BMW’s 6th generation M5 is by far the best one yet.
The big news for 2018 is the M5 will debut a new M-specific all-wheel-drive system creatively called M xDrive which offers drivers a range of drive modes from AWD with Dynamic Stability Control turned all the way to rear-wheel-drive only with no DSC.
However, the headline grabber is what lay under the hood. The latest iteration of BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 gains 40 hp and 53 lb-ft over the outgoing motor, 600 horsepower is available to you from 5,700 to 6,600 rpm, while the M5’s chest caving 553 lb-ft of peak twist turns on at 1,800 rpm and sticks around until 5,700. Power delivery can be changed at the push of a button from the cars steady state Efficient mode to either the intermediate Sport setting or the ultra-aggressive Sport Plus.
The engine is partnered with a new 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic, which then joins forces with the M xDrive system to transfer all of the high-revving turbocharged explosions to the road and impel the car to 60 mph in a ridiculous 3.2 seconds, making it the quickest and most agile M5 to date–are you really surprised?
The power increase comes from a newly developed twin-scroll turbos which are calibrated to deliver 24.46 psi of boost, plus new high-pressure fuel injectors which up pressure from 200 bar to 350 bar which BMW says it allows for “shorter injection times and improved atomization of the fuel for sharper engine response as well as more efficient mixture preparation.”
Feeding the turbos are new cross-bank exhaust manifolds which optimize the flow of exhaust gas to the impellers of the twinned, twin-scroll turbos for an optimized gas-exchange cycle.
The car breathes through an active exhaust system which varies sound by mode, plus the M Sound Control button which allows for further acoustic trickery. Engineers were able to cut 11 lbs from the exhaust system thanks to a new Helmholtz resonator seated between the two silencers.
Cooling has also been improved over the 5th generation M5 with new indirect charge air cooling units, which do their job better than the outgoing units despite being almost 20% smaller. BMW also went to work on the M5’s lubrication system, the oil pan contains a small front sump, and the supply system uses a variable, map-controlled pump which was designed to counter oil starvation issues that can occur under high levels of longitudinal and lateral acceleration.
According to BMW, the new 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic was paradoxically made for fuel-efficient, high-performance duty thanks to a wide ratio spread. The torque converter lock-up clutch has been programmed to fully engage once the car has pulled away in order to facilitate “instantaneous response and lightning-fast gear changes.” Both automatic shifting and sequential gearshifts are available via the new short gear selector or the flappy paddles on the steering wheel.
Shift mapping can be modified using the Drivelogic rocker switch on the gear selector. Mode 1 is for efficiency, Mode 2 shortens shift times for sporty driving, while Mode 3 is for high-performance driving, shortening shift times to the extreme.
The M xDrive system is a performance optimized, rear-biased version of BMW’s ubiquitous xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system which was then hooked to the company’s Active M Differential technology. The transfer case smartly splits torque between the front and rear wheels, with the Active M Differential responsible for determining the drive flow between the rear wheels, choosing to lock or open the differential as the situation unfolds.
Even in the M5’s default setting with both DSC and 4WD activated, BMW will allow for a certain amount wheel spin at the rear under heavy acceleration when accelerating off apex. M Dynamic mode (4WD Sport) direct more torque to the rear axle, while even more rear wheel slip is allowed. The car’s pure rear-wheel-drive mode has been designed with the experienced and highly-skilled driver in mind allowing for shenanigans to be maximized. When totally wrung out the car will scamper to a felony level 124 mph in just 11.1 seconds, on its way to a 155 mph max velocity; or 189 mph if you opt for the M Driver’s Package.
Upholding all of the new mechanical weaponry is a chassis tuned for maximum directional stability and driving dynamics, with tuning taking place at the BMW owned Miramas circuit in the south of France, plus obligatory time on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. M-specific Variable Damper Control includes three driving modes via electronically controlled shock absorbers, while the electromechanical M Servotronic steering includes the same range of adjustability.
Stability increases thanks to a wider track width, a reworked double-wishbone handles front suspension duty, while a five-link setup handles things at the rear. Firmer anti-roll bars and new toe links with stiffer rubber mounts up the car’s performance threshold while specially developed elastomer bearings on the rear axle mounts dial out any delay in transferring chassis forces for more direct handling. The chassis has been stiffened using a steel X-brace, an aluminum transverse strut stiffens the chassis linkages at the rear axle; while aluminum tower-to-bulkhead struts and tower-to-frontend strut braces stiffen the front end.
The package rolls on a staggered set of Michelin performance rubbers–275/40 R19 at the front and 285/40 R19 out back– mounted on five-double-spoke cast light-alloy wheels in polished Orbit Grey; 20-inch wheels will be available as an option. Arresting progress are standard M compound brakes, blue painted 6-piston calipers bite 15.74-inch perforated front discs, while a set of single-piston floating calipers work with 14.66-inch rotors in the back. Optional M carbon ceramic brakes with gold-painted calipers will cut 51 lbs of unsprung mass.
Styling is traditional M GmbH, which the company refers to as the “world’s fastest moving tailored suit.” The new front bumper has gratuitous air intakes to feed the cooling systems and brakes with cold air. The hood and front fenders are made of aluminum to cut weight while the roof is made from BMW’s proprietary carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, a first for the M5. Based on European specifications, the M5 weighs 4,090 pounds (1,855 kilograms).
Moving inside, the 2018 M5 is trimmed with Extended Merino leather as standard, with M Multifunction front buckets with electric adjustment, heating, pneumatic backrest adjustment, and an illuminated M5 logo. For the first time, the M5 is available with every driver assistance system found in the regular BMW 5 Series.
All of the car’s functions are located directly in the driver’s eye line, with a large digital instrument cluster wearing an M-specific skin which informs the driver about mode selection, all-wheel-drive settings, and Drivelogic options. The binnacle also features changeable rpm pre-warnings and shift lights which can also be projected through the Head-Up Display.
Virtually all of the driving dynamic systems can be configured using the central touchscreen display, buttons on the center console or M sports steering wheel, and the central information display offers BMW Gesture control. The car also gets two red-painted M-buttons, M1 and M2, mounted on the steering wheel, allowing for quick access to two individual performance set-ups.
Pricing for the U.S. hasn’t been announced, but Europeans will take a €117,900 ($139,347 USD) hit, with ordering set to begin in September 2017.