BMW’s New M5 Is Just a Little Better, But There Wasn’t Much to Improve Anyway

We weren’t clamoring for changes, but BMW went and made some anyway.

The current version of the BMW M5 is hardly in screaming need of an update. Three years into its life, it’s still one of the top sport sedans — perhaps the top sport sedan — on the market, delivering a nearly-unbeatable combination of speed, luxury and joie de conduire. (It’s also the best fun car you can buy for a payment of $1,500 per month.)

Still, BMW isn’t the sort to rest on its roundels. So with the regular 5 Series lineup receiving a mid-life refresh for the 2021 model year, it was inevitable that the M5 would see its own updates — whether it really needed them or not.

Don’t worry, all the good stuff you love about the current M5 isn’t going anywhere. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo still lies under the hood, making 600 horsepower in the regular M5 and 617 in the M5 Competition (and 553 lb-ft of torque in both); it’s still connected to an eight-speed automatic, which in turn is connected to a BMW M-tuned all-wheel-drive system with available RWD drift mode.

The only real difference on the performance front comes to the M5 Comp, which picks up recalibrated dampers and new shock absorbers for a little more ride comfort on the highway and a new Track setting that turns off not just the driver assistance features but also the stereo and the center console display, in order to minimize distractions. (The drive mode controls have all been centralized away from individual buttons to a touchscreen menu, as well, à la the BMW M8.)

Inside, every new M5 benefits from a larger touchscreen infotainment display (bumped up to 12.3 inches from 10.3) that now offers wireless Android Auto in addition to (blessedly standard and free) wireless Apple CarPlay, as well as cloud-based navigation. There’s also some mild changes to the upholstery, including bi-color leather choices and Alcantara inserts for the M5 Competition.

The most notable changes are on the outside, where the 2021 BMW M5 scores the same mild design changes as the regular 2021 5er. The kidney grilles are larger (though thankfully not M4 large) and the headlights and taillights are thinner, with a revised front and rear fascia to further the differences between the newest M5 and its forbears. The brake calipers now offer a choice of glossy black or red paint, while three new paint colors — Tanzanite Blue II metallic, Aventurine Red II metallic and Frozen Bluestone metallic matte — join the lineup.

The best part? These improvements barely change the price. The 2021 BMW M5 starts at $103,500, while the 2021 M5 Competition starts at $111,100 — increases of $700 and $1,100 over the 2020 versions, respectively. The facelifted versions hit U.S. showrooms this August.

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