Drag Race: 2021 BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Drag Race: 2021 BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

  • The results are obvious about everything, except which car has the better-looking wheels
  • A fun reversal of stereotypical American and German sports car roles
  • When it comes to acceleration, power-to-weight ratios rule all

Admittedly, a 2021 BMW M4 Competition facing a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 in a heads-up drag race is a lopsided pairing. The Mustang, which starts at $54,595 including destination, makes 480 horsepower from its 5.0-liter V8. The M4 Competition? 503 hp, courtesy of its twin-turbo six-cylinder.

Even equipped with the quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and wider, stickier tires that come with its available Handling package, the as-tested price for our 2021 Mustang Mach 1 test car is $65,340.

That's roughly $10,000 less than the M4 Competition's starting price of $75,695. And this BMW M4 came outfitted with all the available performance goodies, including carbon-ceramic brakes and bucket seats. The options bring its as-tested price to $101,995.

Why drag race these two? Because they are two extremely fun-to-drive rear-wheel-drive coupes and we have an open slot on our impromptu drag strip. Wouldn't you?

How do the M4 Competition and Mach 1 measure up at the test track?

When you compare the specs in this M4 vs. Mustang Mach 1 face-off, you find that not only is the M4 more powerful, it's lighter too. At 3,780 pounds on our scales, our M4 test car has a ratio of 7.5 pounds per hp (lower is better). The Mach 1 comes in at 8.1 pounds per hp due to its 3,907-pound weight. At our test track, this difference translates to a 0.4-second advantage in the M4's favor during a 0-60 mph run. The gap grows to 0.6 second by the time the two reach the quarter mile.

On the other hand, the Mustang's larger and sticker Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires help it produce superior braking and roadholding figures (the BMW M4 has Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires). While the Mach 1 may be slower in a straight line, we can still admire this reversal of traditional American and German sports car roles.

2021 BMW M4 Competition

Powertrain

  • Turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder (503 hp, 479 lb-ft of torque)
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive

Performance

  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds (3.5 seconds with 1-foot rollout)
  • Quarter mile: 11.6 seconds @ 122.7 mph
  • 60-0 mph braking: 106 feet
  • Skidpad: 1.06 g

2020 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Powertrain

  • 5.0-liter V8 (480 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque)
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive

Performance

  • 0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds (3.8 seconds with 1-foot rollout)
  • Quarter mile: 12.2 seconds @ 113.8 mph
  • 60-0 mph braking: 94 feet
  • Skidpad: 1.10 g

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

In a Mach 1 vs. M4 drag race, the BMW wins. Handily. While setting up its launch control takes more steps than we would prefer, we can't argue with its effectiveness. Run after run, the M4 demonstrates its power-to-weight advantage over the Mustang by pulling farther and farther ahead.

Not only is the Mustang Mach 1 less powerful, it has a notably less sophisticated launch control system: its driver. A drive mode setting intended for drag strips makes the transmission shift more quickly and adjusts the suspension to help the car squat on its rear tires during a launch, giving them more traction. But even when everything goes right, the Mustang still loses.

The gap is closer during a roll race, where both cars begin accelerating while already moving at 30 mph or so. The Mustang Mach 1 gets a quick jump at the start, but the turbos on the M4's engine need a beat before they start delivering power. But once underway, the M4 keeps pulling ahead of the Mustang.

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Edmunds says

The more powerful and lighter BMW is quicker in a straight line than the less powerful and heavier Ford. But when it comes to which car has the cooler-looking wheels, it's a dead heat.

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1

BMW M4 vs. 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1


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