Home > Reviews >  

2021 BMW M5 Competition: Go Ahead, Fully Commit

This 4-Door Missile is Lower, Stiffer, and More Powerful Than the Already Bonkers M5

2021 BMW M5 Competiton Review

You’re so hardcore. You stand tall, like a statue chiseled from granite. The only thing stronger than your jawline is your steadfast resolve. True grit. You absolutely do not go halfway. You fully commit — always. Lucky for you, there’s the 2021 BMW M5 Competition, a lowered, stiffened, more powerful version of the M5.

Such a person would find much of the updated-for-2021 BMW 5-Series lineup substandard, lacking the tools to handle every scenario. You need a large, 4-door missile.  You also need a luxury vessel that caters to your and your passenger’s every comfort. Your life demands a sports sedan that looks equally comfortable entered in a #GridlifeDrift competition and in front of Chez Fancy Place for dinner. And a 540i simply falls short. But then there is the M5 Competition which steps up to the plate.

2021 BMW M5 Competition Review

2021 BMW M5 Competition in action

The 2021 BMW M5 Competition received similar updates to the standard M5 and indeed other 5-Series models. BMW increased the size and depth of the kidney grille, restyled the front and rear fascia, and installed a larger 12.3-inch center console touchscreen, up from 10.25-inches of the 2020 model. Specifically, the Competition model gets two-tone leather seats with synthetic suede inserts, retuned shock absorbers, and a track mode.

A track mode may not sound intuitive for a 196.4-inch long, more than 2-ton luxury sedan, but look closer. Going Competition means getting 10 percent stiffer springs on both the front and rear axle, which also lowers the car by 0.2-inch.

BMW also dialed in more front negative camber, added a firmer rear anti-roll bar, and installed toe-link ball-joint mounts instead of rubber bushings. All of which adds sharpness to responses and more neutral chassis balance. That’s in addition to 20-inch wheels instead of 19s, the aforementioned retuned shocks, and more power. You know, track day stuff.

Linear Power and Plenty of Get-Up-And-Go

2021 BMW M5 Competition Engine

Starting with the motor, you get the same basic twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 as the standard M5, with direct fuel injection, cross-bank exhaust manifolds, and bucket loads of cooling capability, be it for the oil, the coolant, or the pre-combusted air. Those cross-bank manifolds exit inside the valley of the V, making it a “Hot Vee,” which aids in quickly getting hot and energetic air to spin up the turbos and onto the catalytic converters.

The M5 Competition motor takes that recipe and bumps the peak figure to 617 hp at 6,000 rpm. And it does so by holding the 553 lb.-ft torque peak from 1,800 rpm to 5,860 rpm, which is 170 rpm higher than the standard M5. That’s more than 4,000 rpm of peak torque! Needless to say, you get plenty of mid-range pull in this car.

All that muscle gets channeled through an 8-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels — unless you don’t want it to. Wait. What? Yeah, in the M5 and M5 Competition, you decide between all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive sport (which heavily biases the rear wheels), or full-on, old-school, rear-wheel-drive. Choosing the latter does also require turning off stability control, which is fine and dandy.

You do need to leave it in all-wheel-drive to achieve BMW’s claimed 0-60 mph time of just 3.1 seconds, which is a tenth of a second quicker than the standard M5. Even with its hefty curb weight of 4,345 lbs., the M5 Competition has a weight-to-power ratio of just 7.0 to 1. Keep your foot in it and you’ll hit a governed 190 mph, assuming you get the M driver’s package for $2,500 which lifts the top-speed from the standard 155 mph and includes a voucher to attend M driver training.

M5 Competition Delivers For Drivers

2021 BMW M5 Competition rear view

Like this car, M driver training is for drivers. People who relish the chance to sit behind a wheel of a car, find its limits, and dance around them. The Competition really shines here. All the work put into mitigating turbo lag and providing big ranges of peak torque translate to remarkably linear power delivery. And, as long as you let all the wheels receive power, plenty of traction to put it down, too.

Bury the throttle and get thrust into the seatback with nearly a g of force. Shifts bang off in the blink of an eye and rapidly accelerate you to your first corner. As you approach it, the massive brakes clamp down and now more than a g of force presses you against the M seatbelts with M colors stitched in. As you turn into the corner, the heavy steering makes it easy to precisely control turn-in, which takes little movement with the fast steering rack.

BMW M5 Competition front wheel

As lateral gs press you into the heavily bolstered seats, and body movement remains very well controlled, making it easy to make little adjustments to kiss the apex just so. As you exit the corner, apply throttle generously, and you’ll find the M5 Competition lean on its haunches and burst out of the corner mightily, like a toddler running toward a just discovered ice cream truck. Then hustle on to the next corner, enjoying the music of a thunderous V8 and grinning from ear to ear.

The M5 Competition feels athletic, quick on its feet, and well-balanced, feigning sports car moves with a large sports sedan body. Of course, only when you want it to. Near everything that delivers said behavior is adjustable: throttle response, transmission behavior, shock absorbers, steering assistance, exhaust sound, and even stability control behavior and whether the front wheels receive power.

Dialed Back to Luxury

BMW M5 Competition Interior

Switch all the above to the calmer settings, and all of a sudden you feel comfortable enough for a multi-state road trip or a tranquil Sunday drive to see the fall foliage.

That’s when you notice some of the other buttons scattered across the touchscreen and cockpit. Heated seats and steering wheel, ventilated seats, and several massaging options. You can option the car with soft-close doors, a power rear sunshade, and a high-end surround sound system.

Even with the stiff suspension, select the right settings, and the 2021 BMW M5 Competition is a luxury barge.

2021 BMW M5 Competition: More Is More

Of course, none of this is free. The base price for a 2021 BMW M5 Competition is $113,095, and my loaded-up test car would empty a $141,045 bank account.

Staring that number in the face forces you to ask a few tough questions. Such as, even with all that capability, will I actually take this car to the track? This thing is about the size of a late ’90s 7 Series! Do I really need all that sport and luxury in one car?

No. You don’t. But the 2021 BMW M5 Competition falls into the more-is-more category of disposable income. It’s not that you need to, but you can. And in the M5 Competition, there is little you can’t.

The hard-core life beckons; time to fully commit. Learn more about the 2021 BMW M5 Competition here.









Robin Warner
About Robin Warner

An engineer by education, Robin loves the technical side of the automobile. But with an insatiable appetite to go racing, he also loves the absolute thrill of driving at the limit. Robin melds those two passions into one when reviewing a car. Looking at the technical side to see how, and how well, that makes the car feel to drive.