Reinvented super-saloon hits the track as M division steps up its electrification push
BMW’s M performance car division will give the seventh-generation BMW M5 a new hybrid drivetrain that is set to boost its reserves to “over 700bhp” and offer “limited electric drive compatibility”, a source close to the German car maker has confirmed.
Due on sale in 2024, the new super-saloon is among a series of M models that will switch from a conventional petrol engine to plug-in hybrid power in a move that will provide it with a hike in power and performance.
Details remain scarce just under two years out from the new M5’s launch, but Autocar has received information that suggests it will adopt a rear-mounted electric motor among a raft of major engineering changes.
The in-house-produced synchronous unit is claimed to operate in combination with a further-developed version of BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine used by today’s sixth-generation BMW M5 and codenamed the S63.
The adoption of the electric motor is set to increase the M5’s reserves by more than 200bhp and up to 220lb ft to somewhere in the region of 790bhp and over 737lb ft of torque.
As with today’s BMW M5, drive will be channelled through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, while a fully variable xDrive four-wheel drive system will bring a distinctive rear-biased apportioning of power in the car’s more performance-focused driving modes.
Early installations of the drivetrain in prototype versions of the new M car are said to use a lithium ion battery similar in capacity to the 12.0kWh unit found in the BMW 545e xDrive. Mounted low beneath the rear seat, it operates at 354V and can be charged at up to 11kW.
Whether it will be used for production versions of the next M5 remains to be seen, although suggestions are that BMW M is developing its own performance battery with ultra-rapid discharge properties.
Captured in these exclusive photographs testing on roads around BMW M’s headquarters on the outskirts of Munich in Germany, the next M5 also adopts a heavily reworked chassis.
Key distinguishing features on the early prototype revealed here include widened front and rear tracks. Further clear giveaways to the new M model’s identity include the performance brake system and quad tailpipes.
The decision to provide the M5 with hybrid power comes after rival Mercedes-AMG launched the GT63 E-Performance 4Matic+. It uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine in combination with a rear-mounted electric motor, developing a combined total of 831bhp and 1023lb ft.
Recent media reports suggested BMW M was planning to equip the next M5 with a pure-electric drivetain. Although this has been ruled out, Autocar can confirm that BMW M is planning its own version of the upcoming i5 EV saloon, which is likely to be called i5 M60.
BMW M’s first two electric models, the BMW i4 M50 and iX M60, are now on sale in the UK.