New BMW M5: prices, performance, specs, release date & video

BMW’s new M5 supersaloon features four-wheel drive, produces 592bhp, does 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and costs £90k

Full details have been announced for the new BMW M5 performance saloon. The latest version of this iconic four-door supercar is faster, lighter, more powerful – and yes, more expensive – than the previous-generation M5. But beyond those expected traits, it also comes with four-wheel drive as standard – a first for the M5.

The original BMW M5 invented the supersaloon format when it launched in 1985. This latest, sixth-generation M5 produces over twice the power of its 282bhp ancestor and accelerates twice as quickly.

2018 BMW M5 engine, gearbox, four-wheel-drive system and power

Under the new M5’s sculpted aluminium bonnet rests an evolution of BMW’s established twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine. Tuned to produce 592bhp, this powers all four wheels via BMW’s eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic gearbox, which promises smooth changes when unstressed and lightning-quick shifts when called on. Acceleration from 0-62mph officially takes 3.4 seconds, top speed is limited to 155mph and fuel economy is officially pegged at 26.9mpg.

While some may be surprised BMW is fitting the new M5 with a conventional ‘torque converter’ gearbox rather than the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic of the previous M5, conventional autos have been getting ever faster-shifting in recent years, edging closer to the almost telepathic speed of dual-clutch setups, but without such mechanical complexity.

Another change for the 2018 M5 is its M xDrive four-wheel-drive system. This powers the rear wheels by default, bringing the front wheels into play “when the rear wheels reach their limits of adhesion”.

Anyone sceptical of BMW’s decision to fit the new M5 with four-wheel drive need only turn to its performance figures: towards the end of its life, the previous rear-wheel-drive M5 was offered as a limited-run 30 Jahre Edition, which was more powerful than the standard 552bhp car and matched the 592bhp figure produced by the latest M5’s engine. But the 30 Jahre took 3.9 seconds to reach 62mph from rest, whereas the new four-wheel-drive M5 is half a second quicker.

Still not convinced? Want the new M5 to be rear-wheel drive? Not a problem: simply switch the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) off and stick it in rear-wheel-drive mode – although note BMW cautions this setting is “designed for track use by experienced drivers” only.

Driving and gearbox modes

In the early 2000s, the M5 established a reputation for offering a highly configurable driving experience and the 2018 model is no exception. The gearbox alone has no fewer than three modes (1, 2 and 3), which cycle between relaxed, quick and very quick shifts at the push of a gearlever-mounted button. Put the gearbox in ‘S’ mode, meanwhile, and it’ll drop down several ratios for you when you pull on the left-hand steering-wheel-mounted shift paddle, saving you multiple pulls and precious milliseconds in the process.

There are three modes for the suspension (Comfort, Sport and SportPlus) and another three settings (with the same names) for the steering’s sensitivity and weight. Add Efficient, Sport and SportPlus modes for the engine’s responsiveness and a quiet mode for the M5’s active exhaust and it’s clear almost no stone has been left unturned in BMW’s pursuit of the ultimate in tailored driving.

If all that sounds like a setting or six too far, rest assured the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel (now finished in red lacquer and more prominently placed than they were in the previous M5), will change those settings in groups, with M1 selecting Sport and M2 SportPlus across all customisable systems.

Design and interior

The sensible 5 Series body means the M5 is a pretty practical thing, but it features enough aesthetic embellishments to mark it out as the four-door supercar it really is. Quad exhaust pipes, numerous large air intakes, a pronounced rear diffuser, swollen wheelarches, a carbon-reinforced plastic roof and unique wing mirrors are among the exterior highlights, while the blue brake calipers become matt-gold if you specify the optional carbon-ceramic brakes.

Sports seats with lots of adjustability, an M-specific digital dashboard display, a red starter button and an M-branded gear selector mark the M5 out inside, while many paint options – including a new hue dubbed Marina Bay Blue – are available exclusively with the M5.

Pre-production drive

Our sister title Auto Express tested a pre-production M5 recently and confirmed the model’s characteristic split personality was present and correct. So you can expect the M5 to be smooth and easy to drive when tootling around town, but rapid and unceasingly accelerative once the road opens up.

New BMW M5 price and release date

The BMW M5 goes on sale in February 2018, priced from £90,640.

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