On the heels of announcing a freshened 5 Series for 2021, BMW unveiled the chieftain of its mid-size sedan lineup in the also-updated 2021 M5. The current-generation 5 Series, you may recall, dates back to the 2017 model year, with the M5 arriving for 2018. That’s the sort of vintage that makes 2021 ripe for substantial updates. And the M5, available in regular or Competition grades, will get them when it hits dealers in August 2020.
Like the refreshed 5 Series upon which it’s based, the M5 gets a slightly taller kidney grille — albeit less imposing than the oversized units on the 7 Series or the Toucan-Sam’d 4 Series. Its headlights no longer carry inboard indentations, and the outboard bumper openings below them are a bit taller now. Changes in back are harder to spot: The taillights have a revised L-shape design, but they’re the same overall shape, as are the bumper’s air diffusers and quad tailpipes.
Powertrain and 0-60 Speed
Performance equipment and numbers carry over, with the M5’s turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 making the same 600 horsepower (617 hp in the M5 Competition) and 553 pounds-feet of torque. Sixty mph comes in a manufacturer-estimated 3.2 seconds (3.1 seconds in the Competition), identical to BMW’s estimates for the 2020 M5. Power hits the road through rear-biased all-wheel drive, with an active rear differential splitting torque between the left and right rear wheels.
Drivers can choose between various settings for AWD power distribution and stability-system intervention, with (like before) a mode that sends power only to the rear wheels. The M5’s eight-speed automatic transmission has three driver-selectable modes, as well. Like on the M8, a single M mode button replaces settings for individual systems; it has various road and sport modes, plus a Track mode on the M5 Competition.
The suspension retains its double-wishbone front and multilink rear architecture, with Competition models sitting 0.2 inch lower. Adaptive shock absorbers and six-piston front brake calipers are standard; carbon ceramic discs are optional. Competition models have more aggressive hardware, including 10% firmer springs, unique rear stabilizer bars and firmer engine mounts. In a nod toward improved livability for 2021, BMW says they also get new shocks and recalibrated control systems to improve comfort on highways and bumpy roads.
Inside, the biggest change — again, similar to the regular 5 Series — is an upsized dashboard touchscreen, now 12.3 inches versus the prior 10.25 inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both wireless, are standard. (The outgoing 5 Series offered wireless CarPlay but no Android Auto of any kind.) Other additions for 2021 include cloud-based navigation and BMW’s Extended Traffic Jam Assist, one of just two hands-free steering systems on the U.S. market as of this writing. (The other is Cadillac’s Super Cruise.) BMW offered ETJA on half a dozen models for 2020, but not the 5 Series; that changes for 2021.
Pricing starts at $104,495 for the M5 and $112,095 for the M5 Competition (both including a strangely affordable $995 destination charge), up $800 and $1,100, respectively, versus the 2020 M5 and M5 Competition.
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