First Look: 2021 BMW M5 Competition
The sedan still boasts supercar acceleration but gets more track-focused bits
Hot on the heels of the unveiling of its refreshed 5 Series — it’s added a 48-volt mild hybrid option to the sedan and gave the V8 a bigger turbo boost – BMW is sending a revitalized M5 our way.
Although visually the most obvious update is the more aggressive grille and 3-Series-like LED headlights, the real news is that we Canadians will only be getting the high-zoot “Competition” model.
It kinda makes sense. As it turns out, Canuckian motoring elites almost always buy the highest option of the luxury sports cars they’re offered. Indeed, many manufacturers report that, on a percentage basis, Canadians buy more fully optioned luxury cars than any other market in the world.
Now, the bad news is the Competition version of M5 isn’t any more powerful than it was last year. The good news is it really doesn’t matter, since the top-flight version of BMW’s “hot vee” twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 pumps out a supercar-challenging 617 horsepower.
That means this four-door Bimmer, large enough to comfortably transport four to the local curling club, can also accelerate like a Lamborghini, taking but 3.3 seconds to power to 100 kilometres an hour from a standstill.
The stock M5’s top speed, 250 km/h, sounds a little disappointing until you realize that’s electronically governed. Opt for the M Driver’s package – and, yes, you have to pay extra to get the electronic governor removed – and there’s 305 km/h to be had. If you live in Ontario, that means you can double the province’s “stunting” limit in a semi-practical sedan.
And, lending credence to this implication that the M5 is super enough to be taken on piste, the Competition has a special, variable-output oil pump specially baffled so the incredible cornering forces it is capable of don’t starve the engine for oil.
That track worthiness is highlighted by the TRACK mode, which deactivates all the comfort and safety driver assistance functions. BMW calls it the “ultra-pure distillation of M feeling,” and not only does the instrument cluster switch to M View and the Head-Up Display dispense with driver assistance system warnings, it also suppresses the emergency braking system’s warning lights as well the collision warning system. Yes, if you’re rich enough to make like Ricky Bobby and play high-speed bumper cars on the track, the M5 Competition will let you.
Of course, even though the new M5 drives all four wheels, you do have a 2WD mode for that pure rear-driver feeling. As well, the Competition’s dampers are stiffer than the regular M5, though they are configurable for Comfort, Sport and Sport+. And lastly, the Competition version rides seven millimetres lower than the standard version we’re not getting; fun for the racetrack, possibly a problem over the moonscapes that pass for Canadian roads.
As for day-to-day driving, there’s a new digital cloud-based feature called BMW Maps that promises faster route calculations and “dynamic recalculation based on precise real-time traffic data.” On an even more pedestrian front, the optional Parking Assistant Plus – which now includes a panorama view and 3D surround camera views – will identify both parallel and perpendicular parking spots suitable for your super 5.
One last thing — Driving doesn’t usually comment on paint colours, the choice of hues always an intensely personal decision. But there are five new paint finishes for 2021 and one of them – Motegi Red – is spectacular, and takes BMW’s big sedan from don’t-look-at-me introvert to poke-me-in-the-eye extrovert. It is quite fetching.
The 2021 BMW M5 Competition will be in Canadian dealerships by August and will start at $121,000
Driving.CA – David Booth