The redesigned 5 Series has proven to be a popular seller for BMW — with sales up 16% in May — and has helped the German automaker become the best-selling luxury carmaker in the U.S. year-to-date.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the new model meant there was no high-performance M5 offering for nearly a year — I’m sure to performance junkies, that felt like an eternity. But the wait is finally over, and the new 2012 BMW M5 looks like it will reward those with patience.
The heart of the new M5 is its all-new engine. Don’t let the smaller displacement and two fewer cylinders fool you. This 560-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 produces 502 pounds-feet of torque, and it is the most powerful engine ever to reside in a mass-market BMW engine bay. The powertrain packs more 60 hp and 119 pounds-feet more torque than the 2010 M5. The sedan is estimated to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds.
Besides the power boost, the new engine also has improved fuel economy measures, such as auto start-stop and regenerative braking, that promise up to 30% better gas mileage than the 2010 M5, which achieved 11/17 mpg city/highway.
Instead of offering manual and automatic transmission units, all M5s now feature a seven-speed double-clutch transmission that offers fully manual and fully automated shift options, with three different driver-selected programs in each mode, including a low-speed assistance option that will help the car move smoothly through heavy traffic. There’s also an automatically activated parking mode and launch control mode.
For the first time, the M5 will come with a multi-plate limited-slip differential that intervenes rapidly at early stages to control wheelspin and to keep the car stable. Standard electronic control dampers are also new; this allows the suspension to switch the damping characteristics of the shock absorbers from Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus modes. There are also three different selections available for the power-steering system.
Like its predecessor, the new M5 is available only in rear-wheel drive. The car comes standard with 19-inch light alloy wheels, with 20-inch forged alloy wheels optional. Bi-xenon headlights with LED indicators and LED taillamps are standard, as well as a twin-tailpipe exhaust system.
On the inside, there’s an M5-specific steering wheel and leather sport bucket seats, aluminum trim and a black headliner. A 10.2-inch center console display and BMW’s iDrive control system are also standard.
BMW hasn’t announced a U.S. launch date, but we’d expect the high-performance sedan to go on sale before the end of 2011. Continue below for more photos.