With BMW’s boffins moving to forced induction for the first time in any ‘M’ car, will the latest M5 concept, making its global debut here at the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show, lose the knife-edge sharp response of its high revving V10 predecessor? Writes Sean Carson…
With the new twin-turbo 4395cc engine churning out 552bhp and a whopping 510lb ft of torque there’s no doubt the latest M5 will be somewhere close to the definitive all-rounder when the final production version – the concept car is thought to be a thinly veiled incarnation of the final car – is released at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September.
But will the archetypal super-saloon still be the highly focussed ‘ultimate driving machine’ that BMW’s M division has prided itself on producing for so many years?
People have criticised the move to the blown V8 from the X5M and X6M but with over 50bhp and 125lb ft of torque more than the outgoing 5.0-litre V10, the F10 M5, complete with an all new 7-speed Getrag double-clutch gearbox, should be closer in character to the legendary E39 V8 M5 of the late ‘90s.
With a rumoured kerb weight not much more than the outgoing car’s 1830kg, thanks to extensive use of aluminium and carbon-fibre throughout the car’s chassis, the M5’s fabled dynamic abilities should still be present in the latest car if first drives of the latest 5 are anything to go by.
The new car should knock off the 0-62mph dash in around 4.5 seconds, equalling its main rival, the Mercedes E63 AMG. But in a nod towards efficiency and economy, BMW will also equip the M5 with its EfficientDynamics technology, including a start-stop function and a disengaging alternator (reducing load on the engine) in conjunction with brake energy recuperation. This BMW say, gives a 25% improvement in fuel consumption over the V10.
In a further concession towards economy and a reduction in CO2 emissions, BMW is also showcasing its Chinese-built 5-Series Plug-in Hybrid here at Shanghai 2011, sparking rumours of a dual-motor M5 along the lines of Porsche’s Panamera Hybrid somewhere down the line. Don’t rule it out.
Rumours have it that a US-only manual version of the M5 is on the cards, with the car also set to receive four-wheel drive to satisfy demand in the snow-belt of North America. Expect the biggest ‘M’ saloon to retain its double-clutch ‘box and rear-wheel drive configuration in Europe though.
Standard M5 styling tweaks including a deeper, more aggressive chin spoiler housing the new car’s intercooler, trademark ‘M’ side grilles, flared wheel arches accommodating larger 20 inch wheels and a massaged rear bumper complete with quad tailpipes will make it to production, setting the fastest 5 apart from the rest of the range.
The latest effort from BMW’s styling department is less ‘Q’ car than M5s of old, but there’s no doubting that in the metal the M5 concept certainly carries itself purposefully.
With the Bangle era over and BMW moving back to its traditional cab-backward stance, the 5-Series is finally pretty again and in ‘M’ guise has a muscular edge that’d make a 911 cower with fear.
And so to the price: expect the production M5 to be around the £75k mark when the order books finally open, rivalling products from its German cousins, Audi and Mercedes as well as Jaguar’s XJ for price.
The new M5 seems set to move the game on significantly over the outgoing V10-engined car: Faster, more fuel-efficient and arguably more in character conceptually thanks to the car’s Jekyll and Hyde personality (it’ll doubtless lap a track as quick as a Porsche 911 but waft home in complete luxury), the latest M5 ticks all the boxes.