Yep, BMW's new super saloon is 4WD, but you can still do big, bargey skids
Brace, brace, brace! We have big news from BMW; and you may want to take a seat for it. After 32 years of rear-wheel-drive M5s, the German manufacturer has decided to send power to all four wheels for its new super saloon. No doubt to keep up with the new, utterly ballistic and four-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG E63. But, just like the Mercedes E63, you can disable power going to the front wheels to allow for big, bargey skids on demand. Goodie.
Each time you fire up the 4.4‑litre V8 – the same unit from the old model but reworked to bring a yet unknown power figure (one that’s probably in excess of the 592bhp M5 Competition Package and 603bhp E63) – the car defaults to 4WD via BMW’s XDrive system. However, we’re told this still allows for some slip as it’s rear-biased and only brings the front wheels into play when the rears can’t physically put any more power down to the road.
But if you want to get the car moving around, you hit the DSC switch which gives you the option of three modes: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. 4WD is all about maximum traction. 4WD Sport is geared towards fast track use. And 2WD is for all you hooligans out there who want to bonfire the rear tyres. Or, as BMW puts it, ‘the purists’.
We’re told the new Five’s drivetrain has been beefed up for greater rigidity to factor in the higher torque (final figures haven’t been announced yet), rear-biased configuration and 2WD option. A transfer case divides the engines power between the front and rear wheels, and then an Active M Differential splits it again between the rear wheels. A diff that’s capable of locking between zero and 100 per cent. A good thing for drifts in two-wheel-drive mode.
The new gen M5 also gets a new gearbox; an eight-speed dual clutcher with improved shift times. So, this, plus the more power and four-wheel-drive will see 0-100kph times shrink from the old car’s 4.3 seconds but it’ll still be shackled by a 250kph top speed. Something that can be removed with the help of money, no doubt.
We’ll see the car out of its bin bag nearer the Frankfurt motor show later this year where we’ll have all the info. That’s in September, so you have plenty of time until then to argue about whether going four-wheel-drive is a good thing.