The 2021 BMW M5 competition is sweet to wild
The BMW M5 has retained an incredibly flexible character over the years. Even though technological advancements have propelled it to impressive performance levels, the brand’s mid-size super sedan has remained luxurious and unpretentious enough for understated driving work. While we can expect this sort of bandwidth from any sedan priced close to the $ 105,495 starting point of the updated 2021 model, the M5 still does better than most of the Division’s. personality.
As a reminder, BMW plans to add a lighter and more powerful CS variant to its 2022 M5 lineup, but the Competition model is still the one to get for now. A $ 7,600 option atop the standard car, the Competition package brings dark exterior trims, an active M Sport exhaust, and stiffer springs and suspension components. It also upgrades the horsepower of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 from an official 600 to 617 – the torque of 553 pound-feet is the same for both models – although a trip to the dynamometer revealed that the engine does quite a bit more than that. A skillfully tuned ZF eight-speed automatic transmission continues to hitch up those horses and feed them to a variable-torque all-wheel-drive system with selectable rear-wheel drive mode. All 2021 M5s benefit from subtly revised front and rear bumpers as well as updated grilles and headlights. The competition also gains revised adaptive dampers aimed at improving ride comfort.
With essentially carryover gear, our 2021 competition test car mimicked the exhilarating performance results of previous examples, including all-wheel drive, 60 mph run with just 2.8 seconds launch control, and a blast. a quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 128 mph, with RWD mode launches adding more than half a second to those two times. Also familiar is a hefty 1.00g of grip on the skidpad. The outlier is the 139-foot stop at 70 mph, which is 13 feet shorter than a 2019 M5 competition we tested, despite the new car’s similar weight at 4,237 pounds, wearing Pirelli P summer tires. Identical 20-inch Zero PZ4s and using the same $ 8,500 carbon-ceramic brakes.
But as a true number-generating machine with a million combinations of drive mode settings, achieving high-performance Zen with the M5 Competition takes some work. Winding roads have to be tackled at breakneck speed for the chassis loads to filter through the stiffened suspension and meaty ultra-direct steering wheel, which still doesn’t tilt enough for our liking. Probing the M5’s massive two-lane grip requires engagement and focus to notice the 4WD Sport mode’s greater rear-wheel drive bias and the increased dexterity with which it doses torque to help you adjust your line in the corners. . A day on the track is a surefire way to get around this problem. Engage rear-wheel drive and the new competition track mode for 2021 – which turns off all of the car’s electronic driving aids and turns off the center infotainment display – and you can drag the M5 with abandon. This setup is also good for burnouts. Big smoky burn-outs.
Compared to anything that can be considered a crossover, the M5’s lower center of gravity gives it an automatic advantage in terms of agility. When it comes to same-core two-box sedans, the $ 108,550 Mercedes-AMG E63 S is among the last remaining competitors and produces virtually the same impressive test results. The BMW came out on top the last time these two cars met in a comparison test, mainly thanks to the better overall balance of the M5’s connection to the road. “Thug in a three-piece suit” was the verdict of this Mercedes, though we prefer the crackling rumble of its exhaust to the synthesized 83-decibel rumble of the M5 in the middle of a conversation. A new class of hardcore, fastback four-door – the $ 115,045 Audi RS7 being the winner of our last comparison test – has also joined the fray, but there remains something endearing about how easy the M5’s more traditional form can sneak into traffic and surprise. Unsuspecting supercar drivers in a straight line race.
Basically, the M5 remains a BMW 5 series, the latest iteration of which has become more livable than ever. While we frequently took advantage of our test car’s massive thrust, our average of 19 mpg surpassed the EPA’s combined rating of 2 mpg. And despite the taut suspension and thin sidewall tires that can make a rough ride on bad pavement, recalling all of the car’s settings to comfort turns the M5 into a serene cruiser. Its steering becomes almost light, its shock absorbers effectively round off violent impacts and a thud of 69 decibels infiltrates the cabin at 70 mph. The M5’s backseat, while not roomy from the 7-Series, has enough legroom and headroom for six feet, and its 14-cubic-foot trunk can swallow six carry-ons. While some luxury shoppers may prefer the more glitzy opulence of a Mercedes interior, the innards of the M5 – from very supportive 20-way sport seats to red M drive mode buttons on the steering wheel to striped seat belts. from the Competition pack – are nicely finished.
Some UI weaknesses will confuse the M5 experience for some. Although a consolidated drive mode button with general comfort, sport and track settings has been added to the center console, setting up the preset M modes requires a lot of tweaking with too many vehicle settings. The 12.3-inch instrument display can be confusing and is often difficult to read at a glance. And the central touchscreen – which for 2021 goes from 10.3 to 12.3 inches – is positioned too far from the driver, requiring continued reliance on the central iDrive controller. Regardless of how we would get used to this BMW’s ergonomic eccentricities over time, we appreciate its updated cloud-based navigation system and the addition of Android Auto connectivity to the existing Apply CarPlay functionality.
With a few sizing options, including a custom $ 5,000 BMW Voodoo Blue coat of paint, not-so-stealth, as well as the $ 2,500 million driver’s package that increases the electronically limited top speed from 155 mph to 190, the final tally for our car came in at $ 141,045. Not a great deal, but it’s about $ 5,000 less than the entry point of a mechanically similar M8 Competition Gran Coupé, which is more visually striking than the M5 but a bit stingy at the same time. of joy and civility. Make the effort to remove the many layers of technology from the M5 Competition, and it turns out to be a compelling luxury sedan that’s not lacking in overkill entertainment.
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