BMW’s biturbo V8 petrol electric next M5 is limbering up
To many people, the BMW M5 has always been the King of Super Saloons. A four-door five-seat sedan with the go to destroy Ferraris and Porsches, et al from the lights, or anywhere else, it’s the original super saloon. And it likes to stay the best of them. Auto tested the current model M5 Competition at 2.9 seconds to 100 km/h. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
But the world, she is a changing. Which means that the BMW M5 must fit into this squeaky green realm, or you know what they say, f… off. So, the next M5 is going to be a so-called performance plug-in hybrid when it duly arrives next year. It’s a big change. they’re testing it like hell, and there are plenty test mules running about the Nürburgring and elsewhere.
A SEDUCTIVE NEXT M5 STRIPTEASE
To begin, as happens with most test mules, the carmakers tease us by slowly stripping off the disguise. So, we’ve obliged by photoshopping the rest of it off, to reveal the red car in the two renderings above. We’re pretty sure it will look very much like that in the flesh too. Time will tell, but for us, and likely you too, it’s what’s under the skin that intrigues us most about the next BMW M5.
We’ve been pretty well on it when it comes to predicting what comes next in M5. We love them all and we know how BMW M thinks. So it’s pretty easy to forecast. We aced our call on the 500 horse 500 Nm 5 litre V10 twenty years ago. We got the first turbo V8 previous car pretty well spot on. And we were right on the button with the current AWD car, too. That one had to happen.
And now, we are faced with predicting what the next M5 will be all about. Our famous crystal ball has already spat that skin out. But what can we expect from under it? Well, that’s not very difficult to imagine, considering BMW M has only just let its gargantuan ‘M flagship’ XM details out the bag. A plug-in hybrid, it has a 360 kW biturbo V8 working in tandem with a 145 kW electric motor ‘drive system.’
NEXT M5: WHAT’S UNDER THE SKIN?
Said to be supremely agile and dynamic, this weight-saving fifth-generation BMW M eDrive technology hybrid system generates power levels normally achieved by a far larger unit. It has a 280 Nm permanently excited synchronous electric motor integrated to BMW’s 8-speed M Steptronic transmission and pre-geared to deliver 450 Nm.
Now it would be blasé to accept that the M5 will just have the regular XM’s combined 480kW 800 Nm 4.4-litre V8-based plug-in petrol electric power unit. No sir, no ma’am, that will hardly cut it in the next edition of the finest super saloon on the road. That’s hardly more than the existing M5 Competition’s 460 kW and 750 Nm form its biturbo V8 alone, anyway. Never mind the 467 kW M5 CS.
Which leads us contend that the standard next M5 will have closer to the forthcoming limited-edition flagship XM Label Red’s 548 kW 1000 Nm power unit. That courtesy of a biturbo V8 (hold the thought) coupled at the tote with a beefy electric motor propelled by a 25.7-kWh battery pack and also good for about 50 km of electric-only range off a full charge. Mean. And green.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NEXT M5 COMPETITION?
But wait, that’s not all. What about the next BMW M5 Competition? Now for this we must remove our BMW blinkers and look outside the Bavarian box. And directly at Mercedes-AMG’s biturbo 4-litre V8 plug-in hybrid GT 63 S E Performance. The one with an electric motor on the rear axle, just in case. The one with 620 kW and ‘more than 1,400 Nm’ on tap.
Do not for one moment believe that BMW M will let that mark ride with its next M5 Competition Performance Hybrid. See, that’s why we know we can expect around 630 kw and 1,500 Nm from the new Beemer. These Germans don’t like to be done by mere rivals. Especially compatriots on the other side of the forest. Understand?
But wait, there’s more. The Germans are telling us that BMW is also in the process of re-engineering its faithful 4.4-liter biturbo M V8 to meet draconian forthcoming Euro 7 emissions standards, without resorting to water injection.
THE V8 ENGINE WILL BE IMPROVED TOO
The BMW M V8 is a ‘hot vee’ engine. Its twin turbochargers nestle in the middle between the two cylinder banks. The engine will now be tweaked to better take advantage of natural four stroke pulses. To deliver improved boost, refined response, and rapid torque build-up more efficiently. Whatever the engine speed.
It remains to be seen if BMW M opts for the further advantages offered by way of an electrically assisted engine charger. As Mercedes and AMG do. The next M5 will already have the necessary higher voltage plug-in hybrid electrical system in place to run such a system, by the way.
Delving deeper into this new M eDrive hybrid system and reading between the lines, BMW is taking its electric drive in through that new transmission integrated electric motor. Which means that the entire all-wheel drive system will benefit the advantage of full electric and combustion power. It will not be a hotch-potch of e-power here, piston drive there.
AND THEN THE REST OF NEXT M5
The car’s onboard charger should fill the next BMW M5’s battery in three hours at 7.4 kW. The hybrid gubbins and battery needed to run a powerful electric motor for 50 kilometres will add weight. That is however offset be the extra power and torque advantages that the system will bring. But the naturally heavier hybrid car will by nature surely still lose a modicum of that famous M5 agility.
Expect a high-end cabin with a large, curved display digital crossing most of the dash. It will show both driver’s instruments, and BMW’s latest iDrive 8 on-board infotainment interface. With CarPlay, Auto, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, charging station and premium stereo. Add vintage-look leather, dramatic fibre-optic lighting, and the kitchen sink among the regular M5 level standard and optional luxury features. Made from fisherman’s toenails.
Former BMW M boss Markus Flasch summed the next King of Super Saloons up quite succinctly a year or two back. “We want to use high-performance hybrid technology from our long-distance racing for the next M5.” That’s pretty exciting all on its own. The next BMW M5 will be with us sometime next year. – Michele Lupini
Sketches by Michele Lupini