15 March 2004

BMW stole the show at Geneva with the new M5. Although dubbed a concept car, what you see here is very much Munich’s new four-door performance legend, due in UK showrooms in a year’s time. And if you think you've seen it before, that's because it's almost indistinguishable from Autocar's artist's impression published in July last year (pictured).

Out goes the old 4.9-litre V8 in favour of a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V10 engine offering F1-level tech and a staggering 500bhp. Top speed is limited to 155mph, but the acceleration figures are something else.

Ulrich Brunke, the new boss of BMW’s M division, estimated that the new M5 will run from 0-60mph in 4.8sec – a full 0.5sec faster than before. Even more impressive is its claimed 0-120mph time, which is officially put at ‘less than 13.0sec’.

The new E60-based M5 is expected to cost just over £60,000. Insiders claim the £8000 hike over the old car is caused by the extra technology and high levels of standard equipment.

At the heart of BMW’s fourth-generation M5 is a newly developed 40-valve 5.0-litre V10 engine that’s also earmarked for a new M6 model due next year. The 90-degree unit is described by Gerhard Richter, head of development at BMW’s M division, as ‘the most technologically advanced engine ever offered in a road-going BMW.’ It uses double VANOS variable valve timing, individual throttle butterflies, dry sump lubrication and an electronic management system borrowing technology from the BMW Williams F1 car.With 500bhp, it manages to trump the old M5’s 32-valve 5.0-litre V8 by an astonishing 100bhp despite running almost exactly the same capacity. Torque, meanwhile, remains the same as before at a healthy 368lb ft. The new engine will be red-lined around 8500rpm.

BMW’s M division has also provided the latest M5 with a new seven-speed SMG (sequential manual gearbox). The new transmission uses Getrag mechanicals and BMW claims smoother shifts than the existing six-speed SMG unit on the M3. Power is fed to the rear wheels via a beefed-up version of BMW’s limited-slip M-differential, which measures the difference in wheel rotations on either side and apportions power via an electronically controlled clutch.

The M5 rides on a heavily reworked version of the standard 5-series’ MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension. Geometry has been altered with wider tracks and reprofiled control arms, while stiffer sub-frames and more aluminium have been added.Stiffer springs and dampers lower the ride height by around 30mm, while grip is supplied by generously sized 225/40 profile (front) and 285/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres wrapped around 10-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels.

BMW’s Active Steering system has been specially tuned on the new car, although we won’t know exactly how until the production car is shown at the Paris Motor Show in September.

BMW confirmed in Geneva that the new M5 will be produced in saloon form only, with assembly set to kick off at its Dingolfing factory in southern Germany in August.

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