Even as SUVs reign supreme in the market, the sport sedan has a loyal following. Big power, capable suspension, and enough space for a family—or at least a few friends—defines the category. The BMW M5 has long been a titan in this space, and for 2021 the refreshed super-sedan gets a few useful upgrades to keep it up to date, as well as revised front and rear styling.
On the performance side, the M5 keeps its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, making the same 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and the Competition also carries over its 617-hp and 553-lb-ft version of this engine. The brakes remain the same, too—vented M Compound stoppers for the M5 and carbon-ceramics with gold-painted calipers for the Competition—but standard M5 buyers can now elect for gloss black or red finish for the calipers.
The Competition, however gets a few suspension tweaks for 2021, including new shocks and a revised damper control tuning. BMW claims the revised damper control on the Competition trim will give a more comfortable ride at highway speeds. Additionally, both M5 models now get the M8’s M mode button, which consolidates engine, chassis, suspension, steering, and all-wheel drive settings to one button, saving drivers from messing with individual calibrations while trying to, well, drive. The M mode has a Default Road mode on which all driver assist systems are active, while the Sport mode allows the driver to disable certain systems and view the instrument cluster/head-up display with additional performance information. New for the 2021 M5 Competition is a new “Track” M mode, meant for closed courses, which defeats all driver assistance systems and deactivates the audio and center-screen displays to minimize distractions.
Performance-focused as it is, the 5 Series is still a luxury car, so the 2021 model year will receive a few improvements to keep its passengers feeling up to date. A 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment, upgraded from 10.25 inches, is perched on the center stack and loaded with cloud-based navigation and Apple CarPlay, but a welcome addition for non-Apple users is Android Auto.
In a category with the Audi RS 6 and Mercedes-AMG E 63, it takes a lot to claim the top spot as the ultimate sport sedan, but the M5 still makes a compelling case after all these years. Yes, $104,495 for the M5 and $112,095 for the Competition is tough to swallow, but there are few other cars with four doors that can hit 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, devour corners, and cruise the highway in comfort.