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.
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.
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