For the first time since its inception in 1984, the BMW M5 is arriving with turbochargers. The move might seem like heresy for a brand known for high-revving engines, but recall that M Division has already applied forced induction to the 1 Series M Coupe, X5 M, and X6 M. Switching to a smaller, more advanced powertrain means the new M5 can deliver 30-percent better fuel economy than its predecessor, while boasting 10 percent more power and 30 percent more torque.
For now BMW has released information only on the European model, but we’re told it’s almost identical to the M5 that will bow in the U.S. Look for an update with any equipment or trim changes that may apply to our M5 early next week.
The new, fifth-generation M5 finds motivation in the form of a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 4.4-liter V-8. In American specification, the engine provides 555 hp from 6000 to 7000 rpm, with 500 lb-ft of torque delivered all the way from 1500 to 5750 rpm. It revs to 7200 rpm.
The last M5 packed a 5.0-liter V-10, rated at 500 hp and 383 lb-ft, which provided a BMW-endorsed 0-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds. The 2012 M5 not only trumps those power ratings, but also rockets to the benchmarks a few ticks faster: BMW says the new car will reach 62 mph in 4.4 seconds, and 124 mph in just 13.0 seconds. In typical German fashion, maximum velocity is limited to 155 mph, but opting for the M Driver’s Pack increases the limit to 190 mph.
Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, known as M DCT in BMW parlance. It offers a variety of automatic shift programs, as well as fully manual gear changes effected by nudging the shift lever or pulling on the wheel-mounted paddles, plus a Launch Control mode. The American market is also slated to receive an optional six-speed manual transmission, though it’s unknown whether that version will come with Launch Control. Despite earlier rumors, there are no plans for an all-wheel-drive M5.