The first of the highly anticipated blue-blooded mid-sized sports sedans from Germany hitting roads is the Gen VI 2018 BMW M5. Since launch of the first generation in 1984, the M5 has been engineered to be a rear wheel drive Autobahn bruiser, but not anymore.
The incoming model brings in a few changes which the creators feel not only keep up with the ethos of the performance ‘M’ badge but also aspire to remain in tune with current performance and efficiency demands besides meeting legislative and environmental parameters.
Each generation of the M5 has seen bump in power output and the incoming model is no exception despite stricter environmental norms. As a result, downsizing displacement and the pursuit of acceptable CO2 numbers mean lesser cylinders these days.
Thanks to the latest version of BMW’s lightweight and compact 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo engine now offers 600 hp and 750Nm torque which is available from 1,800rpm through to 5,600rpm. The car has been designed to offer supercar performance in a street legal sedan with a 0-96km/h sprint time of just 3.2 seconds!
The car’s new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic offers extremely fast shift times and optimises change points to deliver the best performance. A higher final drive ratio also helps reduced fuel consumption.
The set-up allows drivers to choose fully automatic shifting in “D” mode and sequential switching of gears in “S” mode. This is possible both with the new short gear selection switch on the centre console as well as via M-shift paddles on the steering wheel.
And for the first time, the M5 is being offered with xDrive all-wheel-drive (AWD) configuration. BMW’s AWD system is highly flexible as in normal driving conditions it is 80 per cent rear wheel biased in terms of power delivery. It can also sense wheel spins and will act accordingly when it comes to shifting power to ensure there’s no loss of traction power. This operation is done by electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
With the all wheel drive set up, driver can choose from five different configurations based on combinations of the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) on/off and M xDrive modes (MDM, 4WD, 4WD Sport, 2WD).
When the driver opts and switches to M Dynamic mode (MDM, 4WD Sport), the car instantly becomes sharper and more agile. This is because more torque is fed to the rear axle and the rear wheels give more wheel slippage which in turn permits controlled drifts and playful handling, but with controlled oversteer. Meanwhile, the pure rear-wheel-drive 2WD mode is designed for track use by experienced drivers and is dedicated entirely to pure driving pleasure without restrictive control systems especially DSC intervention.
Complementing the powertrain set-up is an agile chassis which engineers designed and tested on the in-house race track in Miramas in France, as well at the world’s toughest test track – the famous Nordschleife loop of Nürburgring track in Germany. Keeping the car planted on the road are the 275/40 R 19 tyres up front and 285/40 R 19 at the rear. BMW claims the tyres have been specially homologated for this vehicle.
As a road-going car, comfort features include the speed sensitive electromechanical steering system which provides the right steering torque for every driving situation. The car boasts incredible turn-in, coupled to excellent steering feedback, yet in city and short-distance traffic it adapts to offer low steering forces during manoeuvring and parking.
The first 400 units to be released for sale are designated as First Editions with unique exterior paintwork and interior trim colours.
Three decades, six generations and the will to excel – the BMW M5
A chequered story that began over 30 years ago and is based on a seemingly simple recipe: luxury through the highest level of performance and comfort in a street legal mid-sized sedan
1984: The first generation M5 (Type E28S) was powered by a 24-valve six-cylinder 3.5-litre engine with 282hp borrowed from the mid-engined M1 sports car. The car sprinted from a standstill to 96km/h in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 152mph. It was the fastest four-door production sedan of its time.
1988: More power came with the second generation M5 (Type E34). BMW Motorsport GmbH shoehorned a 3.6-litre engine and for the first time a M5 reached 155mph. During its career the engine displacement increased to 3.8-litres and the output to 327hp. From 1992, a Touring version appeared, of which only 900 were made.
1998: The third generation M5 (Type E39S) came in with loads of confidence and oomph. Underneath the bonnet it packed a 5.0-litre 32-valve V8 engine, good for 396hp and 500Nm of torque. Top speed was limited to 155mph, with zero to 96km/h in just 5.3 seconds.
2005: With the fourth generation M5 (Type E60), BMW developed a new 5.0-litre V10 engine with 503hp on tap, delivered at an astonishing 7,750rpm. It did the zero to 96km/h sprint in just 4.7 seconds and again was limited to 155mph. In some markets, the M5 driver was able to cancel the maximum speed limit with the new M Drivers Package – so the M5 went as fast as 189mph. Also new was the automated Sequential M Transmission with seven gears and Launch Control feature for maximum acceleration from standstill.
2010: The fifth generation (Type F10M) came in 2011 with a downsized but equally potent engine. BMW introduced its first generation forced fed 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo engine that produced 558hp, almost double that of the first M5. Torque of 680Nm also represented almost double improvement. The turbocharged M5 sprinted from 0 to 96km/h in 4.3 seconds, via a new 7-speed M twin-clutch transmission. Its unrestricted top speed was 189mph.
In 2013 came the M5 with Competition Package, a variant with 573hp. In 2014, the special 30th anniversary model with 598hp came along, of which only 300 were built.
2017: With the sixth generation M5 (Type F90), BMW M is continuing its success story with the M5 series of machines.