2021 BMW M5 Competition new car reviews

Photography by Tim Suddard

Sure, the $7600 Competition Package only improves the BMW's 0-60 sprint by 0.1 seconds over the "standard" M5, but there's more to this equation than just straight-line speed.

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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard

We have either driven or owned just about every BMW, from the Isetta to the car company’s latest offerings. Bottom line, we take driving BMWs very seriously and consider ourselves super fans of the marque.

Last summer we spent a week on fast back roads with the new M4, and while we respected the performance, we couldn’t get past the hideous front end and the rough–we mean seriously rough–ride combined with the uncomfortable carbon fiber sport/race seats.

Based on that drive, we concluded that BMW might have lost its way and ruined the M3 (and by extension, the M4) a car we had owned several generations of. Much sadness ensued.

This past week, however, our faith in BMW was renewed in spades.

We were granted a journey of over 1000 miles, comprised of California's State Route 1 and other local twisty back roads, to experience the new BMW M5 Competition. While at nearly $140,000, you won’t find this masterpiece of automotive design and execution in the bargain bin any time soon, but if you have the means, we can confirm they definitely do justify the ends.

Even though we don’t usually dig metallic greens, the Verde Ermes Pearl Metallic paint, a no-cost option, is truly stunning. Never before have we received so many comments and questions as to what color this car was. It truly turned the already nicely styled 5 Series into a true showstopper.

Unlike the M3 and M4, the overall styling of the BMW is subdued (like a BMW M car should be!). Gone is the garish and polarizing front grille, replaced with a subtle Carbon fiber roof, splitter and rear spoiler that all accentuate the stunning, yet reserved, visual package.

Inside, you find comfortable sports seats covered in leather, a logical dash layout and easy-to-reach controls. Rear occupants are cosseted with many of the same features found upfront.

Other than the annoying shifter that took us a few minutes to figure out, getting rolling in the M5 Competition is pretty straightforward. Gauges are easy to read and the rowdier M5 Sport exhaust mode–part of the Competition package–causes the M5 Competition to come to life with more than a bit of ferocity.

Overall, the $7600 Competition package turns the M5 into an almost entirely different animal compared to the $103,500 base model. In addition to 17 more horsepower, the package also adds 20-inch M Style wheels, M Shadowline lighting, Color-coded M seat belts, a 2-inch lower ride height, stiffer engine mounts and road springs, plus a bit more negative camber and a few other suspension tweaks.

Our test car came with various packages, some of which we could have done without, like the $1700 Driving Assistance Plus package and the $3350 Executive package that add a couple of non-essential driving aides and massaging and heated front seats, heated rear seats, parking assistance and a few other features we might leave off.

On the other hand, we appreciated the $8500 M carbon-ceramic brakes, $3400 Bower & Wilkins sound system and the $2500 M Driver’s Package. In fact, the M Driver’s package is rather unique in that it includes a single-day course at one of BMW’s Performance Centers. While we are not sure how fast you really need to go, we have been through multiple of these courses at the BMW Performance Centers, and we’d say that they are plenty of fun.

Of course, while the carbon-ceramic brakes are lighter than the stock units and wear well (up to 100,000 miles), plan on spending upwards of $20,000 when you do need to replace them.

On top of all of that, a $995 destination charge and $1000 gas guzzler tax brought our final price tag to $137,545.

Admittedly, this is rather rarified price territory, and while the average M5 lessee or buyer most likely won’t quibble on price, you could easily knock this price down by 20-30% by leaving off a few of the options that our test car was equipped with.

Out on the road, the performance of the M5 Competition is undeniable. With over 600 horsepower, acceleration is mind-blowing: 0-60 mph comes up in less than four seconds.

Moving this roughly 4200-pound sedan that quickly takes effort, something the 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 has more than enough of. Coupled with a lightning-fast, 8-speed M Steptronic with Drivelaunch and Logic Control–available whether you leave it in drive or shift with the paddles–this transmission makes things happen smoothly and virtually instantanious.

The M5 Competition is so fast, in fact, that we could go from 50 to nearly 100 miles per hour in just a micro-second, useful for passing just about anything and everything in our way.

Despite the weight, the car is surprisingly light on its feet, and even after a few hundred miles on California’s insanely curvy coast highway, we couldn’t put a foot wrong. No matter how hard we pushed, in M Mode or even in milder Sport mode, we could not unsettle this fantastic chassis.

Sadly, a car with this much capability needs to be used with great restraint, and, as confidence grew, that restraint became harder and harder to recall. And, unless that aggression is moved to a racetrack, you could quickly find yourself in jail.

So, is the M5 Competition perfect? Close, but not quite. Even with tech-savvy pilots, the complexity and full abilities of this car would take months or even years to figure out. Even though the systems are a bit more intuitive than some recent Mercedes-Benzes we have driven, the electronics are still complicated and a bit quirky. For instance, the radio seemed to have a will of its own and turned on and off on its own.

As mentioned earlier, the shifter is more complicated and less intuitive than it needs to be, and we would almost pay more to make the car a bit less complicated. The whole gimmick of just waving your hand in front of the screen to make things happen is kind of ridiculous and unnecessary.

Still, the 2022 BMW M5 Competition rivals cars like the AMG E63 and virtually any supercar produced today.

Ultimately, is it all worth it? In our opinion, if you want a stunningly beautiful, yet somewhat subdued car that offers insane, otherworldly performance with top-notch comfort and ride quality, then the answer is yes.

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View comments on the GRM forums
CyberEric Dork
5/20/22 6:07 p.m.

Nice to hear something nice about BMW these days. I think this is the first positive review of an M car that I've read in ten years.

Thanks for not making putting that giant kidney grill on this car, BMW.

20k for brakes?! My eyes nearly popped out. Where's the white guy blinking meme when you need it. 

fatallightning Reader
5/23/22 9:47 a.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

People seemed to have liked the M2 as well. And that's about it lol.

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