BMW has officially lifted the lid on its hi-po hero car the 2018 M5, revealing not only its pumped bodywork for the first time (leaks notwithstanding), but a slew of key stats that put the ballistic Bavarian eye-to-eye with its arch-nemesis the Mercedes-AMG E63 S.
The most important number is 3.4 – the amount of seconds the new M5 needs to reach 100km/h from standstill.
Credit the M5’s all-paw drivetrain for that one – the M5 may have turned its back on 32 years of rear-drive history, but the upshot is a massive 0.8 second reduction in the 100km/h sprint compared to the superseded model.
And 3.4 seconds also happens to be precisely how long the E63 S needs to achieve the same feat. The gap widens ever so slightly from here, though, as the M5 ticks over to 200km/h in 11.1 seconds to beat the E63 S by 0.3 seconds.
Yet the M5 achieves those figures by using less power and less torque, with its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 – a development of the outgoing M5’s engine – generating 441kW and 750Nm. Stout numbers, but they’re 9kW and 100Nm down on what the AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo bent-eight cracks out.
The secret sauce is its weight. At 1855kg empty it’s still a heavy beast, but the new M5, despite the addition of all-wheel drive (dubbed M xDrive by BMW’s M performance division) actually weighs 15kg less than its predecessor. It also tips the scales more than 150kg under the E63 S, which explains how the less powerful M5 is not only able to keep up with, but also eventually outrun its rival.
Central to the M5’s weight loss programme is a diet that replaces the conventional steel roof with a carbon-fibre item (just like the smaller BMW M4) and adds a lightweight exhaust system to link the brawny V8 up front with the quad tailpipes at the rear.
And if you tick the box for the M5’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes you can also cleave off a further 23kg of unsprung weight – not to mention gain motorsport-grade braking hardware and gleaming gold calipers.
Other M5-specific features include a unique front bumper that not only looks meaner than a run-of-the-mill M Sport kitted 5 Series, but features vents big enough to keep the M5’s plethora of heat exchangers fed a constant supply of cool air. The front guards also pick up a vent behind the front wheels, the side mirrors sprout the signature inboard ‘winglet’ seen on the M3 and M4, and a ducktail bootlid spoiler and unique rear bumper round out the rest of the visual changes.
19-inch alloys will be standard overseas with 20-inch rollers optional, though Australian-market specifications have yet to be announced – and likely won’t be until much closer to its local arrival sometime around the middle of next year.
But we already know plenty about its capabilities. Besides the key specs announced today, we’ve already been privy to the fact this M5 will differ markedly from the car that came before it. The move to all-wheel drive is an obvious one, but there’s also the absence of a twin-clutch automatic between the new M5’s front footwells – this time around, the M5 trades the old car’s 7-speed dual clutch for a more conventional eight-speed hydraulic automatic.
The driveline is essentially a hopped-up version of what you’ll find under an X5 M or X6 M – BMW M’s only other all-wheel drive models. Unlike those cars, however, the M5 will feature a rear-drive-only mode that sends all power to the back axles exclusively. A not-insignificant concession to the world’s well-heeled hoons.
Keep it in AWD mode, though, and the torque distribution calibration is designed to make it feel like a traditional RWD M car. Want to know what it feels like? Have a read of our prototype preview drive.
There’s also electric power steering that’s tuned for high response, a torque-vectoring differential and unique suspension geometry with bespoke spring/damper settings. The standard brake package is also beefed up to help rein in the M5’s 1.8-tonne bulk.
Local pricing and details are still to be announced, but the numbers announced today well and truly throw down the gauntlet to BMW M's rivals in Affalterbach. All we need now is the next-gen Audi RS 6 to join the party…