THE NEXT-GEN BMW M5 is already out on the prowl in prototype form, with nearly 480kW and all-wheel drive rumoured to be part of the completely redesigned Bavarian ‘bahn-storming sedan's armoury.
Created specifically to keep the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S and Audi RS6 on their toes (not to mention the upcoming Jaguar XFR-S), the high-performance flagship of the G30 5 Series − to be codenamed G8 − has been sprung doing the rounds near BMW HQ in Munich, as well as at the Nurburgring circuit, even though it won't likely make dealerships until 2017 at the earliest. That explains the heavy camo hiding all the juicy details.
However, those quad exhausts do suggest another V8, with the existing F10 M5’s cracking 4.4-litre twin-turbo/seven-speed dual-clutch drivetrain combo (also used in the BMW X5M and X6M) speculated to be carrying over, albeit in highly modified guise to eke out even more power and torque outputs than the respective 423kW and 680Nm currently transmitted to the rear axle. To satiate American demand, a manual gearbox is also said to be in the works, though it is not known if the latter will make it to Australian-bound G80s.While the newcomer will most likely mirror the existing four-year old design dimensionally, talk persists that overall length may actually shrink a little. Certainly, the test M5 doesn't seem any larger.
The best guide to how the seventh-generation 5 Series sedan will look like is by taking a gander at the G11/12 BMW 7 Series luxo barge that surfaced in early June, as both adopt BMW’s latest design language.
The similarities will also extend underneath, with carbonfibre, aluminium, and even magnesium said to be extensively deployed beneath the M5 to keep the kilos off; since both the next 5 Series and new 7 Series share a whole lot of underbody architecture, it is reasonable to expect weight falls of up to 130kg or more. We’ve even heard of a 200kg mass cut…That's great news, because the resulting power-to-weight ratio improvement should see the next M5 easily breach the sub-4.0 second 0-100km/h barrier, particularly if the circa-480kW rumours are true.
If the G80 M5 does offer AWD, it will most probably be based on the rear-drive biased xDrive system serving the X5M/X6M, though it is hard to believe BMW wouldn't prioritise RWD for one of its most enduring performance icons.
With the regular G30 5 Series range expected to debut sometime later next year (the September 2016 Paris show is a sound bet), the new M5’s exact launch timing is anybody’s guess at this stage.
The current F20 BMW M5 kicks off from $229,930, so expect its successor to start from similar money.
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