Automotive

BMW M5 evolves with switchable four-wheel drive

The new BMW M5 will be automatic only 
The new BMW M5 will be automatic only 
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The new BMW M5 will be all-wheel drive
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The new BMW M5 will be all-wheel drive
The new M5 will come with a twin-turbo V8
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The new M5 will come with a twin-turbo V8
The M5 will be able to take it to the Mercedes E63 AMG
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The M5 will be able to take it to the Mercedes E63 AMG
The four-wheel drive system in the M5 can be locked in rear-drive
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The four-wheel drive system in the M5 can be locked in rear-drive
The BMW M5 is designed to shine on the racetrack 
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The BMW M5 is designed to shine on the racetrack 
BMW gets the M5 sideways on the track 
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BMW gets the M5 sideways on the track 
The M5 can be toggled through 4WD, 4WD Sport and RWD modes
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The M5 can be toggled through 4WD, 4WD Sport and RWD modes
The new M5 breaks the tradition of rear-driven BMW M cars 
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The new M5 breaks the tradition of rear-driven BMW M cars 
The new M5 is a direct response to the Mercedes E63 AMG
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The new M5 is a direct response to the Mercedes E63 AMG
The new M5 will still drift even though it's all-wheel drive 
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The new M5 will still drift even though it's all-wheel drive 
BMW will whip the camouflage off the new M5 later this year 
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BMW will whip the camouflage off the new M5 later this year 
The rear-end of the M5 gets loose on the track 
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The rear-end of the M5 gets loose on the track 
BMW will let you configure the M5 through the iDrive system 
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BMW will let you configure the M5 through the iDrive system 
2WD makes the M5 into a drifter
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2WD makes the M5 into a drifter
The new BMW M5 will be automatic only 
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The new BMW M5 will be automatic only 
A totally naked BMW M5 gets sideways 
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A totally naked BMW M5 gets sideways 
The BMW CIU is tasked with controlling the central differential 
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The BMW CIU is tasked with controlling the central differential 
The transfer case in the BMW M5 is in charge of shuffling power between the axles 
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The transfer case in the BMW M5 is in charge of shuffling power between the axles 
The M5 still has an active rear differential 
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The M5 still has an active rear differential 
Under the skin of the BMW M5 
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Under the skin of the BMW M5 

The BMW M5 is a motoring icon, but it's up against increasingly stiff competition. Mercedes has turned the E63 AMG into a turbocharged supercar in sedan clothing, and the current M5 doesn't have the firepower to keep up. Now, BMW is delivering a fresh take on the M5 formula with all-wheel drive, a twin-turbocharged V8 and all the electronic wizardry you could ask for.

BMW has nobly defended the virtues of rear-wheel drive in its performance cars, but an escalation in the power wars has forced it to develop a new version of its xDrive all-wheel drive system. In its most powerful iteration, the current M5 sends 560 hp (418 kW) to the rear wheels, and the new E63 AMG comfortably outdoes that figure in base trim, let alone 612-hp (450-kW) AMG S guise.

The new M5, which will be launched later this year, is expected to match that figure (at an absolute minimum), and putting all that power to the road in anything other than ideal conditions, using anything other than race-spec rubber simply isn't feasible. Before you get too disappointed about the switch to four-wheel drive, keen drivers will be able to switch through three different drive modes.

Under the skin of the BMW M5 
Under the skin of the BMW M5 

BMW says this capability comes courtesy of a clever central transfer case and the active M differential on the rear axle. The system is capable of sending 100 percent of the power to either axle as the situation demands, or locking itself into rear-wheel drive when the driver demands.

The system prioritizes traction in standard 4WD mode, before allowing a bit more movement in 4WD Sport mode. BMW says the system has been tuned for lightning lap times on the race track, and will make it much easier to put the engine's turbocharged torque to the road out of tight corners. Wannabe drifters will want to slot the car into 2WD mode, which sends 100 percent of the engine's power to the back wheels for some good-old fashioned smoky fun. Mercedes will also let you do this in the E63 AMG, although it calls the same thing "Drift Mode."

Along with clever switchable drivetrain, BMW has thrown the computational kitchen sink at the gearbox. The eight-speed automatic has three separate shift modes, and can be set up to mooch around town or, when the time is right, slam home the gears like a racing car. Holding the left-hand paddle forces the gearbox to grab the lowest ratio possible, a feature first featured in the Porsche 911 GT3. There will be no manual option, but that's not a huge surprise.

The transfer case in the BMW M5 is in charge of shuffling power between the axles 
The transfer case in the BMW M5 is in charge of shuffling power between the axles 

The high-tech focus extends to the interior as well. BMW says the instrument binnacle is clearer and easier to read, and the heads-up display has been made 70 percent larger than before. Information about gear position, drive mode and shift program is displayed on the screen between the speedo and rev counter.

"The new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road – and in various weather conditions, too," says Frank van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M.

You can check out the new M5 in the video below.

Source: BMW

The new BMW M5 with M xDrive.

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