After more than a year of speculation and anticipation, BMW has finally lifted the lid on its fifth-generation M5.

An aggressive front bar and rear diffuser, hallmark M side gills, flared wheelarches to emphasise the wider track, and 19-inch M light-alloy wheels with large-pizza-size discs and blue-painted rotors, define BMW’s latest-gen full-size sports sedan.

Using the F10 5 Series as its base, BMW’s M division has wicked the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 to a mighty 412kW and 680Nm. Traditionalists will bemoan the loss of the high-revving V10, but this new twin-huffer donk produces peak power from 6000-7000rpm and maximum twist across an astonishingly broad 1500-5750rpm. Allied with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and transferring drive to the 295/35 R19 back wheels via M’s variable sports differential, the V8 motivates the 1870kg M5 to 100km/h in a claimed 4.4 seconds.

Since economy and emissions are the primary reason BMW is replacing its high-revving naturally-aspirated line-up of M engines with smaller-capacity turbocharged units, the new turbo-V8 M5 is rated at 9.9L/100km combined, compared with 14.8L/100km for the old 373kW/520Nm atmo V10-engined M5. Stop-start and brake energy regeneration tech are standard on the new car.

Like its M3 sibling, the new M5 scores an Active M Differential, which varies distribution of drive to the rear wheels by 0 and 100 percent. Electronically-controlled adaptive dampers, variable-ratio hydraulic power steering and six-piston front (400 x 36mm) and rear (396 x 24mm) brakes also feature.

BMW’s M Drive system now includes two driver preset buttons located on the steering wheel. The adaptive dampers can be switched between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes; the variable-ratio power steering offers separate Comfort (slower), Sport (quicker-ratio) and Sport Plus (quicker, heavier) options; the stability control can be switched to a less-intrusive mode or turned off completely; and the seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box offers D1, D2, S1, S2 and S3 presets, progressively upping shift speed and aggression. A full manual mode with paddle shifts is also available.

The previous-gen M5 V10 was criticised in some circles for lacking low-down torque, yet others loved its great-sounding high-revving nature. In the new M5, there’s torque aplenty, but we’re hoping for a great soundtrack to match.

Come 2012 we’ll know for sure, but E63 AMG and XF-R won’t have it good for much longer…