There are a handful of vehicles that truly define a brand. Ask most folks what model that would be for BMW and they’d likely say the iconic 3-Series. But one could make a forceful argument that the real answer is the BMW 5-Series which finds the sweet spot between the boy racer 3- and high-line 7-Series models.
Parsing things a bit more, it’s the M5 that truly shows off the incredible capabilities of the Bavarian automaker’s engineering team. So, there are likely to be some very excited aficionados once they see what’s coming in the way of the 2021 BMW M5 update.
While this is a “mid-cycle refresh,” to use industry parlance, the 2021 M5 has plenty going for it.
Among the most notable changes:
- New styling, front and rear;
- Increased power and a wee bit wider torque curve;
- New Track Mode for the M5 Competition model;
- Upgraded shocks and a modified damping system for that Competition model;
- A larger touchscreen and new, wireless Android Auto compatibility; and
- A variety of new paint colors.
When it comes to an M edition, you talk about what’s under the hood first. In this case, the “base” edition of the M5 is powered by the S63 TwinPower turbocharged V-8 making 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That’ll get you to 60 in just 3.2 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph.
Opt for the M5 Competition and you jump to 617 hp. While torque holds at 553 lb-ft, the torque curve stretches out, full power deliver from 1,800 to 5,860 RPMs. Your 0-60 times drop to 3.1 seconds. As with the regular model, top speed is 155 mph. Both versions of the M5 bump that up to 190 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package.
Both versions feature twin turbos, cross-bank exhaust manifolds and water-to-air intercooling.
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Power is channeled through an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, with a Drivelogic mode selector that can be switched between “efficient,” “sport” or “track.” Both M5 models come with a rear-biased performance version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system to ensure power reaches the pavement.
In terms of suspension, the 2021 BMW M5 retains the performance model’s double-wishbone front and rear multilink suspension, with Dynamic Damper Control coming standard. The Competition edition’s damping system has been completely retuned for 2021. And it also gets new shocks.
The Competition edition sits 0.2 inches lower than the stock M5, and it “features increased front negative camber, a firmer rear anti-roll bar, 10% firmer front and rear springs and toe-link ball joint mounts,” BMW explains.
The M5 is shod with 19-inch 275/40R19 front and 285/40R19 rear performance non-run-flat tires, wrapped around M alloy bicolor wheels. The M5 Competition jumps to 20-inchers and forged M alloy wheels with 275/35R20 and 285/35R20 rear performance non-run-flat tires.
The sedan gets standard M Compound brakes with vented disks and blue, six-piston front calipers, though red and black are options. M Carbon Ceramic brakes are optional, and painted gold. They save 50 pounds and also improve thermal stability meaning they’re less likely to fade under track conditions.
Like other recent BMW models, the 2021 M5 can immediately be distinguished by its larger double-kidney grille. The front grille also gets new, larger air intakes. Slimmer LED lighting add a more aggressive touch to the front end, while the rear gets new M-specific quad exhaust pipes and new L-shaped taillights.
“The M5 Competition,” notes BMW, “comes with a black finish for the BMW kidney grille surround, the front fender side-gill mesh inserts, the exterior mirror caps, the rear trunk spoiler, name badges and rear bumper inserts. The tips of the Competition model’s M Sport exhaust system are finished in Black Chrome.”
Inside, the 2021 M5 now features twin 12.3-inch gauge and infotainment screens, the latter increased from 10.25 inches on the outgoing model. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now come standard. The M5 also adds the Alexa-like BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant which can use plain English commands for a variety of vehicle functions. Meanwhile, the navigation system now has cloud access for real-time updates of maps and traffic conditions.
Other updates include the new M Button, which replaces individual controls for engine, chassis, suspension, steering and xDrive, allowing all to be set with a single touch.
While a true driver’s car, the 2021 BMW M5 also offers an array of advanced driver assistance systems, including active cruise control with stop-and-go and the Level 2 semi-autonomous Extended Traffic Jam Assist.
The 2021 BMW M5 starts at $103,500, the Competition model at $111,100. Add to those numbers $995 in delivery fees. The sedan is expected to reach showrooms around the world in August.