adjust the climate control, radio and driving modes using physical controls.
Options include a heated steering wheel and seats, the latter of which are also ventilated and have a massage function. In the back, the heated and ventilated seats are individually adjustable. The side windows and rear window have a retractable sunshade, ideal for creating real privacy.
The M5 is not really different from other BMW models, in that you have to like advanced technology. Fortunately, operating and navigating the various functions is easy. Sure, getting used to BMW's environment takes some time, but frankly, it's not that bad when compared to some other multimedia systems in the segment. Connectivity with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is offered wirelessly and requires no intervention.
Since we're in an M5, we have to talk about the shifter, called Drivelogic, housed between the front seats. Although this shifter has generated its share of complaints, we find it very easy to use and it can be manipulated with great precision. There’s a "D" mode, which is selected by moving the lever to the right, and an "R" mode, which is accessed by pulling it towards you and then pushing it forward. The "P" mode, located at the bottom of the lever, is easily accessible with the thumb. After a week, all these movements and positions were almost natural.
Now for the most important element: the M5’s engine and the driving experience it delivers! If you've read this far, you probably already know that this car is a beast. With 617 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque generated by a big 4.4L twin-turbo V8 that transmits its power to all four wheels, the M5 is almost impossible to fault in terms of performance. Acceleration is brutal with its 0 to 100 km in 3.3 seconds. It literally sticks to the road, and when it comes time to stop this beast, which weighs in at 2,440 kg, make sure your teeth are firmly in place!
The driving parameters can be individually preset to your liking. On either side of the steering wheel, right next to the paddle shifters, there are two red buttons that can be used to set all the desired modes. These allow you to change them immediately, when desired, and for a selected time. It’s also possible to switch from four- to rear-wheel drive. In this configuration, most of the driving aids are deactivated and only your exceptional driving skills will keep you on the right track!
All this obviously comes at a cost. The price of the M5 we drove has a price of entry of $122,000. That’s a steep price of admission, but in return you get the joy of having an exceptional car with a powerful engine. And if you have a few bucks left in your pocket, you can add the Ultimate Package, which was also included in our tester. It costs $21,500, and, yes, that's the price of a car all on its own! It adds soft-closing doors, rear sunshades, ventilated and massaging seats, room fragrance and more. In short, you get all the goodies.
Our M5 was also equipped with an additional option, which we highly recommend taking, the titanium performance exhaust with carbon tip – though you are forewarned this option will likely draw the wrath of your neighbors. The sound of the beast when starting is simply amazing! Even better, with each acceleration, it's a sublime melody roaring out of these exhausts. If you like to announce your presence, this is for you, and you’ll want to dig around in extra pockets to find the extra $6,000 required to freak out those neighbors and have you smiling idiotically with every acceleration.
A seductive exterior design
Ride comfort in normal mode
We like less
Not suitable for all drivers
High maintenance costs
A never-ending list of options
At this level of rarified performance, the competition is rather thin. But we can name the Audi RS7, the Porsche Panamera GTS/Turbo and the Mercedes E63s in this ultra-sporty sedan category.