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BMW’s new twin-turbo M5 shapes up

M5 preview: BMW's new 5 Series M Sport bodykit has emerged on Europe 535d, hinting at the look of next year's new M5.

Current M5 production ends after record sales, as twin-turbo successor nears

8 Jul 2010

THE final example of BMW’s current E60 M5 sedan has been produced and its successor is about 12 months away from emerging in Europe, ahead of an Australian release in early 2012.

In the meantime, BMW has provided a preview of what to expect at least visually from the fifth-generation M5, which will come with an even higher performance version of the twin-turbo V8 that powers the X5 and X6 M models, by revealing a new 5 Series M Sports Package.

The M Sports pack for both the sixth-generation (F10) 5 Series sedan, which went on sale here in June, and redesigned 5 Series Touring, which arrives here in October, has been confirmed for release in Australia, with production commencing in September.

Developed by BMW M GmbH, the newest M kit comprises M sports suspension, an M sports bodykit, 18-inch double-spoke M alloy wheels and the option of 19-inch M alloys and an M rear spoiler for the sedan.

Inside, the M-look Fives get Alcantara/fabric seat upholstery with contrasting seams and M badging, a leather-clad M steering wheel, BMW Individual anthracite headlining and M aluminium hexagon interior trim highlights.

While the outgoing M5, which was available in Europe in both sedan and wagon body styles, was powered by a Formula One-style 5.0-litre V10, its replacement has been confirmed to receive a development of the twin-turbo 4.4-litre direct-injection V8 in BMW’s M-badged SUVs.

With gob-smacking outputs of 408kW/680Nm – well up on the 300kW/600Nm outputs of the same engine in the X5 and X6 xDrive50i - the X5/X6 M engine already easily out-performs the current M5’s 373kW/520Nm.

14 center imageLeft: BMW 5 Series M Sport interior and 18-inch wheels. Of course, like the current V8-powered M3 and M versions of the 2000kg-plus X5 and X6, we’re happy to report the force-fed V8 will break another BMW promise – this time by abandoning the high-revving engine concept of the current V10, which can spin well beyond 8000rpm.

M division chief Dr Kay Segler has confirmed the M5’s return to the brawny, stump-pulling ways of the naturally aspirated 4.9-litre V8 in the previous E39 M5, reiterating BMW’s stance that it is “not bound by dogma” by claiming the new M5 will come with a split personality to suit all drivers, at all times.

Toughly translated, Dr Segler told Germany’s AutoBild magazine at the Nurburgring 24-hour last month that the E60 would be BMW’s last V10 M5, and that direct-injection twin-turbo technology could reduce the M5’s fuel consumption by 25 per cent.

“I can now confirm the current 10-cylinder engine will be replaced by an eight-cylinder engine…,” he said. “You will find the philosophy of ‘two cars in one’ explicitly in this vehicle (the M5).

“The vehicle will offer (the best of) both worlds: for normal everyday driving and for use as a racecar at the push of a button… and it will demonstrate that in the second half of 2011.” Autobild speculates the next M5, which should also be joined at the other end of the 5 Series scale by a petrol-electric hybrid version – previewed at Geneva in March by the 5 Series ActiveHybrid concept - could offer in excess of 600hp or about 450kW.

European aftermarket outfit Alpina has already produced a twin-turbo model based on the new 5 Series, dubbed the B5 Biturbo.

The new M5 will replace a model that attracted no fewer than 20,548 buyers since 2005, making the outgoing M5 the most successful in a 26-year history model line that debuted in 1984.

Of that record total, which betters that of even the lauded E39 M5 that ran for six years, the M5 Touring – launched in 2007 – accounted for just 1025 sales, ruling out a next-generation M5 wagon.

The E60 M5 sedan’s biggest market was North America, where 8800 examples were sold – more than in Germany (1647), Great Britain and Ireland (1776), Japan (1357) and Italy (512) – while the M5 Touring was most popular in Germany (302), the UK (208) and Italy (184).

In the wide-ranging interview with Autobild, Dr Segler said his company’s decision to produce the controversial X6 M was vindicated by the fact it has outsold the X5 M.

“I believe - without wishing to seem arrogant - that the X6 M has no competitors… and so our courage has paid off,” he said.

Dr Segler also told Autobild that an M-badged 1 Series coupe – based on the 135i Coupe – will emerge from BMW’s M skunkworks before the new M5, in the second quarter of 2011.

Replacements for the current (also V10-powered) M6 coupe and convertible are also in the works for 2011, based on the upcoming second-generation 6 Series range, which will be expanded to include a four-door grand tourer – based on the Gran Coupe concept from this year’s Beijing show – to rival upcoming next-gen versions of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Maserati Quattroporte.

While the facelifted 3 Series Coupe and Convertible will be BMW’s next local launch (in August), they will be followed this year by Rolls-Royce’s all-new ‘compact Ghost limousine, a second-generation 1 Series and X3 ranges from next year, the first in a series of all-electric ‘Megacity’ micro-models from 2013, the third-generation Mini line-up in 2014 and, perhaps, an X4 crossover based on the next-generation 3 Series.

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