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Preview: 2013 BMW M5


After a two year hiatus, BMW’s über-sedan returns next summer with two less cylinders, two more turbochargers and a lot more sophistication. 

The F1 inspired V-10 from the previous generation is gone and is replaced by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 that makes 560-hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. Not only is this a 53-hp jump from the previous M5, but it is the most powerful engine BMW has ever produced.

While some M purists might gawk at the idea of an M5 with turbochargers, they’ll be blown away by the fact that the engine reaches peak torque as low as 1500 RPM, and it stays flat all the way to 5750 RPM. This will give the M5 near instantaneous power delivery, so not only will the new M5 be faster by performance metrics, but it is also going to feel much faster thanks to the more usable torque.

Speaking of performance metrics, BMW says the M5 will get to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds. 

However, BMW is usually a little conservative in performance figures and the M5 should have no trouble getting to 60 in under 4 seconds.  

The top speed is limited to 155 mph unless you opt for the Driver’s Package where the limit is raised to 190 mph – perfect for chasing down ambulances.

The M5 employs some advanced engine features that BMW calls “M TwinPower Turbo” technology. This not only includes the twin-scroll turbochargers, but a unique cross-bank exhaust manifold, direct injection, variable valve control and a fully variable camshaft. 

The cross-bank exhaust manifold is unique in the fact that it places the turbochargers and the catalytic convertors in the V shaped space between the cylinder banks. This allows for compact packaging and also shortens pipe length to the turbochargers, which should almost eliminate turbo lag.

The M5 also gains some efficiency boosters from BMW’s Efficient Dynamics program with things like an auto start-stop function and brake energy regeneration. As a result, the M5 is expected to burn 30 percent less fuel than its predecessor.

Official EPA numbers have not been released yet, but based on the European test cycle you can expect average fuel economy to be in the low 20’s range. This isn’t too shabby for a car that weighs over 4,000 pounds with 560-hp.

The engine is mated to a seven speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can be shifted manually with either the gear selector or paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It comes with a launch control function that is enabled when the stability control is turned off and will make even the most inexperienced driver feel like a drag champ. 

There is no word yet on if BMW will also offer a manual transmission. Let’s just hope that BMW doesn’t go the way of a lot of other premium brands and forget the purists who need a third pedal. 

In keeping with an elegant design, BMW made very subtle changes to the M5 from the lesser 5 series and every design modification has a purpose. 

Up front, the M5’s air dam has larger air intakes whose size and form are tailored to provide maximum cooling. There is also a front lip and air-channeling flaps to manage airflow underneath the car.

The wheel arches have been flared in order to accommodate the wider track and are filled out nicely with the lightweight 19-inch wheels or optional 20-inchers.  

Classic M design cues have also been added like fender vents, black slat kidney grilles and the unmistakable quad tailpipes. 

Other exterior modifications include lower side skirts and a gurney-style rear spoiler that were both designed for better aerodynamics.

Being a German car, the M5’s chassis was extensively tested on the Nürburgring and was tuned accordingly. With the new found power and chassis design, the M5 has a good chance to beat the venerable eight minute mark at the famed track. 

When the owner is not on the Nürburgring however, they can select from three different settings for the electronically controlled dampers which come as standard equipment. With just the touch of a button the driver can change from the everyday comfort mode which absorbs the road’s bumps and provides a smooth ride to the race ready “Sport Plus” setting that stiffens up the suspension for maximum performance. There is also “Sport” setting for those who want a happy medium between the two.

A base price has yet to be stated, but most expect it be around $90,000. This isn’t cheap considering the M5’s biggest rival, the 556-hp Cadillac CTS-V, costs more than $20,000 less. The CTS-V also beat the previous generation M5 in almost every performance category, including a faster track time around the Nürburgring at 7 minutes 59 seconds, making it the fastest production sedan at the time (it has since been passed by the Porsche Panamera Turbo).

But the M5 has always had the perfect balance of refinement and performance. A legacy that the new BMW M5 should have no trouble living up to.