We have seen it hinted and teased and glossily presented all over the internet, so we flew ourselves to the Nürburgring 24-hour affair and got all over her. Of course, we're talking about the long-awaited F10, or fifth-generation, M5 from BMW. The big news is that it will likely be priced at just eight percent above the starting sticker of the last-generation V10-powered E60 M5. Make that a cool $92,000. Then add M bells and whistles.
We know most of the details in the general sense. (The assembled BMW development bosses were all bragging about how much they had driven it already around the Nürburgring and Hockenheimring, and all those other 'Rings we don't get daily access to. Dirty dogs.) A 553-horsepower, 4.4-liter Twin-Power Turbo V8 shared with the X5 M and X6 M behemoths, plus the small matter of 500 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 and 5,750 rpm. Redline is now right around 7,200 rpm instead of the discontinued E60 M5's V10 that smacked us around at 8,250.
Versus the predecessor, which ceased production way back in December 2009, power is up by roughly 10 percent, torque by 30 percent, and fuel efficiency also by a whalloping 30 percent. "Drive it on the autobahn at full unrestricted speed around 180 miles per hour," says the F10 M5's project leader, Albert Biermann, "and certainly those efficiency numbers suffer. But our engineers drove the F10 every day to and from home some weeks, and have realized all of these better numbers."
Read the full details about the F10 M5 after the jump.
The F10 can get to 60 mph in a quoted 4.2 seconds, but we foresee some perfect-condition days in our future where we can threaten the four-second-flat threshold. "There is so much more torque and power available for more of the collective rev band," says Biermann, "that it really can put the E60 in the shade a bit." We cannot wait to try the Launch Control in the most aggressive S3 setting of the M-DCT dual-clutch transmission. A Nürburgring lap in the E60 managed to get as quick as 8:13, but the base F10 has already run a 7:55 in the most talented hands of hardened Green Hell drivers.
More than anything else, though, director Biermann told Autoblog in our trackside interview that this M5, much like the E39 third-generation car, needs to cover the bases of both track animal and everyday driver.
"This is due in part to the basic business case of the M5," says Biermann. "This car, more than any other M car, must do all of these things and do them really well." This is why the M-DCT tranny has D1, D2, and D3 comfort settings, then three similar settings for the correspondingly biting S level of shifting. There are two M Drive buttons now on the steering wheel – theoretically, one for a personalized sport setup and another for more compliant calibrations, for when it starts to rain or what have you.
As opposed to the "S63" as its known in the M-badged X5 and X6, the engine here is actually referred to as "S63tü" and is quicker to reply to throttle under all conditions. The two twin-scroll turbos' max PSI boost pressure has been raised from 18.9 psi to 21.8 psi. In addition to low-rev torque-happy double VANOS intake and exhaust variable valve action, we see Valvetronic valvetrain management for the first time on an M car. On the M steering wheel, the mounted shift paddles follow a standard, sequential pattern, which is to say the right paddle shifts up and the left shifts down (the way it should be). Gear ratios are much longer overall in order to smooth things out when in the not-as-sporty modes of the various settings.
For stop-and-go traffic, there is now a formalized Low Speed Assistance program that monitors the transmission and throttle behavior to keep your day from feeling like you've got the yips. A very welcome real-world software inclusion, indeed.
Dynamic Damper Control is standard here and it takes you from Comfort to Sport to Sport Plus at the push of a button. This is certainly good to have in light of the fact that the roughly 4,200-pound F10 M5 could sure feel like a porker if not properly corralled by the M-specific underpinnings. Also to handle this Big Betty, the Active M electronic rear axle differential offers improved torque vectoring. But fear never; burnout photos are going to populate the web like gnats on a sweaty baseball cap.
The steering remains basically untouched. It is still mostly left up to mechanics with just the right amount of modulation from the three-mode Servotronic. "If you lead off by saying electronic steering in an M car," says Biermann, "the clients, how do you say, feel funny about that." Very funny, indeed.
When we see these optional 20-inch forged M-specific alloys on the chassis that is lowered all around by half an inch, we must say that we like the looks, and we're sure the overall dynamics will reflect that when we drive this thing in mid-September. The engine hood is all aluminum and bulging. Air intakes are augmented in front and there are more openings along the flanks and out back for air to flow like crazy.
With 30 percent greater efficiency and the 2.6 additional gallons of of fuel tank capacity, long-distance cruising is an honest priority for the F10 M5. The interior is dramatically cleaned up, as well compared to the previous jingle-jangle that was going on. The aluminum look on the car we sat in looks honestly good and grown-up.
Just as Mercedes is using start-stop technology on its AMG trims in North America, BMW will bring the same tech here in the M5. One guilty indulgence we will miss: no M5 Touring is planned this time around (not that it would have been offered Stateside, anyway). Some 21,500 or so of the E60 M5 four-doors were sold over its lifetime and BMW definitely sees even more sales in this more versatile 'bahn stormer.
Deliveries in Germany and the rest of western Europe start in December of this year, then in Asia in February of 2012. The actual start of build for federlalized U.S. M5s doesn't start until March of 2012, so that would mean no deliveries until at least early May of next year.
Patience, pals, patience.