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BMW revs up new M5 ahead of debut

Customers set to sample M5 super sedan in Spain as BMW gets set for 2012 blast off

BMW logo31 Aug 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

BMW is getting ready to roll out the red carpet to hard-core M5 customers, inviting up to 40 committed Australian buyers to Spain to join about 1200 counterparts from around the world to drive the all-new fifth-generation super sedan at the Ascari race track near Seville from October.

The customers are paying their own way to the invitation-only event, which will mark the global launch of the M5 that will get its first public airing at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Powered by a turbocharged V8 in place of the V10 of the current model that went out of production in the middle of 2010, the new 305km/h M5 is expected to land in Australia in February.

And although BMW is not yet talking about it in detail, the M5 will be followed by an M6 in two-door coupe, convertible and four-door Gran Coupe guises, probably in 2013, using the same 4.4-litre turbo V8 powertrain.

As GoAuto has reported, the engine is the most powerful series production powerplant ever built by BMW, generating 412kW of power at 6000rpm and 680Nm of torque from 1500rpm.

BMW claims the sedan can cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.4 seconds – about 0.2 seconds faster than the dual-clutch-transmission-equipped M3 Coupe – and return a combined fuel economy reading of 9.9 litres per 100km – about 30 per cent better than the superseded model.

The customer event in Spain was revealed to GoAuto by BMW M’s head of sales for Asia, Pacific and Middle East, Marcel Muhl, at this week’s Australian media launch for the new 1 Series M Coupe in Melbourne.

14 center imageHe said the event had been opened to BMW’s keenest M5 owners who were willing to travel to Spain to get the earliest taste of the new model.

He said the event would cover one and a half days, with a gala dinner on the first night and then a drive day at the track, using about 20 M5s in rotation between October 16 and November 12.

Before then, the world’s motoring press will witness the public unveiling of the BMW performance flagship at the Frankfurt motor show in two weeks, when the German car-maker will also take the covers from its new electric i-car range, including the petrol-electric hybrid I8 sports coupe.

Mr Muhl confirmed that the M Division was already at work on other M cars, including the new-generation M3 that will follow the launch of the all-new F30 3 Series range that is set to debut in Australia around March or April.

Asked if an M6 was in the works to provide a performance flagship for the new 6 Series convertible and upcoming coupe, Mr Muhle said: “You can expect this.”

GoAuto understands that the M treatment will also extend to the 6 Series Gran Coupe – the four-door version of the 6 Series coupe – that is expected to arrive Down Under about the third quarter of 2012.

Mr Muhl said there was no standard time gap between the launch of a BMW model and the arrival of the M version, adding that it depended on how much differentiation and engineering effort was required.

He said the M engineers had to wait until a standard model was in the final stages of preparation for production, because the M Division needed to minimise changes to both parts and tooling to keep the costs in check.

Mr Muhl said Australia was a steady market for M cars, traditionally ranking in the top 10 markets in the world.

But he said the rise of the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and other emerging markets had overtaken Australia and some other western markets.

The United States remains the number one destination for M-enhanced BMWs, last year taking 6821 vehicles, well ahead of second-placed Germany on 1716 units. BMW Australia sold 509 M cars.

This year, China has already snapped up 1007 M-badged BMWs, and is threatening to overtake Germany in the next few years. In 2008, just 66 M cars were sold in China.

Although the new 1 Series M Coupe is the latest model and in hot demand, accounting for more than 1000 sales globally from the M Division so far this year, the M3 remains the biggest seller, with 6684 sales to the end of July.

This year, BMW expects to sell about 16,000 M cars globally, which is an improvement on last year but still down on the record 24,000 units of 2008.

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