TESTED: BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

TESTED: BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

Two crushingly fast coupes, one winner

  • Two rear-drive coupes with quick-shifting transmissions both start around $75,000.
  • Edmunds put both supercoupes through their paces at the test track.
  • Do the test results match what happens in a heads-up drag race?

Believe it or not, the 2021 BMW M4 Competition starts out at about the same cost as a 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. So for approximately $75,000, you need to decide between the M4 and the GT500: the self-labeled Ultimate Driving Machine or the ultimate Mustang.

Of course, the differences are stark, even if both cars are rear-wheel-drive two-door coupes with automatic transmissions. For one, the M4 offers a stout 503 horsepower in Competition guise. The GT500? 760 hp. Also, saddled with a host of carbon-fiber upgrades and carbon-ceramic brakes, this M4 Competition totals $101,995, while this 2020 GT500, which Edmunds actually owns and is testing out for a year, set us back $81,280 after options.

Why pay more for less power? We decided to find out at the test track and with a heads-up M4 vs. GT500 drag race.

How do the GT500 and M4 Competition measure up at the test track?

Despite carrying around more than a few more pounds, the Shelby GT500 is the winner at the test track. With all the time in the world to get the perfect launch, our test team was able to extract stellar acceleration results. Though both cars use the same brand and model of tire (Michelin Pilot Sport 4S), the Mustang is able to push them harder, generating slightly stronger stopping results and more grip around our 200-foot skidpad.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Powertrain

  • Supercharged 5.2-liter V8 (760 hp, 625 lb-ft of torque)
  • Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive

Performance

  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds (3.4 seconds with 1-foot rollout)
  • Quarter mile: 11.3 seconds @ 129.9 mph
  • 60-0 mph braking: 103 feet
  • Skidpad: 1.02 g

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
BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

What happens during a drag race?

Oh, how things change in the real world. As previously documented with other drag races we've done with our Shelby GT500, its performance advantage disappears when faced with the imperfectness of a street surface and the pressure of a countdown.

Its overwhelmed launch control just can't manage the flow of 760 hp through two rear wheels, so launching the GT500 becomes a test of patience and judicial use of the gas pedal. Get it right, and surely the Shelby GT500 would win. The problem is the difficulty of getting it right — the theoretical versus practical, and all that.

The only challenge that comes with getting the best acceleration from the M4 is deciphering the launch control process. Though more streamlined than it was in previous BMW M vehicles, it still seems more complicated than it should be. On the other hand, the launch control is consistent run after run, making it easy to get the Mustang GT500 showing in the rearview mirror. BMW takes the win in the GT500 vs. M4 drag race.

BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

BMW M4 vs. Ford Shelby GT500

Edmunds says

Our GT500 is a weapon at the test track and holds a special place in our hearts, but its drag race-losing streak remains unbroken.


Edmunds news

See all car news