The horsepower war between German rivals BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz rages on. BMW’s latest weapon is the brand-new 2018 M5. The specifications sheet suggests it’s capable of sending chills down the Mercedes-AMG E63’s spine. It’s priced to compete, too.
The M5 carries on with a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine. It makes an even 600 horsepower between 5,600 and 6,700 rpm and 553 pound-feet of torque over a broad range that stretches between 1,800 and 5,600 rpm. In comparison, the outgoing model‘s eight-cylinder posts figures of 560 and 500, respectively, although BMW has pushed that out to 600 hp and 516 lb-ft in special-edition models. An eight-speed automatic transmission helps the M5 achieve a 3.2-second 0-to-60-mph run. You can reach 189 mph if you’re brave — and if you have enough tarmac at your disposal.
The 2018 M5 is the first to feature all-wheel drive, rather than rear-wheel drive. That might upset purists, but the M5’s all-wheel drive system is set up to let the car behave like a rear-wheel drive vehicle most of the time by sending more of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. If that isn’t enough, and if extra traction isn’t needed, the driver can even decouple the front axle completely. Another first that will send purists howling to the moon is that this M5 is automatic only. The manual gearbox option was nixed because the take rate is getting lower every year.
The entire roof panel is made out of carbon fiber to help offset the weight added by the components of the all-wheel drive system. BMW tells us it has also designed a lighter exhaust system for the same reason.
Stylistically speaking, the 2018 M5 follows the same design pattern as previous versions. Changes over the garden-variety 5 Series are fairly subtle, and include a more muscular-looking front fascia with vents that feed extra cooling air to the engine compartment, trademark fender vents, and a rear diffuser flanked by quad exhaust outlets. Model-specific 19-inch alloy wheels that let us peek at the humongous brakes round out the major changes.
Most of the interior also carries over from the standard 5 Series. The M badge brings with it sport seats for the front passengers, race car-esque buttons on the steering wheel used to configure driving-related parameters, and a short gear selector. Leather upholstery comes standard.
Enthusiasts can take the new 2018 BMW M5 for a virtual spin in EA Games’ Need for Speed Payback. The real car is tentatively scheduled to arrive in showrooms in the spring. Pricing starts at $102,600 before a mandatory $995 destination charge is factored in.
Updated by Ronan Glon: Added pricing information.
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