Monday, October 18, 2021
Reviews 2021 BMW M5 Competition Review: Little Monster

2021 BMW M5 Competition Review: Little Monster

2021 BMW M5 Pros

  • Incredible sound
  • Remarkable performance
  • Luxurious interior
  • Did we mention the sound?

2021 BMW M5 Cons

  • Harsher ride than its rivals
  • Getting up there in age

There is no question BMW M models have become more refined, more comfortable and perhaps even a little softer in recent years, but floor the right pedal at the wrong time and you’ll quickly realize they still have quite a bit of bite to them. The 2021 BMW M5 didn’t escape the shift towards a more user-friendly experience, but boy can it still scare the living daylights out of an unsuspecting driver… In a good way.

The BMW M5 has been tweaked for 2021 with a new kidney grille design, new LED headlights and taillights, a new bumper upfront and a redesigned rear portion. Inside, the M5 gets a larger 12.3-inch centre display, exceptionally well-bolstered seats, and unique touches like the red M buttons on the thick steering wheel. These can be customized to call up specific settings for the suspension, engine, transmission, and steering at the touch of a button.

In its own little world

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

All of the elements remind you that the M5 is a special 5 Series and worlds apart from even the BMW M550i, already a very powerful sedan in its own right. The M5, however, is one of the quickest, loudest, most aggressive cars money can buy. The M5 Competition introduced last summer is all that and more. Powering the monster is a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that delivers 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque which rockets the M5 Competition to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds.

Press the big red start button and the engine fires up with a distinct and very loud growl. Having driven the same engine a few weeks later in the BMW X6 M Competition, I can confirm that the M5 Competition has been tuned to be much more aggressive and a lot louder, at least upon startup and under hard acceleration. It isn’t overbearing, however, and the engine noise kind of fades away in city or highway driving.

Calling the 2021 BMW M5 Competition comfortable would be exaggerating. When you give a car the tools to handle over 600 horsepower in a sharp turn, some sacrifices must be made. The Mercedes-AMG E 63 4Matic is comfier, and so are the Audi RS6 Avant and Porsche Panamera GTS/Turbo. If you aren’t planning on using all the power your M5 Competition can deliver, you may find the ride too harsh and the seats a little tight. On the other hand, none of the cars listed above can match the BMW when it comes to raw handling and dynamic when driven at speed. That’s not to say they aren’t competent; they just don’t have the M5’s edge.

The Competition moniker brings with it even stiffer springs over the “base” M5 and the adaptive springs are tuned for better reactions. The M5 Competition is a heavy car with its 4,262-curb weight, but you quickly forget all that in a tight turn. The steering wheel is perfectly weighted and feels absolutely fantastic in your hands and putting the M5 Competition where it needs to be before, during, and after a turn is a lot easier than it should be. It isn’t anywhere close to an M2 or new M3/M4, of course, but in its class the M5 Competition is the handling king.

Daily driving the 2021 BMW M5 Competition

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

As stated previously, the M5 Competition will require an open mind when it comes to comfort, especially if you live in a area where the roads need work. It’s also louder than an E63, Panamera or RS6 Avant and the interior feels more cramped than the Mercedes-AMG or Audi.

BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system means you can drive your BMW M5 365 days a year, but it won’t provide the same level of winter confidence as Audi’s Quattro or Merc’s 4Matic when set to the performance-oriented settings of the M5. The front seats will keep you place in any turn, but they are also tight and do become a bit cumbersome after a few hours on the road.

On the other hand, this is an expensive luxury sedan and as such comes with the type of features you expect and want like the “Hey BMW” voice assistance and BMW’s gesture control system (you can adjust various settings by moving your hands in different ways). The interior is simply stunning, and the Silverstone seats are a cut above anything else you find elsewhere. The space in the back was fine for our toddler’s seat and trunk space is generous.

The thing about the BMW M5 Competition that you don’t really find in its rivals (with the exception of the Audi RS6 Avant) is that it feels like a very special and very different car from its brothers. The E 63 doesn’t feel as different from an E 53 and the only way you know what version of the Panamera you are driving is to check the back or floor the accelerator.

The 2021 BMW M5 Competition feels like an entirely different car from the 5 Series and for all my complaints about comfort, I still enjoyed every second of my 4+ hours spent on the highway. There isn’t a better midsize performance sedan to take to the track or listen to when pushing to the redline.

The industry is changing and this M5 may very well be the last of its kind. The next one will likely be fully electric which means even quicker accelerations, but we will lose the engine sound and that raw feeling that every enthusiast loves. If the M5 is truly on the way out, it couldn’t have gone out with more of a bang and if you are in the market for the baddest sedan you can find, the M5 Competition should be your first test drive.

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 BMW M5 Competition | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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