When is a sedan a sports car? When it's got a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 pumping out 560 hp between 5750 and 7000 rpm and 500 lb.-ft. of torque between 1500 and 5750 rpm, seven-speed automated dual-clutch gearbox, electronically controlled suspension, differential and steering.
BMW reports the car will get to 100 km/h (or 62 mph) in 4.4 seconds and have a top speed, electronically limited of course, of 155 mph.
The engine itself, while seemingly identical to other S63-powered products (X5 M, X6 M, 750, 550, etc.) features direct injection, dual-twin-scroll turbos and VANOS, BMW's name for variable valve timing. New for the M5, though, is the implementation of Valvetronic, BMW's variable valve lift system, as well. This effectively eliminates the need for a throttle body and improves engine breathing (and therefore efficiency) and response.
As for the suspension, if our experience with other fully-digitized current-specification M products is any indication (M3 coupe and sedan and X6 M as examples), all the electronics in the car--like the Dynamic Damper Control adjustable dampers, multi-mode Dynamic Stability Control and Servotronic, BMW's variable effort steering system--will enable the M5 to ride like a well-sorted touring sedan or a fire-breathing sports car. Multiple Drivelogic maps, BMW's term for how the transmission operates, will be varied enough that shifts will be automatic-transmission smooth or race-car hard. In the highest mode, S3, launch control will be available.
For brakes, BMW went big. Six-piston fixed calipers lurk behind both front and rear 19-in. wheels (265 front and 295 width rear, with 20's as an option) and feature the obligatory ABS and brake fade compensation. The cross-drilled rotors float on radial axial pins. This mitigates the clackity-clack from standard floating rotors while still allowing thermal expansion.
Remember SMG? Remember how it worked at slow speeds? Yeah, not so good. Turns out BMW has an answer for that. Helping the dual- clutch transmission at slow speeds is a function aptly named Low Speed Assistance. This system will smooth out the power delivery at slow speeds for smoother driving.
While burning up tires and impressing your passengers with spectacular cornering forces are what we anticipate most BMW engineers focused on, the car's EfficientDynamics aspect, BMW's term for "greener" vehicle operation, was not neglected. Thus, the new M5 will be equipped with engine start-stop capability, brake energy regeneration (this is when the alternator works overtime to charge the battery on deceleration to minimize alternator drag when the car is in cruise and acceleration modes), and a variable flow oil pump. All told, while the new M5 will produce 10-percent more horsepower and 30-percent more torque over the V10-powered car it replaces, it will also get 30-percent better efficiency.
But this isn't all that makes up a sports car; it's got to look the part too. The M5 aims to one-up its previous fender-flared generation by emphasizing aerodynamic efficiency. The front end features huge lower intakes that help keep the engine cool, and there's even a subtle lower air dam to keep lift to a minimum. Out back, a rear diffuser, although subtle, works to balance the appearance of the car.
So when can you expect to get into this car? How does spring of 2012 sound? While pricing, firm US specifications, EPA ratings and option packages are not yet available, expect to hear more closer to the on-sale-date.