HomeThe MarketBMW builds the 4-door sedan that beats the supercars

BMW builds the 4-door sedan that beats the supercars

M5 Competition is quicker to 60 mph, and has room for friends and luggage


Supercars such as the Ferrari 812 Superfast and the Lamborghini Huracan are amazing cars capable of extreme levels of performance. This has made them some of the most desirable cars in the world with prices that reflect that level of desirability, average prices north of $325,000 — and often in excess of $400,000. 

However, such cars do have downsides as ownership costs for such thing as service and insurance cost many times more than for other cars. In addition, such cars cannot be considered practical by the furthest stretch of the word. They have two seats and minuscule space for luggage. 

Ah, but consider the 2021 BMW M5 Competition. This amazing vehicle makes the argument for buying any supercar a lot more difficult as it equals or betters much of the performance and does this so with in the guise of a full-size four-door sedan.

Before all of you think that statement is crazy, look at the numbers. The Lamborghini and the Ferrari have 0-60 times of 2.8 seconds. For the quarter-mile, the 812 Superfast completes it in 10.5 seconds and the Huracan in 10.3. The 2021 BMW M5 Competition goes from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds, quicker than the Lamborghini and the Ferrari, and covers the ¼ mile in 10.9 seconds. Yes, it’s slightly slower to that distance, but don’t forget, it has four doors, comfortable seating for passengers, and a trunk.

This M5 Competition is the quickest sports sedan I have ever driven, and  the quickest car I have driven except for the Porsche 918. The fact that a sedan delivers its levels of performance is a mind-bending experience when experienced from behind the wheel. 

Simply put, the 2021 M5 Competition is the most intoxicating car I have driven in my life. 

BMW M5 Competition

And here’s perhaps the best part: Not only are service costs lower than an exotic supercar, and can be done at any local BMW dealership, but the price as tested of the one I drove was $137,545, about half or less than you’d pay for a so-called supercar. 

I took the M5 Competition from my home in Connecticut to western Pennsylvania for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Over the 475-mile each-way trip to Pittsburgh I get to know the M5 quite well and over the week I had the car I got to see how it worked in various conditions, doing everything such as taking it shopping trip, driving it on my favorite sports car roads in Connecticut, to high speed interstate driving. The  M5 took whatever I could throw at it in stride. 

Need to load it full of groceries? No problem. Need to take four people to dinner in comfort? Check. Want to exercise the car on a highly technical road at high speeds. Easy peasy?  Want to do a track day? No problem. How about a high-speed interstate run? Sure. Whatever I asked this car to do it did well and made the transition from elegant sedan to road burner without hesitation.

There is a slight problem though. This car is simply stupid fast and, like a drug addict, when driving this M5 the car seems to always want more. 

The M5 Competition tempts you with its performance

To illustrate this, let’s talk about a movie. In the 1980s there was a movie titled Something Wild starring Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith. Daniels plays an uptight yuppie lawyer named Charles who, through a turn of seemingly random events, ends up meeting and traveling with an alternative/punk woman named Lulu, played by Griffith. They end up being involved in a convenience store robbery, get beat up by her ex, and it basically turns his life upside down. 

The 2021 M5 Competition is Lulu in that film. If there is the slightest opening in traffic to pass, it somehow begs you to take it. On an empty stretch of interstate, the M5 whispers in your ear, “You know how fast I can go? You should find out. It’ll be fun to double or triple the speed limit. What could go wrong?” 

Even after that the car seems to say, “Is that all you’ve got?” The car is that intoxicating and addictive and just begs you to drive it like you stole it at all times. 

This is because the engine and chassis combination of this M5 are just that good. The stated 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, more about that in a bit, combine with the best all-wheel drive chassis I’ve driven, to make the car feel as light and capable as the best sports cars on the planet. 

When accelerating out of an apex, the car hunkers down and digs in more aggressively than any car I can remember driving, and does it in a way that the car never feels unsettled.

Another surprising thing to me was just how comfortable the M5 Competition is in day-to-day traffic. In normal drive mode it is the perfect commuter vehicle, handling the poor northeastern roads without an issue, and while firm is never in any way jarring. Considering the cornering ability of this car at the limit, this is no mean feat.

So how did this car get built? My theory is that the engineering boffins at the BMW M group got a bit bored during over the Covid quarantine and decided to build what is truly a 4-door supercar. Hans says to Fritz over lunch, “I bet you we can build a sedan that can go as fast as a new Ferrari.” Fritz says, “Well, we have nothing else to do in 2020 so why not?” 

And now back to those horsepower and torque numbers. BMW claims 617 for horsepower and 553 pound-feet for torque at the crank. I’m not buying it and Hans and Fritz had to be smiling when they gave those numbers. Car and Driver put one on the dyno and saw 617 horsepower and 606 pound-feet of torque, but not at the crank — at the wheels. 

Just to throw some more numbers at you, the M5 Competition when tested by Car and Driver did 0-100 in 6.7 seconds, 0-130 in 11.4, and 0-150 in a staggering 16 seconds flat. I will personally back all of these numbers after driving the car. Top speed is limited electronically to 190 mph.

The brakes are equal to the power with huge carbon ceramic discs capable of stopping from 70 mph in 139 feet. During city driving, these pizza-sized rotors take a gentle touch to be smooth, but after learning how they work daily driving with them is easy and braking at the limit is like an IMSA race car. They are very progressive but the potential stopping force is something that takes a bit of getting used to. 

I feel is the finest M5 ever to roll off the assembly line. I know all you E39 fans hate that statement and are saying to yourself that it’s too heavy, has all-wheel drive, an artificial engine soundtrack, and has tons of driver aids that take away from the driving experience. I

In the case of the 2021 M5 Competition those driver aids add to the driving experience and this is both an engaging and involving driving experience that has never been equaled in any M5 ever. This car is back to the heart of the entire idea of BMW M cars and is quite simply the most amazing car of any type I have ever driven or reviewed.

That said, let’s go back to the beginning of the story. Simply put, I feel that the M5 is such an amazing cars that it tends to make supercars seem almost irrelevant. If BMW can deliver the levels of performance with the M5 Competition and still have four doors and a trunk, who will want a supercar at more than twice the price and only a small fraction of the comfort and convenience, and likely 10 times the operating costs?

I know which car I would pick. 

Sadly, the car goes back to BMW today. Or does it? 

Last night I sent a text message to my Tom Plucinsky, head of product communications at BMW of North America. It read: “The BMW M5 and I are somehow in Mexico. We don’t know how we got here or when we’ll be back. The M5 said to tell you buenos dias.”

Driven: 2021 BMW M5 Competition

Vehicle type: 4-passenger sedan, all-wheel drive

Base price: $103,500 Price as tested: $137,545

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.4 liter V8, 617 hp @ 6000 rpm, 

553 lb-ft of torque @ 1800 RPM. Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 117.4 inches Overall length/width: 196.4 inches / 74.9 inches

Curb weight: 4,237 pounds

EPA mileage estimates: 15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined

Assembled in: Germany

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


  1. Wow. Time to go back to work and dip into the 401K. I think my wife’s ’13 535i is about the best sport sedan I’ve ever driven but this sounds intoxicating, and only twice what we paid. Sadly, I just bought a new SUV so a bargain supercar is probably not in the new future. I also assume they’re impossible to get right now unless the engineers were able to work around the chip shortage.

    Enjoy Mexico 🙂

  2. Thanks for reading Vic. The car is just amazing. I get it with the ’13 535i as well. I have at this point driven every generation of the M5 from the original E28 car to this one and this is simply the best M5 and the best sports sedan ever built.

    Mexico is great though I need to get some more sunscreen. 🙂


    • I finally made that dream a reality when I bought a first edition F90 M5, and I still gifting ear to ear every time I drop the hammer on an open road. I have 2 son’s and they are just as intoxicated by the way the car drives as I am, they laugh and ask me to go “fast motion” at every green light. Love the way you write about the emotion this car can invoke. I laugh when I see negative comments, they clearly don’t know cars or just like to be negative because anyone who gets a chance to drive will be left speechless

  3. OK very nice ‘sensible’ car but where are you going to use all this power. All roads, highways have a speed limit so BMW can zoom in and out of traffic putting other peoples life in danger.

  4. I just drove one of these at COTA during an M Performance track day. I can’t stop thinking about it. As it was raining some and the track was wet, probably the most impressive feature was the carbon ceramic brakes. I am now considering doing the track day at Laguna Seca in November I think. I can’t afford the car but I can afford a plane ticket.

  5. Hi Andy, as a man who sold his Ferrari F430 (in Stuttgart) to the BMW Dealership…..oh they really enjoyed that, and then had them build me a 2015 M5 with competition go fast bits and ceramics…I am really enjoying it now here back in the States. OK, I have a bit more of a covertly sedate bespoke M5 with just rear wheel drive than the current super model, but I do consider it my next and finest supercar. The M5 lives in a stable with another E46 (one of the first ones imported into the States back in 2000), and MGB and the Bertone X 1/9 you were kind enough to detail in your April tax day column. Thanks for doing what you do, I enjoy your work. Joe

  6. A friend of mine paid cash for a brand new 2017 BMW 540i he ordered fully optioned at Nero $87000. After two years being unable to figure out how the car was losing coolant and with only 6800 miles on the car BMW bought the car back for $85,000 with just the threat of filing a CA Lemon Law claim! New BMW’s look awesome and hold together long enough for media test drives but NO THANKS! I’m plenty happy with my super reliable 2005 e46 330xi 👍🏽

    • Well Joe I would beg to differ. The M5 Comp has better seats, better interior, better controls, better dash layout, better build quality, more fun to drive, better looking, more engaging driving dynamics. Oh and better sound to be sure.

      Yes the Plaid is a fast car but the interior looks like someone raided a Best Buy for the controls, has a square steering wheel that is just weird to hold, has sub-par materials in the interior, and the build quality is not near the same quality.

      I have driven it and that’s my take. No I do not hate electric cars but the Lucent Air is a better car in the segment hands down. The Plaid feels pretty cheap when compared to the M5.

  7. Honestly I have a 2015 m5 competition it takes me less than 2.7 second to hit 60 I bought it used with 56000kmiles I don’t know what the previous owner did all I can see is an A.W.E exhaust

  8. Why so many ” wow.. that’s a car”??? Maybe BMW is rediscovered the hot water or the wheel again ???
    What about Tesla Mode S Plaid with 122 K doll price BUT 1000 HP, LESS THAN 2 SEC AT 0-60 AND 9.4 SEC AT 1/4 MILE

    • tesla are hideous outside especiallythe suv thing, tacky inside with cheap material an oversized tablet for the computer needs and far more toxic for the environment (lithium) and extremely dangerous when they catch on fire during a crash and reignite! BMW 4 LIFE !!!

  9. I have driven this car, al be it a it 2 years ago. But this car doesn’t even touch in any way, the future of vehicles. It may be the final and best combustion engine made car. It may have more maintenance requirements than anything else on the market, it may be fun to drive but it’s day has long past. I read a car and drive review of 2022 model s plaid and they called it stale.

    The specs on this BMW are not even competitive. The design is just as old as the Tesla and the fit and finish of the New plaid matches BMW. I like this car but it has thousands of moving drive train parts. It is not reliable or news worthy. It really Mia stale and historically may be BMW’s last big block loud annoying pinnacle of combustion history. Buy it put it on blocks and maybe in twenty years you can show your grand kids what a great car once looked like.

    If you want a real car it will not have the word combustion in the owners manual.

    The model s plaid hold more groceries, handles as good or better with it’s true torque vectoring. It is a 5 seater and pulls over 1000 hp and over 1000 ft lbs of torque from 0-200 breaking the world record for quarter mile for a four door sedan.

    Tesla is the new ultimate driving, commuting and Tec loaded machine on earth. I charge it for free with solar panels and there is no scheduled maintenance, the battery goes 100k miles with less than 8% degradation. It has 390 miles of range. ( 220) I’d you hammer it. It is 2 seconds to 60 it does the 1/4 mile in 9.08 (may be slightly off) sec at 154 mph or so. Destroys everything BMW has ever built in production. It is so good that they did not even bring it up.
    The new Tesla plaid with no launch 5 people in the car and groceries is 2.2 sec to 60.
    I need not mention is is the most American vehicle made with most parts made in America and is safer than everything BMW has ever produced.
    BMW and Porsche were my go to cars 4 years ago. But they are so far behind it is sad.
    Range is not an issue either the plaid puts 180 miles in battery in 15 min. And charges from 0 to 35% fu at 900 miles per hour. l stop grab a drink and bathroom break and I’m good for 3 more hours.

    Ps when racing the plaid there is nearly no fade or over heating. It will go all day. Same speed at 30% as 90.

    Don’t believe me. Take a test drive. No road noise, s class ride quality and a true demonic destructive force to all cars in its class. ( really at this pint nearly all classes).
    It is not even supposed to beat mclaren p1 but it does, gt4 yup,hellcat yup. All the way up to regulated speed of 163 starting at any speed.
    The roadster is actually Tesla’s sports car and is ou end of next year. Nothing of any modifications of any combustion production vehicle wi touch it.
    Hate it love it, make up crap about it but before you jump back into the sand. Drive one. A new 2021 or 2022 plaid.
    Prepare to be astonished.

  10. I have driven an M5 but had an E30 M3 and E30 325ix at the same time. I had so much fun with the iX that I regrettably sold the M3. I have a copy for BMW, send me email and see if it will interest you.

  11. After buying 5 Corvette s in a row , a C3 thru a C7, MY BODY AND MY AGE , HAS ATTACKED me in a way that has been anything but pleasant. (Sorry about those all caps!) Anyway, it was time for me to get off of the ground after back talking stopped me from driving 2 of my cars for 2 full years! First I purchased a slightly used BMW M4, I kept for 13 months only but as it was a hard top convertible, obviously no real grocery space, nor could I hang a suit that I picked up from the cleaners. When I told my orthopedic dr I bought an M4, he said “Why didn’t you get an M5?” So I called my BMW salesman with
    do you have any M5’s? This was on Friday. He had 2, and one was a most excellent DREAM!! A 2020 Donnington Gray Metallic with a perfect interior. The interior is actually very similar to my C7 Corvette that I special ordered. (Kalahari is the color….Corvette name…..my son is coming to get it YOUTH!!) But this M5 is outstanding!!! Everyone loves the thing. The Corvette boys let me park it between them at car shows. Except for the 3 suv’s I have owned over the last 25 years, this car is the only car I have owned in FOREVER that I can put 4 adults in, has a great trunk. AND, I basically can outrun everything. Well, I had some trouble with the police helicopter!! Actually, I bought my first Vette in ’95. I love having the horsepower, but the street is not the place for it.

  12. You have the best job in the world. Borrow my ridiculous 600 hp m5 and write a piece about how awesome it is. Ultimate driving machine so true.

  13. My buddy that just bought a 2018 760LI M might not be very happy about this car… 4 fewer cylinders and what looks to be underrated at that? If I could afford a 6 figure ride, this would be it.

  14. “This M5 Competition is the quickest sports sedan I have ever driven, and the quickest car I have driven except for the Porsche 918”

    And then in the comments you mention you’ve driven the Plaid, but don’t like the interiors.

    Sure, you could opine that you prefer the M5 over the Plaid. And while you are entitled to your own opinion, no one is entitled to make their own facts.

    So if you have driven the Plaid, the M5 cannot be the quickest sports sedan you have ever driven.

    • You are correct I should have stated Sports Sedan powered by an internal combustion engine. Sorry about missing that point.

      The Plaid is a tech marvel but the lack of any integration of the interior tech just bugged me. They could have done way better with that. Also the interior materials of the plaid were a bit of a let down.

      That being said the Plaid is an absolute monster performance wise and an amazing automobile.

      • Agreed. When my buddy’s 2017 540i lemon was bought back by BMW he opted for the 2018 dual motor Tesla Model 3 … at $70k it too kicks the crap out of the M5 you reviewed performance wise! He loves his car but still misses the awesome interior of the 540i … btw I scoffed at his Model 3 purchase until I drove it! I humbly had to admit once I’m done with my 2005 330xi I will be going electric … should be fun shopping!

  15. Lol all these talking points also fit the plaid description, which would undoubtedly rip the doors off the M5 on a dragstrip or any race track. It has more space, technologically more advanced, and in the long run far cheaper to maintained. People that buy the 812 or Lambo don’t care about seating for 5, or how much luggage you can throw in. Someone who can afford an 812 damn well has the means to afford both, so they don’t need to be asked to reconsider what you could get for much cheaper. This take is very out of touch imo

    • KW I actually insure these kinds of cars and it is incorrect to assume that all the owners of modern supercars can afford both. That is a big generalization. I know many owners who just have that one special car as that is what they can afford. The point of the piece is that the M5 does so much of what a modern supercar does but does it with 4 doors and a trunk and combines that with a price of 1/2 to 1/3 of those cars and offers much lower service costs as well.

  16. If this car handles like the one I drove at a race track don’t need HP that could lead to trouble handling a curve road would be much safer car to drive!


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