The ultimate super-saloon is back! BMW is ready to unleash its latest M5 at the Shanghai Motor Show later in the month. It’s been more than 20 years since the company created the first official muscle car version of its four-door, but this model proves it has stuck faithfully to the formula of a powerful engine and discreet looks.
The big news is the drivetrain – the mighty 500bhp 5.0-litre V10 has been dropped in favour of a twin-turbo V8. Yet power is increased, with an output in excess of 560bhp promised. The loss of two cylinders should significantly improve efficiency. While official figures have yet to be released, stop-start will help the new car return more than the previous model’s 19mpg. It should also emit less than 255g/km of CO2.
However, the extra low-down torque offered by the turbos should make the M5 more usable day to day. The powerplant is hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that delivers quicker changes in manual mode, plus smoother, less jerky progress when cruising in auto.
There’s a subtle aggression to the styling. A trio of gaping honeycomb grilles now sits below the grille at the front, while at the rear, a neat diffuser, razor-thin bootlid spoiler and quad exhausts mark out the flagship from lesser variants. Even the colour – an elegant 'Chrome Shadow' – plays down the car’s performance potential.
A clearer indication of the M5’s power comes from the huge 20-inch alloys, which sit flush with the flared front arches. The M Division has also refined the suspension set-up, and extensive testing at the famous NÃ¼rburgring circuit in Germany should ensure sharp handling.
The rear axle uses an ‘Active M’ differential to prevent loss of traction in slippery conditions and when accelerating out of corners. The model on display in Shanghai is officially a concept, but the production version will take its bow at September’s Frankfurt show – and should be virtually unchanged. The saloon goes on sale in November, with an estate likely to follow. Prices are set to start from £65,000.