Five things you need to know about the new M5
1: BMW has given it all-wheel drive:
BMW finally realized that sending a gazillion horsepower through the rear wheels isn't always a good idea – especially not in a burly sports sedan that gets used on a day-to-day basis. So to make the new M5 more civilized and better suited to a broader range of driving scenarios, BMW has gone and fitted it with a trick all-wheel drive system known as M xDrive.
It works with a central transfer case with multi-plate clutch and distributes drive fully variably between the front and rear axle, as required. The driver also has various modes to switch between, namely 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. The latter, as you've probably already guessed, turns the M5 into a pure rear-wheel drive machine – ideal for when you're out on the track.
2: It's more powerful
Well of course it is. To keep up with its rivals the familiar 4.4-litre V8 motor from the outgoing model has been beefed up with better turbochargers, improved indirect charge air cooling and increased fuel injection pressure. Power is now up to 441kW at 5 600rpm while torque has swelled to 750Nm from just 1 800rpm.
Sent through "a specially tuned eight-speed M Steptronic transmission" this muscle is good enough to send the new M5 to 100km/h in a claimed 3.4-seconds. Top speed? You're looking at a governed 250km/h. But spec the optional M Driver’s Package and it'll keep going to 305km/h.
3: It weighs less
Being equipped with an all-wheel drive system you'd expect the new M5 to be heavier than its predecessor. Amazingly it isn't. In fact thanks to the liberal use of gravity-cheating components – a CFRP roof and aluminum bonnet to mention but a few – the new car is actually lighter.
4: It should stop as well as it accelerates
The new BMW M5 comes standard with M compound brakes, which are lighter than conventional grey cast iron items and therefore help reduce unsprung mass (important for improved handling dynamics). Those keen on taking their car to the occasional track day will be no doubt be tempted by the optional M carbon ceramic brakes that not only offer even better retardation but also further weight savings – 23 kilograms to be precise.
5: It comes well equipped
Some noteworthy features of the new M5 include Variable Damper Control (toggle between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes), Driving Experience Control (Efficient, Sport and Sport Plus modes are offered), a Head-Up-Display plus two programmable M buttons on the steering wheel.
There's also a new "loud" button for the exhaust that, according to BMW, will sex-up the soundtrack by opening special flaps inside the tailpipes. 19-inch alloy wheels come standard (20-inchers are optional) as do Merino leather M seats with electric adjustment. – Thomas Falkiner