The big news is that the new M5 has a twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine; its predecessor had a naturally aspirated V10. With 552bhp, the new engine has around 10% more power. In fact, it’s the most powerful ever in a production BMW.
There’s 502lb ft of torque (an increase of more than 30%), available from just 1500rpm. Power goes to the rear wheels, through a seven-speed ‘M DCT’ twin-clutch transmission.
BMW quotes a 0-62mph time of 4.4 seconds – 0.3 seconds quicker than its predecessor, but average fuel consumption has been improved by more than 30% to 28.5mpg and CO2 emissions have been cut to 232g/km. An engine stop-start system and brake energy regeneration system now come as standard.
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As before, there are a range of high-tech electronic aids to help the M5 handle as well as possible and allow the driver to tailor the way the car drives. There are three settings for both the steering and the electronically controlled suspension, which allow the driver to choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings, depending on the road and conditions. There’s also an electronically controlled limited-slip differential that helps to maximise traction through corners.
On the outside, the M5 is all-but identical to the M5 concept car unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in April. Think 5 Series on steroids and you’re about there; there are bulging wings and bonnet, gaping air vents, a rear diffuser and twin exhaust tailpipes at each side of the rear. A subtle bootlid lip helps create extra downforce at speed and there’s a choice of 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels.
The interior has a similarly sporty makeover. There are bespoke M Sport seats, unique metal trim, M5 badges and Merino leather upholstery. Standard kit includes a head-up display, DAB digital radio, four-zone climate control, xenon headlights and sat-nav.