Here we have it, the all-new 6th-generation BMW M5, revealed fully after a thankfully restrained (mostly) hype campaign. In many ways, as its predecessors have, it’s the new flagship of the automaker’s high performance line-up.
Perhaps the distinct and refreshingly spartan presence of a pre-reveal marketing campaign was only half intentional as BMW already expected the reception of their new M5 to be mostly about quiet admiration rather than overt awe. After all, the first thing most would notice about the car - as with any - is the design, which like the G30 5 Series does resemble its predecessor quite closely.
For enthusiasts, though, the changes are still very much worthy of dissection and discussion. As was already announced, this would be the first car from BMW’s M division to feature all-wheel drive. It’s a system that they call M xDrive, a sportier spin their usual xDrive solution that can have its front/rear biases altered on the fly and even decouple the front axle altogether to return to a full rear-drive layout.
BMW really couldn’t stand to ignore having all-wheel traction in their premier super saloon, with primary competitors Audi and Mercedes-AMG offering it (the former by default), opening their cars the RS6 and E 63 up to a wider spectrum of ability in tricky weather conditions. Even in dry conditions, there’s something to be said about track lap times being improved significantly by having the front wheels clawing at the road.
“The core component of M xDrive is a central intelligence unit with M-specific software delivering integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The new drivetrain technology – making its debut on the new BMW M5 – therefore combines all of the agility and precision of standard rear-wheel drive with the supreme poise and traction of the all-wheel-drive system,” explains Frank van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH. “As a result, the new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road – and in various weather conditions, too.”
Sitting midway between the rubber and motive combustion is a new 8-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission which, sans the fancy name, is an optimised version of the already highly regard ZF 8HP torque converter found in nearly all other BMW models.
Sending power to those wheels is an upgraded version of the S63 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, now producing 441kW and 750Nm. Over the preceding F10 M5 in its debut specification, this is an increase of roughly 29kW and 70Nm. But more than raw output, the newer motor’s enhanced cooling and lubrication system, higher injection pressure, new turbochargers, and an upgraded (as well as lighter) exhaust system contributes to an overall sharper and more responsive character.
There’s no doubt that this will be the quickest M car (in stock form) to lap the average track, but it’s also now the quickest to sprint from rest, taking just 3.4 seconds to shoot to 100km/h thanks to all wheels to transmit all that grunt onto the road. In true Germanic fashion, though, the gentleman’s agreement to limit all cars to 250km/h remains here, but delimited it will puff out at 305km/h.
Built atop the Cluster Architecture (CLAR) that underpins the G30 5 Series, the new M5 is both lighter and more rigid thanks to the incorporation of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymers (CFRP) into its core construction, aiding the double wishbone front and five-link rear suspension in keeping the car level and flat through bends while maintaining a certain pliability to its ride on the limit. CFRP is also used elsewhere to reduce weight and/or improve weight distribution and centre of gravity, such as the material being used for the bonnet, roof, and rear diffuser.
New toe links featuring stiffer rubber mounts help accommodate the increased demands on the driving dynamics and steering precision, as do firmer anti-roll bars and lower wishbones that have been optimised for stiffness. Specially developed for the M5, the elastomer bearings on the rear axle mounts ensure that there is no delay in transferring chassis forces, which makes for more direct handling. An additional steel X-brace and an aluminium transverse strut increase the stiffness of the chassis linkages at the rear axle, resulting improved response.
Inside, M has gone for more subtle touches to accentuate the added specialness that comes with their cars over the common or garden BMW. The M5 is trimmed in Merino leather as standard, there are heated and electrically adjustable thickly bolstered sports seats with memory functions and pneumatic backrests.
There are two buttons positioned on either centre of the steering wheel, painted red and labelled M1 and M2, which allow drivers to configure two individual set-ups for the car. These include their choice of M xDrive, DSC, engine, transmission, damper and steering characteristics, as well as the appearance of M view in the HeadUp Display.
There’s also the M5 First Edition, seen here in its unique Frozen Dark Red Metallic (can’t believe it’s not matte) exterior, 20-inch seven-double spoke light alloy wheels, and also includes the BMW Individual Shadow Line trim that blacks out the kidney grille, side gills, quad tailpipes. The First Edition is limited to jus 400 units worldwide.