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First look: BMW reveals more about M5

Power to burn: V10 gives next M5 both performance aplenty and a link to BMW WilliamsF1.

BMW has issued full details of the 373kW V10-powered E60 M5 sports sedan

6 Jul 2004

THE latest iteration of BMW’s stonking M5 sports sedan has been unveiled in all of its muscular glory, following first official details of its bristling new V10 powerplant two weeks ago.

Revealed in concept form at the Geneva motor show in March and to make its worldwide debut in production guise at the September Paris show, the most powerful 5 Series of all time is claimed to sprint to 100km/h in "less than five seconds" – easily eclipsing the current M5’s 5.3-second pace.

Not due on sale here until mid-2005, the latest E60 M5 is also claimed to offer blistering in-gear acceleration, with 0-200km/h acceleration in 15 seconds and a theoretical top speed of 330km/h (if it wasn’t electronically limited to 250km/h).

But while BMW Australia’s conversion of M5’s stated 507bhp peak power figure previously put its maximum output at 378kW, the Munich factory’s official performance figures are actually 373kW at 7750rpm and 520Nm of torque at 6100rpm.

While the power figure fails to match the performance yardstick achieved by Bentley’s ballistic Continental GT (411kW), it’s well above the expected minimum of 368kW, as well as being some 25 per cent more than the outgoing 294kW (at 6600rpm) 5.0-litre M5 and easily surpassing the 100hp-per-litre specific output benchmark.

According to BMW, the highly oversquare (with each 500cc cylinder measuring a 75.2 x 92mm bore and stroke for displacement of 4999cc) and highly strung (redline is a stratospheric 8250rpm) 90-degree DOHC 40-valve engine will be the only high-revving V10 series-production engine available.

While the outright torque figure betters its predecessor’s by only 20Nm (and at a far higher engine speed, marking somewhat of a change in direction for M5), BMW is quick to point out that weight saving is a major benefit of the high-revving V10, which hits the scales at a similar weight as the outgoing V8 (240kg) and, along with a lighter overall kerb weight, allows a lighter and more responsive drivetrain to be employed.

Nevertheless, while peak torque arrives beyond 6000rpm, 80 per cent of this is available at 5500rpm and a handy 450Nm is on tap from just 3500rpm.

As justification of M5’s application of the complex new V10, which provides a useful marketing link to its WilliamsF1 operation, BMW says its inherently high-revving nature was the only way M5 could deliver this sort of engine performance without resorting to a either supercharging or a larger-capacity version of the current M5’s “high-torque V8” – both of which would also have necessitated a heavier drivetrain.

As a result, the 1755kg undercuts the 1795kg E39 M5, which was sold here between March 1999 and last October at $195,800, by 40kg – which isn’t as much as the 10 per cent weight saving realised by that model over its predecessor, but enough to give the new M5 an even better power-to-weight ratio than the stripped-out M3 CSL (at 3.5kg per horsepower).

According to BMW, it also makes it the quickest M5 in the model’s 20-year history (during which some 35,000 examples have found homes) to lap the 24km, 83-corner Nurburgring circuit, in a supercar-like eight minutes.

Apart from more details of the 20 per cent quicker-shifting, seven-speed sequential manual gearbox with 11-program Drivelogic control, the full E60 M5 press kit also reveals the next M5’s new SMG will offer an improved automatic function, Launch Control, a further development of M5’s best-of-both-worlds switchable Power Button, which defaults to make just 300kW available at start-up, which is said to be “sufficient for everyday use”.

There will also be an M3-sourced, torque-sensing Variable M Differential Lock, plus M Dynamic Mode (previously M Track Mode in the M3 CSL), which is activated via an MDrive button on the steering wheel to sharpen all of the car’s electronic senses.

E60 M5, which features 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, will sport three selectable levels of ride comfort via the Electronic Damper Control function, 19-inch wheels with 255/40 front and 285/35-section rear tyres. Braking now includes the 7 Series’ twin-piston sliding-caliper aluminium brakes, capable of 100-0km/h deceleration in a claimed 36 metres.

Visually, E60 M5 will be differentiated by a wind tunnel-tested bodykit that adds deeper front bumpers with a venturi at rear and mesh-covered grille up front, flanked by a pair of ovoid inlets charged with feeding the V10 with twice as much fresh air as the 545i’s 4.4-litre V8 gets.

14 center image M gills behind the front wheels, trademark quad tail-pipes and unique door mirrors complete the external package, while inside there’s a specific instrument cluster that continue to feature yellow and red warning lights that progressively extinguish as engine oil heats up.

Of course, there are also sports seats and a full-size boot said to swallow either four golf bags or two full-size hard suitcases. An exclusive M Head-Up Display will be one of many options here. First deliveries are expected mid-year.

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