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Future models - BMW - 5 Series - M5

First look: BMW uncovers all-new M5 super-sedan

Shift point: BMW’s first-ever all-wheel-drive M-car is as fast as Mercedes’ E63 S to 100km/h, but the Bavarian brand is confident that it has the edge over the Stuttgart marque in terms of driving dynamics.

BMW’s blistering new-generation M5 emerges ahead of 2018 Australian launch

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BMW logo22 Aug 2017

By TERRY MARTIN

BMW has revealed the first photographs and full details of its almighty sixth-generation M5 high-performance sedan overnight, confirming its status as the German prestige marque’s fastest-ever production model with 0-100km/h acceleration in a supercar-like 3.4 seconds.

Due on sale in Australia in March or April next year, the lighter and, for the first time in M history, four-wheel-drive M5 is armed with a reworked version of the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine that is now confirmed as producing 441kW of power at 5600-6700rpm and 750Nm of torque from 1800rpm right through to 5600rpm.

This is the same power output as limited-run versions such as the ‘30 Jahre M5’ and ‘Competition Edition’ based on the previous F10 5 Series, but 18kW more than the former standard M5, while the new peak pulling power in this G30 generation is up 50Nm on the special editions and a hefty 70Nm higher than the previous regular model.

As well as holding true to BMW’s promise that it would reach the Australian highway speed limit in less than 3.5 seconds (the F10 Competition made it in 3.9s while the previous M5 did it in 4.2s), the new M5 can, in combination with its new ZF-sourced eight-speed torque-converter M Steptronic automatic transmission, clock 200km/h from standstill in 11.1s on its way to a top speed of 250km/h – or 305km/h if the optional M Driver’s Package is specified.

This takes the fight well and truly up to Mercedes-Benz’s equally impressive E63 S, which maintains its bragging rights over BMW in terms of sheer output – its 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 develops 450kW/850Nm – but, driving through a nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic and AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, has an equivalent 3.4s 0-100km/h time and a similarly governed 250km/h V-max (or 300km/h with the AMG Driver’s Package).

No more than 25kg separate the two large super-sedans, the M5 with a kerb weight of 1930kg (down 15kg, aided by a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof and modified lightweight exhaust system) and the E63 S tipping the scales at 1955kg, while official fuel consumption figures on the combined cycle are in Mercedes’ favour – 9.1L/100km compared to a still-impressive 10.5.

Australian pricing will be confirmed later this year, but expect the new M5 – which will retail in Europe for €117,900 ($A174,050) to be around the $240,000 mark of the E63 S. A specially equipped First Edition, which carries a €19,500 ($A28,777) premium in Europe and is limited to 400 examples worldwide, should also be available here.

BMW Group Australia has put its hand up for the First Edition, which has an exclusive dark-red metallic body colour, high-gloss black exterior highlights, black 20-inch seven-arm double-spoke light alloy wheels – up from the standard 19-inch five-double-spoke rims on ZR-rated 275/40 front and 285/40 rear tyres – and, on the inside, piano-black trim, unique M multifunction seats (with the availability of full leather upholstery in white with contrasting red stitching) and a production number plaque on the centre console.

BMW says the M5’s improved performance capabilities derive from newly developed turbochargers and a higher maximum injection pressure of 350 bar, allowing for shorter injection times and improved fuel atomisation for better engine responsiveness.

Lubrication and cooling systems were also overhauled, all with an eye on ensuring that the M5 not only provides a rewarding drive on public roads but can handle intense workloads on a closed circuit.

And this underscores what looks to be BMW’s main objective with the latest M5 – it hasn’t gone out to match or surpass Mercedes in every single parameter, but clearly wants recognition as the benchmark in class for dynamic performance.

The M xDrive four-wheel-drive system (with Active M Differential) is a central element, deemed necessary with the extra horsepower and grunt from the modified engine and, as previously detailed, has a rear-drive bias, selectable modes that include M Dynamic (for more torque directed to the rear axle and a higher rear wheel-slip tolerance) and, with the racetrack in mind, three separate modes for when the dynamic stability control system is switched off – 4WD, 4WD Sport and a pure two-wheel-drive option.

The driver is offered various other ways in which the M5 can be configured. The M Steptronic transmission has three ‘Drivelogic’ modes (progressively shortening shift times) and a sequential manual shift option, and the M-specific variable damper control and electromechanical M Servotronic steering each have three driving modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

The engine characteristics can also be changed at the push of a button, from the Efficient setting at start-up to either Sport or Sport Plus, while the “acoustic presence” of the exhaust system can be manually controlled via an M Sound Control switch.

BMW says the familiar double-wishbone front suspension “has been reworked from the ground up” – front track width also increases to 1626mm – while the five-link rear suspension was heavily modified to meet “M-specific requirements”. There is a heavy emphasis on increasing chassis stiffness to cope with the “increased demands on the driving dynamics and steering precision”.

M compound brakes are fitted standard, which are lighter than cast-iron units, aided by six-piston fixed callipers up front (painted blue and with the M logo) and single-piston floating callipers at the rear. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option, saving 23kg and easily spotted with the inclusion of gold-coloured M-branded callipers.

Naturally, the cabin has M-specific design elements and equipment throughout, the large digital instrument cluster and head-up display being obvious reference points given the need for the driver to be informed of the various modes and settings engaged at any one time.

Included here is a variable rpm pre-warning field and shift lights that show the optimum time to change gears when in manual shift mode.

BMW says that virtually all the driving dynamic systems can be configured using the central touch display, buttons on the centre console or M sports steering wheel, while the central information display offers gesture control as well.

Merino leather trim is applied across the interior, and the front seats are M sports buckets with plenty of adjustment including seat depth and pneumatic backrest width. More elaborate M multifunction seats providing even higher levels of occupant support are available as an option.

The sixth incarnation of the M5 since the nameplate was stamp-pressed into service in 1984 is set to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month, ahead of production starting in November.

Audi and its RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback in Performance guise stands as the other main rival for BMW and its M5, packing a 445kW/700Nm (750Nm on overboost) 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that can send each body style from 0-100km/h in 3.7s, to 200km/h in 12.1s and on to a top speed of 250km/h (305km/h with the Dynamic Package Plus).

For the record, the 448kW 6.6-litre bi-turbo V12-powered M760Li xDrive still holds the mantle as BMW’s most powerful model, but needs 3.8s to reach 100km/h from a standing start.

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