Meet the New Benchmark: the 2018 BMW M5

While Americans were staring into the sun, BMW unveiled a new generation of one of their brightest stars: the M5. The sixth-generation M5 is pretty much all new from the ground up and it takes the benchmark of performance sedans to new heights with some brand new tech, more power, and some additional weight savings measures. When it arrives in dealerships next spring, it’ll be hard to find a faster sedan.

Right, so on to the exciting stuff first.
A centerpiece of every M car should be its engine, and for better or worse, this one will look pretty familiar. It’s powered by a 4.4-liter V8 with two turbochargers, much like the F10 M5 was. But thanks to an engine overhaul which introduces new twin-scroll turbochargers with 24.46 psi of relative boost pressure, higher injection pressure, enhanced cooling, a track-ready oil supply system (which can handle high Gs), and a brand-new exhaust system, it now produces 600 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque.
Because I’m nuts and I remember this kind of stuff, a series of F10 M5s were also sold with 600 horsepower, but they didn’t make this kind of torque either.

That power is channeled through a brand-new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, which is like the eight-speed Steptronic in every other BMW but with new gearing for optimum performance, no automatic upshifting before redline when in manual mode, and an oil cooler. The fun dual-clutch transmission with its ferocious, kick-in-the-arse shifting and the even more fun manual gearbox is gone forever.
For the first time in an M5, xDrive all-wheel drive is standard equipment, but that doesn’t mean the glory days of RWD hooning are over. The two all-wheel-drive modes (4WD and 4WD Sport) are still rear biased and will allow a certain amount of slip at the rear wheels when accelerating out of corners (and even more so when you switch to 4WD Sport).

But at any time, even on the go, the front wheels can be disconnected all together for pure RWD goodness. It’s really the best of both worlds with this system because you can have killer straight-line acceleration, greater stability in all weather, and a drifting partner all in one.
Speaking of killer acceleration, the new M5 can sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and 0-124 mph 11.1 seconds. BMW is known to underrate their acceleration figures, so don’t be surprised if one of the cooler car mags clocks one in under three seconds. When equipped with the M Driver’s Package, the top speed limiter is raised to permit speeds up to 189 mph.

With the additional power comes a reworked chassis that was honed on the Nordschleife, as is expected. Like the standard 5 Series, it has a double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, but both have been completely reworked by M engineers for this application. They also added stiffer anti-roll bars, new toe links, new elastomer bearings on the rear axle mounts, aluminum tower-to-bulkhead and tower-to-frontend strut braces, and other things which all create a more rigid chassis and a sharper driving experience.
M-specific Variable Damper Control with electronically controlled shock absorbers can adjust the ride quality depending on road condition or optimize it for track use and the M Servotronic [electric] steering delivers precise inputs and may even tell you what’s happening at the front wheels.

Stopping power comes from “M compound” brakes which replace the conventional cast iron units and offer reduced unsprung mass. Blue-painted six piston calipers work the 15.55″ front discs and single piston calipers work the 14.96″ rear discs. Full-fledged carbon ceramic brakes are still an option though and that adds 15.74″ front discs, gold-painted calipers, and a 50-pound reduction in unsprung and rotating masses.
As for the styling, it’s about what we expected. It’s a more aggressive-looking 5 Series with larger [functional] air intakes, redesigned bumpers, and 19″ five-double-spoke cast light-alloy wheels or 20″ seven-double-spoke wheels. Those in the know can tell exactly what it is, but those who don’t know would think it’s an ordinary 5 Series. Additionally, the front side panels and hood are now made from aluminum for reduced weight and the roof is made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic for the first time ever on an M5.

The interior is exactly what you’d expect as well. It’s fully trimmed with Extended Merino leather as standard and sporty M Multifunction seats offer comfort and thicker side bolsters to support your driving habits. All of the usual driver assistance features in the 5 Series is carried over into the M5 for the first time as well, but the heads-up display gets reworked to show more things a driver would care about. Shift lights, your choice of M xDrive, DSC settings, engine, transmission, damper, and steering characteristics can all be displayed right in your face.

If this all sounds appealing to you, hurry and you might get a chance to buy one of the 400 First Edition M5s (pictured). Of the 400 worldwide, 50 are coming to America. The M5 First Edition is distinguished by Frozen Red Metallic paint and high-gloss Shadow Line trim which extends to the kidney grilles and exhaust tips. It rides on the 20″ seven-spoke wheels that are painted black for this model. Inside, piano black trim, a special plaque, and Smoke White upholstery with red stitching.
With a market launch of spring 2018, we’ll get pricing info sometime later. It was hard to get an F10 M5 for under $100,000 and I’d imagine it’ll be even harder to with this one.
[Source: BMW]

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2 responses to “Meet the New Benchmark: the 2018 BMW M5”

  1. casho2015 Avatar

    Looks tough! Nice interior!

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    I just can’t get excited about an automatic transmission. YES, I realize they are faster these days. But a true manual is SO MUCH more engaging and fun. I guess I’ll just enjoy my classic Bimmer, die out, and let the less-involved driver enjoy the “much faster” car that they’ll never track-race anyway. Too bad.