When the first BMW M5 arrived on our shores in 1987, it was the quintessential Q-ship, an innocent-looking 5-series powered by the engine of the legendary M1 supercar. Previewed by this concept, the upcoming, fifth-generation of the ultimate 5-series doesn't look quite so innocent anymore.
It’s safe to assume that the production car will look pretty much exactly like this “concept.” The front fascia is dominated by the fighter-jet-inspired central air intake, which is flanked by—what else?—two more gaping intakes. Unlike the regular 5-series, there are no fog lights on the M5, as M still doesn't put those on its cars. The hood is identical to that of the regular 5-series, and a fender vent is the only giveaway on the side that this is no ordinary 5-series. Get up close, though, and you’ll notice higher numbers stamped into the tire sidewalls, 265/35-20 up front and 295/30-20 out back. With four exhaust pipes and a diffuser, the rear is impressive, if nothing surprising. A small lip spoiler on the trunk increases downforce.
And downforce it needs: The M5’s governed 155-mph top speed is only the beginning. At least in Germany, BMW will loosen the limiter to 190 mph as part of an option package that will include a driver-training course. Note that even 190 will be an artificial ceiling: Without the governor, BMW says the M5 could exceed 200 mph.
The capability to reach that speed comes from a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8. It's basically the same engine used by the X5 M and X6 M, in which it makes 555 hp. In the M5, that total is likely to increase. This engine will make the M5, after the two M SUVs and the 1-series M coupe, the fourth car to deviate from the former and now-obsolete M gospel of high-revving naturally aspirated engines. As consolation, M GmbH development chief Albert Biermann hints that the turbo V-8 will rev beyond 7000 rpm, and BMW promises a 25-percent increase in fuel economy over the 8200-rpm V-10 in the previous M5.
Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and an electrically controlled active differential developed especially for the M5. The suspension and brakes also are exclusive to the M5. The American interest in an honest-to-clutch-pedals manual transmission forced BMW to build the last-gen M5 with a stick, and this time around, we will be the only market to get the option of a six-speed manual.
Sadly, no market will get the M5 Touring station wagon that was available in previous generations of the car. Blame us, as the U.S. is BMW's most important market for this vehicle, and, well, we’re just not smart enough to buy station wagons. In fact, we will get no wagon versions of the current 5-series at all. It’s a bit disappointing, but an M5 sedan with more than 550 hp is a fine consolation prize.
Thanks to: Car and Driver