Despite being challenging, 2021 was a good year for us in terms of test drives. We picked up the slack from the previous year and tested an impressive number of cars: sixty (60). Of course, majority of them were BMW Group models. There were some other brands we managed to review, so it’s fair to say that 2021 has been a busy year for us. As we head into the new year, we wanted to look back and pick our favorite BMW cars we drove in 2021. Next year is shaping up to be equally exciting for us, but as it is the norm today, lots of things can change in a split of a second.

Nico — BMW M5 CS

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To be honest, 2021 wasn’t my biggest car year. Due to the lingering effects of Covid, I didn’t go on any press launches and loaner cars weren’t as frequent. Most of my test drives were BMWs, though there were a few Audis, Genesis, and Lexus models sprinkled in. Some of which were genuinely great cars, such as the BMW M3 Competition, Audi RS7 Sportback, Audi RS Q8, and Genesis GV70. However, there can only be one and it was an easy choice — the BMW M5 CS.

Nothing came close, this past year, to offering the level of fun and excitement as the M5 CS. It’s an absolutely brilliant car, one that could be BMW’s best in decades. Not only is it brutally fast — ripping of a 2.8 second 0-60 mph time and a sub-eleven second quarter-mile on a rough, dusty runway — but it’s sensational to drive. The M5 CS offers steering feel, chassis balance, and body control like no other BMW I can remember in recent years.

Then there’s the interior. Carbon fiber bucket seats from the M3 and M4 make the front passengers feel like they’re in a race car, despite being in a big, four-door sedan. Even more interesting, though, is the back seat, which replaces the typical rear bench with two more bucket seats, so the rear passengers don’t miss out on that racecar feel.

If I could choose just one BMW to own from the modern era, I wouldn’t even blink: it’d be the BMW M5 CS.

Horatiu — BMW iX

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There is no secret that I’ve been a fan of electric cars for many years. As a fun tidbit, I’m actually on my fourth BMW i3 and it still brings me joy as it did in 2014. So naturally, I was quite excited to finally see some new BMW products with an electric drivetrain. After driving an i4 prototype and then the production car, I was fortunate enough to jump behind the wheel of the new flagship BMW EV: The iX.

The bespoke electric crossover has been in works since 2015 and it is now finally ready to tackle a very competitive segment. Being built on a unique architecture, the BMW iX makes full use of the package by providing not only a smart and practical interior, but also a quite spacious one. The ride is also atypical of a BMW car with a focus on comfort rather than driving dynamics. Yet, it still delivers tons of performance – 516 hp – and a 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds. The electric range is equally important in the iX, so BMW managed to squeeze out 300 miles (EPA rating) from a 105 kWh battery hidden in the floor of the car.

The BMW iX might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and sure, some might still complain about its range, but it is a fantastic product, smartly designed and worthy of the BMW badge.

Gabriel — BMW M3 Competition and iX

As time goes by and technology evolves, it’s getting obvious that electric cars are going to take over in the next 10 to 15 years. We’re already seeing a lot of effort being put into the EV segment and that also reflected my experience this year. Out of the 120 cars I drove this year, almost half were electrified in one way or another. That’s also why the BMW iX is one of the best cars I drove this year with a blue and white roundel on the hood.

The reason why it’s one of my top two is rather simple: it has one of the best suspension setups of all the electric vehicles I had the pleasure of testing out. It’s nimble, smooth, quiet and incredibly comfortable. Sure, the one I tested was an iX xDrive50 model with the optional air suspension tacked on, but it’s quite an eye-opening experience. The iX might have some faults, from the range to the design (for some people) but when it comes to refinement, few electric cars can reach its level.

As for the other car, it would definitely be the M3 Competition (RWD). Why? Pretty simple, actually, it shows that the M engineers still have a place in our very complicated world. This car, in rear-wheel drive guise, is both a beast on the track and a comfortable cruiser whenever you need it to be. The dual character that has been defining M cars for the past 50 years is still there and that’s marvelous in my book. Unlike the BMW iX, the M3 Competition does everything close to perfection and if you can look past its design, you’ll find a rewarding driving experience that might just surprise you.