Informally unveiled at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed, the all-new 2012 BMW M5 officially rolled into the public eye in Frankfurt and will go on sale in Europe shortly. While the U.S. M5 variant won't arrive here until next spring, BMW North America confirmed a number of pertinent facts about our equally impressive iteration of this legendary Wundercar.
True to form, the fifth-generation M5 -- code-named F10M -- puts a performance edge on every aspect of its character that begins with a tastefully higher-profile exterior design. It starts with a bolder front fascia/fender treatment that brings bigger air intakes and corner-following Active bi-xenon headlamps with LED accent rings. More prominently flared wheel arches, M-style front fender gills and bespoke side skirts add drama to the profile while a unique diffuser flanked by dual twin exhaust outlets, an understated rear decklid spoiler lip and subtly restyled LED taillamps round out the mix.
Heart of the 2012 BMW M5 is its new 4.4-liter M Twin Turbo Power V8, which has output and technology that far outstrip the formidable 5.0-liter V10 found in its predecessor. While using the same basic lag-free cross-bank twin-scroll/twin-turbocharger/intercooler setup and Double-Vanos variable camshaft control as the similarly-configured M motivator fitted in the current X5M/X6M models, this new force-fed M5 V8 gets its own unique setups and adds two key elements to the mix: BMW's Valvetronic fully variable valve-lift control and a new iteration of high-pressure/multi-pulse direct fuel injection. Collectively, those upgrades result in "the most powerful engine ever fitted in a series-produced model from BMW M GmbH." Vital stats in Europe number 560 horses and 502 lb-ft of torque (U.S ratings are slated to be 555/500, respectively). That gives it 10 percent more power than the V10 it replaces and over 30 percent greater peak torque -- all of that twist being on hand from 1,500-5,750 rpm.
Backed by a standard seven-speed/paddle-shifted M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) with multimode Drivelogic, the 2012 BMW M5 will streak from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds and on to an electronically limited 155 mph. Although the optional Driver's Package that allows for an unrestricted 190-mph terminal velocity will be limited to European buyers, there's good, if still formally unconfirmed, reason to believe that U.S. M5 customers will have the choice of either the MDCT or a conventional six-speed manual transmission. Equally critical given the ever-tightening CAFE demands, the new M5 powertrain is some 30-percent more fuel efficient on the Euro cycle, a gain assisted by both the introduction of start/stop circuitry and Brake Energy Regeneration that limits alternator-battery recharge cycling to off-throttle-only modes.
Underpinning the 2012 BMW M5 is a suitably sport-tuned chassis that was track-tested on Germany's demanding Nurburgring circuit. It matches control arms up front and a rear multilink setup with BMW's adjustable Dynamic Damper Control and Active M Differential. The M5's driver-adjustable shocks and M5-spec Servotronic electrically boosted power steering offer Comfort/Sport/Sport Plus modes to custom-tailor the ride compliance and feedback to the driver's personal tastes. Its stability-optimizing, electronically locking rear diff -- which is fully integrated with the Dynamic Stability Control and super-sophisticated anti-lock brakes -- can instantly vary the amount of left/right torque from 0-100 percent to help limit wheel spin and let the M5 best use its power on all kinds of slick and/or inconsistent road surfaces. While the M5's standard wheel/tire package mounts 265/40 front and 295/40 rear rubber on 19-inch cast alloy wheels, 20-inch forged alloys are available as an optional upgrade.
As before, the 2012 BMW M5 also comes standard with the M Drive system that permits fine tuning of six different functional parameters (engine management, Servotronic steering, M-DCT Drivelogic, DSC stability, Dynamic Damper Control and M-specific Heads-up display) at the push of a button on the steering wheel. One-upping its predecessor, the 2012 M5 features two of these M Drive buttons to facilitate quick, easy toggling between different pre-programmed setups.
While its U.S.-specific equipment roster is still being finalized, we do know our M5 will share a number of performance and luxury-oriented features with its Euro kin. Key common elements include M-spec leather-covered and heated sport bucket seats, a multifunction sport steering wheel and M-specific instrumentation and heads-up display readouts. Also in the mix are four-zone auto climate control, and an enhanced iDrive system with a larger 10.2-inch color display as well a BMW Individual Anthracite headliner, exclusive Aluminum Trace interior trim accents, "M5" logo door sills and an aluminum driver's footrest.
Options on the Euro front include BMW's brilliant M multifunction active/ventilated front seats, an advanced navigation system, Park Distance Control, Lane Departure Warning System, a rear view camera, Surround View and BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, High-Beam Assistant and Speed Limit Info, most of which are expected to be either standard or available here as well.
No word on pricing yet, but we're led to believe that it will start marginally above where the 2010 model bowed out. If that proves to be true, anticipate an opening hit around $90,000.