The BMW M5 is back, and it's not taking any threats from AMG lying down.
It wasn't so long ago that BMW had the mid-sized sport sedan segment all to itself. In the early noughties, nothing Mercedes or Audi built came close to the level of everyday usability and monstrous yet accessible performance that the E39 M5 provided. The V10-powered E60 moved the game on again in 2005, but by this time Mercedes was gaining ground. AMG-fettled E Classes became more than E320s with a big V8 dropped into the nose. They became true high performance sedans with their own unique character and crushing performance. Fast forward to 2011, and now the E63 AMG is the sport sedan to have in an M5-less world.
But now the M5 is returning. Don't let the concept designation of the car you see above fool you. If past M concepts are anything to go by, then what you see above is about 95% of what you will see when the M5 lands in showrooms. The new-generation 5 Series wears the standard M aero additions well. The front fascia sports three gaping intakes, while the rear has the requisite M quad exhaust and subtle trunk-mounted lip spoiler.
Power will be provided by the turbocharged V8 that was ushered in by the X5M and X6M. No official word on power yet, but it's said that it will approach 600 bhp. All this will be put to the rear wheels via a highly modified version of BMW's seven speed M Sport double clutch transmission and a multiplate Active M differential. There's been much hemming and hawing over the turbocharging of the M division, but BMW promises that this V8 will have a suitably revvy character.
This will also be more economical M5. Thanks in part to Auto Start Stop functionality, it will deliver improved fuel economy and lower emissions over its predecessor.
The 2012 M5 will go on sale in Europe in Fall of this year and Spring 2012 in North America. We can expect to learn much more about the new M5 between now and then, but the real test will come when it squares off against its rival from AMG. We can't wait.