BMW's latest M5 packs 552bhp and a thumping 510lb ft of torque
19 April 2011

BMW’s M division has gone back to the drawing board with the fifth-generation BMW M5, giving it a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. It’s the first time that Munich’s iconic super-saloon has used forced induction rather than a highly strung naturally aspirated powerplant.

The F10 M5 has made its world debut as a thinly disguised ‘concept’ at the Shanghai show today.

See all the official pics of the BMW M5 - now with Shanghai show pics

The virtually unchanged production version is slated to appear at the Frankfurt show in September, with the car going on sale in the UK in November, priced at around £75k.

The new M5’s 4395cc forced-induction engine makes 552bhp and a thumping 510lb ft of torque — a solid 52bhp and 126lb ft more than the outgoing model’s naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V10, which is being discontinued after just seven years.

“Turbocharging provides more power and performance but with better fuel economy and emissions,” says Albert Biermann, BMW M’s head of R&D. The V8 is the same ‘S63’ unit used in the X5 M and X6 M, but with revised induction and exhausts for sharper throttle response and a more solid top end.

Official performance figures won’t be reveled until Frankfurt, but Autocar sources have revealed that standing-start acceleration has been improved by up to two-tenths of a second.

This points to a 0-62mph time of around 4.5sec — equalling the straight-line performance of its main saloon rival, the £73,415 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.

Top speed, like all M division cars, will be limited to 155mph, although a longer final drive ratio and taller gearing, made possible by the turbo V8’s hefty torque, lift the theoretical top speed to over 180mph.

BMW also claims a significant 25 per cent improvement in fuel economy over the outgoing V10, thanks to the inclusion of EfficientDynamic features such as brake energy recuperation, a disengaging alternator and stop-start function.

Expect the new V8 to appear in the new M6 coupé and convertible, on sale in the UK around spring 2012. BMW officials have also confirmed the potent V8 in the range-topping version of the four-door GranCoupé, Munich’s answer to the Merc CLS63 AMG.

Also new for an M5 is a Getrag seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

A four-wheel-drive M5 also appears to be on the cards, to satisfy demand from the snow belt in the US, where all-wheel-drive Mercedes/AMG and Audi models are selling well. “There will be some all-wheel-drive surprises on M cars in the future,” says Biermann.

Like all previous M5s, BMW has kept styling changes to a minimum. The concept’s deeper front bumper, with large central cooling duct for the intercooler, and the subtly wider front wings are all said to be production ready.

Also set for manufacture are the signature, chrome-rimmed side air vents and LED repeater lamps. At the rear is a subtle lip spoiler that increases downforce at speed and a reprofiled bumper with fully functioning central diffuser.

It’s all rounded off with a set of 20-inch alloy wheels shod with 265/35 ZR20 tyres up front and 295/30 ZR20s at the rear.Despite the increase in size, the new M5 is expected to hit the scales at close to the old car’s 1830kg, due to a series of weight-saving measures, including aluminium and carbonfibre in the bodyshell.

Greg Kable

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