2018 BMW M5 First Look | Edmunds

2018 BMW M5 First Look

More Reasons to Love Both Its Personalities

Few cars transform as adeptly as the BMW M5. For decades, the M5 has represented the pinnacle of sport sedan achievement, a Jekyll-and-Hyde car that carries its riders in refinement when caged and blisters the pavement when unleashed.

The new sixth-generation 2018 BMW M5 builds on that tradition. Its host of changes include more power, improved safety and an all-wheel-drive system built to accentuate the M5's already considerable handling ability.

Two inches longer and a half-inch wider overall, the new M5 offers passengers a little more elbow room. For the first time, a package of driver aids borrowed from the standard 5 Series sedan — such as blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a top-down parking camera system — are also included.

2018 BMW M5

You wouldn't think you'd need to extract more sauce from the previous M5's 560-horsepower engine, but BMW found a way to force-feed more air through an improved turbocharger design, unlocking an additional 40 hp and 53 pound-feet of torque. The revised twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 now puts out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.

All that power is channeled through a new eight-speed automatic transmission that helps push the 2018 BMW M5 from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, nearly a full second faster than the previous model, and to a top speed of 189 mph. That's exotic-supercar kind of performance in a sedan you can drive to the office every day.

It's one thing to make an engine that makes 600 hp; it's another to turn it into efficient traction and not simply a cloud of smoke from melting tires. The new M5 features M xDrive, an M-specific all-wheel-drive system that the driver can adjust to taste. In most driving, the rear wheels handle the job of propulsion. But if the system determines the rear wheels can't put down any more power, it will apportion power to the front (an active rear differential also works in the background to distribute power between the rear wheels as needed).

Drivers can also engage all-wheel drive on their own. And even with AWD engaged, BMW says the M5 will allow a certain amount of rear tire slip such as when aggressively accelerating out of turns, delivering the M5's trademark agile handling with enhanced stability.

2018 BMW M5

For drivers who plan to take the M5 to track events, the new car presents three performance modes when the stability control system is disengaged. A 4WD mode offers the best balance of performance and control, while a 4WD Sport mode dials in more steering and handling effort. A pure rear-wheel-drive (2WD) mode, meanwhile, is geared toward experienced drivers who are confident enough to control the M5's outrageous power from the rear wheels alone.

You won't need to drive the M5 on a track to enjoy its broad abilities, however. The eight-speed automatic transmission offers three modes that range from longer shift intervals to maximize fuel economy to short, snappy gear changes for more spirited romps. There's no longer a manual transmission option, but drivers can shift for themselves using the gear lever or steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

There are also driver-selectable modes for steering effort and suspension stiffness. The M5 can even store in its memory two driver profiles, including preferences for engine and transmission response, steering effort and suspension damping.

2018 BMW M5

A host of suspension and chassis refinements (revised front double-wishbone design, firmer sway bars and bushings) and more detailed changes such as larger front air intakes (improved engine and brake cooling), aluminum panels, and a carbon-fiber-reinforced roof round out the M5's upgrades for 2018.

The new sixth-generation BMW M5 goes on sale next spring. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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