Maybe manufacturers are like people and need to always affirm their individuality. That is why the trend among many brands nowadays is to create a distinctive visual identity and spread it throughout its range. BMW has traditionally followed the line more strictly. For this reason, some say the new 5 Series, introduced in October 2016, is a mini 7 Series. But that’s just a catchy detail.
The BMWs that really matter to enthusiasts may even be half alike, but in compensation the resemblance extends to dynamic behavior: excellent at all. The BMW M2 is a little wonder, considered by the press as superior to the BMW M4 (and, by extension, the M3 sedan). And the BMW 5 Series has always been a benchmark among the German super sedans. The M5 was born to cross the German autobahnen and to turn times in the circuit with the same aplomb. And that was part of the reason he always had rear-wheel drive … until now.
The G30 generation of the 5 Series will soon gain its high-performance version. And the new M5 will be released later this year, probably at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The serious look of the standard versions should gain a bit more aggressiveness, as is standard on the Motorsport models, but it’s the all-wheel-drive that’s the most alarming thing. Really?
As we said yesterday, BMW has already delivered the new M5 in the hands of European and US journalists, still in a pre-production version (but quite close to the final stage of development), a practice that has become common among manufacturers. If the impact at the time of launching the real deal is impaired, we will know later. Let’s not worry about this now, but about what the international press found about the new BMW M5.
To begin with, it should be understood that BMW has long since abandoned full rear-wheel drive fidelity: a four-wheel drive system with viscous couplings in the center and rear differentials has already been available in the 3 Series and 5 Series in the 1980s; And in 2003 the first-generation X3 SUV was the first BMW to use the xDrive system, which since then has been included in the list of options from Series 1 to Series 7, plus utilities X1, X3, X4 and X6.
It is more complicated to accept a four-wheel drive M model, but they also exist – since 2010, we have the X6M, for example, with all-wheel drive. And the BMW 5 Series G30 itself has its all-wheel drive version with Motorsport signature – the M550i xDrive, which has a V8 biturbo of 460 hp and is up to now the fastest 5 Series, being able to reach 100 km / H in just 3.9 seconds.
It was a matter of time, in fact, that the four-wheel drive would reach the M5. Mercedes-AMG E63, Audi RS6 already use it and get along with it. Plus, it’s not as if BMW forces you to have all four-wheel drive all the time: depending on the steering mode you choose (we’ll see more about this later), you can opt for 100% rear-wheel drive whenever you want.
On the other hand, the BMW M5 F90, as it is known internally, will not have manual gearbox and much less double clutch: now the transmission will be a conventional automatic. Or almost.
Of course, an automatic gearbox on the M5 is a concern from a purist / enthusiastic point of view, but in practice the idea works. According to BMW, the automatic gearbox was chosen for being smoother and more efficient than a dual clutch gearbox, for requiring less maintenance and also for having a more relations to keep the engine always in its proper rotation range. In addition, this exchange is used in the BMW M235i race that the brand offers to independent teams. How can she make such swift changes? Because instead of a torque converter, it uses a multi-clutch disc system that couples to the smaller
Basically, the system analyzes the situation of the car in real time and distributes the torque between the axles accordingly. However, BMW was keen to leave the larger percentage of the force to the rear axle. The modes of adjustment are one way of guiding this ratio. But what effect does this have on the way the car is moving?
According to the publication, the four-wheel drive system is “consistent, linear, and predictable”. The new M5 is a fairly soft car, which is able to release the rear with relative ease if you leave the stability control in M Dynamic mode. And in the completely rear-wheel drive mode, you can “make powerslides like a BMW M3 E90”.
According to Motor Trend, this malleability is the big difference between the M5 and the M550i. Even more so than the power difference – which should be above 600 hp (the exact power has not yet been announced by BMW). Speaking of which, the engine of the new M5 is basically the same S63 as the previous M5, but the higher power was obtained with a higher pressure in the fuel injection system, new turbos and a lighter exhaust and with fewer flow restrictions.
The M550i does not have the active differential or the control module and therefore interferes more in the way the car acts. “In M Dynamic mode, as far as the throttle pokes, the rear escapes smoothly without noticeable intervention from the electronic nannies – just an increase in the power to the front axle to make the car a little more neutral.”
The British Autocar share this opinion and go beyond: they believe that this may be one of the best M5 of all time, especially in the configuration 4WD Sport:
This does not mean that the guys found the perfect car. With a prototype, it’s still hard to talk about finishing and life on board, but engine snoring synthesized by the speakers is something that really annoys journalists. “An M model should be able to pass an authentic sound experience,” they say.
Other than that, we will know more about the new BMW M5 in the coming months: it should be launched in Europe at the end of the second half of 2017 and in other markets, starting in the second quarter of 2018.