The CLAR (cluster architecture) structure, as it is known, endows the new M5 with a considerably more rigid, yet lighter, body than its predecessor’s. BMW’s M division claims it contributes to even more engaging driving traits than the outgoing F10- generation model, despite the adoption of four-wheel drive in place of the M5’s traditional rear-wheel drive.
M division boss Frank van Meel said: “Thanks to M xDrive, the new BMW M5 offers true rear-wheel-drive-like driving traits as well as significantly enhanced directional stability and controllability right up to the limits of performance, even when driving in adverse conditions such as in the wet or snow.”
2018 BMW M5 prototype review: super saloon goes four-wheel drive
Revealed as part of Electronic Art’s Need For Speed: Payback, a video game in which it stars, the new M5 is visually differentiated from standard 5 Series models by a range of customary BMW M division styling cues. These give it a muscular and familiar appearance.
Dimensionally, BMW’s new performance saloon is bigger than any other M5 before it Length grows by 55mm to 4965mm, width is up by 12mm to 1903mm and height has increased by 16mm to 1473mm.
However, despite these increases and the adoption of four-wheel drive, BMW M has managed to reduce the kerb weight by 25kg over the fifth-generation model, at 1855kg. Weight-saving initiatives employed on the new M5 include an aluminium bonnet, carbonfibre roof, a boot-mounted lithium ion battery and what is described as “a lightweight exhaust system”.
One of the keys to the M5’s enduring success through the years has been its practical four-door layout and comparatively roomy interior. The new model continues this by offering seating for up to five people and a nominal 530 litres of luggage capacity. Inside, there is a new multi-function steering wheel, M-specific digital instruments and electrically adjustable seats.
In pictures: Autocar's history of the BMW M5
Mounted longitudinally up front, the engine used by the new M5 is a development of its forebear’s twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8. The direct-injection petrol unit receives new turbos, a revised intercooler, increased fuel-injection pressure of 350 bar and a new high-capacity oil pump.
Power is increased by 40bhp over the standard version of the previous M5, at 592bhp, and it is delivered some 400rpm lower than before at 5600rpm. This endows the new model with a powerto-weight ratio of 319bhp per tonne, which is 24bhp per tonne more than its predecessor. Torque is also up, by 51lb ft. A stout 553lb ft is developed over a wide, 3800rpm range between 1800rpm and 5600rpm. Additionally, the driver can choose between three modes — Efficient, Sport and Sport Plus — via a Drive Performance button.