Next-Generation BMW M5 Spied Testing, Packs All-Wheel Drive

The first all-wheel-drive BMW M5.

Just like rivals Audi and Mercedes-AMG, BMW M GmbH is spreading all-wheel drive across its lineup. The next-generation BMW M5 sedan will adopt all-wheel drive, as seen on a current-gen M5 prototype caught testing in the snow earlier this year. Now we have an even better look at the next BMW M5 thanks to these new spy shots. Our photographers spotted a prototype of the car testing in a more traditional environment sporting the distinctive quad exhaust pipes, aggressive front bumper, and cross-drilled rotors seen on other M cars.

While the new M5 will have all-wheel drive, don't expect it to lose all of the pure driving characteristics that made the previous generations so enthralling. In an interview with AUTOMOBILE at the 2015 Detroit auto show, BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel discussed a rear-biased approach. "If we were to do a four-wheel drive [car], it should be rear-wheel drive with traction, as I like to say," Meel said. "It needs to drive like an M should drive. If that were possible with four-wheel drive, to get those vehicle dynamics, then it would be suitable for us."

The current BMW M5, which has been on sale since the 2012 model year, features a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 pushing out a substantial 560 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. There's no word yet on the next-generation's powerplant, but a V-8 is still extremely likely, with horsepower brought up to right around 600 hp (as was offered on the limited-run M5 30th Anniversary package). With few exceptions, the M5 has historically had a larger engine with more cylinders than the contemporary M3, meaning a variant of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engine from the M3/M4 is unlikely to power the next BMW super-sedan.

Taking a page from the upcoming BMW 7 Series' book, the next 5 Series will utilize carbon fiber, carbon-reinforced plastics, and aluminum to shed substantial weight from the chassis. This will result in a faster and more nimble M5 -- not that the current car isn't already an impressive driving machine.

The next-gen BMW M5 should make its official debut later this year or earlier next year. In the meantime, take a look at the first all-wheel-drive BMW M5 in the photo gallery below.