BMW details its new M xDrive system ahead of the M5's official debut.
The BMW M5 isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet; these manufacturer-released photos of a camouflaged car prove its official debut is yet to come (think Frankfurt). The big story, right now, is something BMW calls M xDrive, a new technology that allows the M5 to switch between all- or rear-wheel drive, depending on the driver’s preference.
When the M5 starts up, it defaults to full all-wheel drive, though BMW notes that even in its standard configuration, the drivetrain has a definite rear bias. Switching to M Dynamic Mode puts the drivetrain into what BMW defines as “4WD Sport,” which further increases the rear-biased power delivery. Finally, turning the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) completely off allows the driver to switch between 4WD, 4WD Sport, or – yes – 2WD, where power is only sent to the rear wheels. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Mercedes-Benz employs a similar bit of technology on the new AMG E63.
BMW says the new M5 will use a higher-output version of the biturbocharged 4.4-liter V8 found in the M550i xDrive. Output numbers and acceleration data aren’t out just yet, though other publications seem to think the 2018 M5 will have 600 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, and will run 0-62 miles per hour in less than 3.5 seconds. Where this data comes from, we don’t know, but it sounds reasonable (and super cool). All BMW will say right now is that the new M5’s engine “outperforms its predecessor in terms of power output and torque,” and will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, like the M550i.
As for other details, mum's the word. Our colleagues at Motor1-UK got to drive the prototype, and generally has positive things to say. We'll get our official crack behind the wheel later this year, following the M5's official debut. For now, see a ton of new (camouflaged) photos in the gallery below, and click below that for the press release.
Gallery: 2018 BMW M5 Prototype
The new BMW M5 with M xDrive.
The new BMW M5 (fuel consumption combined: 10.5 l/100 km [26.9 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 241 g/km) is the most exciting and emotionally enthralling high-performance sedan from this model range ever released by BMW M. The sixth generation of this fantastically sporty machine will be launched in 2017 complete with the M xDrive system, whose all-wheel-drive technology enables the business sedan’s dynamic prowess to be experienced in even greater depth. Quite apart from its notably enhanced performance, the new BMW M5 also boasts far greater everyday practicality and supreme poise. It therefore constitutes another evolutionary step in every respect for an exceedingly successful vehicle concept that first emerged in 1984 with the launch of the original BMW M5.
A superior drivetrain: M xDrive.
High-performance driving dynamics on the one hand paired with the everyday practicality and qualities of a business sedan on the other: this neatly sums up M’s traditional approach to model development – one which strives to harmonise individual drive components into a flawless whole.
“The core component of M xDrive is a central intelligence unit with M-specific software delivering integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The new drivetrain technology – making its debut on the new BMW M5 – therefore combines all of the agility and precision of standard rear-wheel drive with the supreme poise and traction of the all-wheel-drive system,” explains Frank van Meel, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH. “As a result, the new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road – and in various weather conditions, too.”
The M xDrive system enables a wonderfully fleet-footed rear-biased set-up by only bringing the front wheels into play when the rear wheels aren’t able to transmit any more power to the road and additional tractive force is required. Even when it is being driven in a particularly sporty manner and unleashing high levels of power, the new BMW M5 with M xDrive behaves predictably and can be controlled with ease by the driver, paving the way for an even richer experience of the business sedan’s extraordinary performance capabilities.
The driver can choose from five different configurations based on combinations of the DSC modes (DSC on, MDM, DSC off) and M xDrive modes (4WD, 4WD Sport, 2WD).
The configurations allow the drive system’s characteristics to be tailored to both the driver’s personal preferences and the nature of the journey. Purists can opt for classical rear-wheel drive by completely deactivating the all-wheel-drive system.
All in all, the new drive system engenders class-beating handling dynamics accompanied by unrestricted everyday usability. This is made possible by a central intelligence unit with M-specific software for integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The result is optimum performance in each of the different configurations. With the advent of M xDrive, the engineers have succeeded in fusing the classical qualities of standard rear-wheel drive with the benefits of the sports-focused BMW xDrive.
This all adds up to a sense of dynamic flair that astounds even seasoned DTM drivers: “I’m a big M5 fan,” explains BMW works driver Timo Glock, for example. “I often drive long distances and I need plenty of room for my family, but I wouldn’t wish to give up the chance to explore the car’s sporting character. With M xDrive, not only can the new BMW M5 be steered with the usual precision and agility, it also offers me something I really appreciate, living in Switzerland: a noticeable boost to traction and controllability – even when driving in particular environmental conditions, such as wet weather and snow, and in both everyday driving situations and when pushing the car to its performance limits.”
Sportiness and smoothness: eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic.
In the new BMW M5 the task of relaying the engine’s power falls to an extremely slick eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. Thanks to its incredibly short shift times and optimal ratio spacing, the transmission combines with the new M xDrive system and the further improved turbocharged V8 engine to form a perfectly orchestrated whole.
In addition, the transmission offers impressively smooth start-off characteristics, makes manoeuvring easier and has a wide ratio spread that helps to keep fuel consumption low. The driver has the usual choice of three shift programs, as well as the option of changing gear manually using shift paddles on the steering wheel and even performing sporty multiple downshifts. The eight-speed M Steptronic forms part of a new, finely honed overall package that turns the BMW M5 into a high-performance sedan offering genuine everyday practicality, and also resolves the apparent contradiction between sportiness and comfort.
More powerful and more efficient: the newly improved turbocharged V8 engine.
Lurking under the bonnet of the new BMW M5 is the latest version of the 4.4‑litre V8 engine featuring M TwinPower Turbo technology. The further improved high-revving engine outperforms its predecessor in terms of power output and torque. The enhancements implemented by the engineers include higher injection pressure, new turbochargers, more powerful lubrication and cooling systems, plus a modified, lighter exhaust system, which generates an even clearer rendition of the unmistakable M soundtrack. Thus equipped, the V8 propels the sedan to still greater feats of dynamic performance. However, it is the combination of engine, M xDrive and eight-speed M Steptronic, even more than the upgrading of engine’s technical specifications, that really sharpens the high-performance character of the new BMW M5; it takes the dynamic driving experience to a far higher level than the relatively moderate increase in power alone would allow.
Hardware and software with an M-specific set-up.
The principal hardware components of M xDrive are based on those of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system and the Active M Differential, while the M-specific driving dynamics control software ensures innovative deployment. The drivetrain has been reinforced for greater rigidity and strength to factor in the high torque, rear-biased configuration and 2WD option. While the transfer case splits a portion of the engine’s drive between the front and rear wheels in a smoothly adjustable ratio (depending on requirements), the Active M Differential is responsible for then distributing the drive between the rear wheels. This active control element is part of the M xDrive system’s functionality and its locking effect can be varied between zero and 100 per cent, as the situation demands. This ensures enhanced traction, agility and handling stability when the car is being driven in a very sporty manner or on roads with differing levels of grip – i.e. exactly when it is needed. Since M xDrive includes M-specific dynamics control capability, stabilising interventions from the DSC system are only required in extreme situations. And so the engine’s huge power can be converted into propulsive force with virtually zero losses. The upshot of all this is that the new BMW M5 can be guided with even greater precision and directional accuracy, responds sensitively and directly to the driver’s inputs and thus requires few steering corrections when driving at the limit.
À la carte handling dynamics: 4WD, 4WD Sport or 2WD.
Every time the engine is started, the BMW M5 defaults to 4WD mode with DSC on. Even in this basic configuration, which initially allows a certain amount of slip at the rear wheels to produce the agility for which M models are renowned, M xDrive offers tangible benefits in situations such as accelerating out of bends. The sedan completes the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) or 200 km/h (124 mph) sprints in the sort of times that leave its predecessor trailing in its wake and will make fans of sporty driving everywhere instantly prick up their ears.
Drivers with an even greater thirst for sporty action can tap into the car’s full performance potential by engaging a second configuration: M Dynamic Mode (MDM) with the M xDrive system’s 4WD Sport mode has been configured for ultra-sporty and dynamic handling. As a result, the new BMW M5 becomes far more agile than in the standard configuration and channels even more drive to the rear wheels. At the same time, MDM permits far greater wheel slip, allowing the enthusiastic driver to send the sedan into a controlled drift and experience the remarkable agility of the new BMW M5 – a familiar trait of M models – to the full. The onset of oversteer is telegraphed in good time while the linear increase of sideslip angle makes it easily controllable, particularly as MDM aids stability at the limits of performance.
With DSC deactivated, there is a choice of three modes (4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD). In 4WD mode, M xDrive has a neutral set-up that lends itself to optimum controllability and outstanding traction. This is of particular benefit on roads that are in mediocre or poor condition. At the same time, 4WD mode also lets the driver explore the dynamic performance capabilities of the new BMW M5 with the DSC control system deactivated.
Engaging 4WD Sport mode alters the M xDrive configuration for even greater agility and sportiness. The blend of absolute precision, delightful handling and phenomenal traction it reveals is a sure-fire route to supreme driving pleasure. 4WD Sport mode’s set-up has been fine-tuned with the assistance of highly experienced specialists and is geared towards track use in dry conditions.
With 2WD mode activated, the new BMW M5 offers the keen driver the experience of driving a high-performance sedan with rear-wheel drive only, delivering a pure form of driving enjoyment that captivates in its own unique way. The combination of incredibly agile handling, terrific feel and exceptional controllability can be attributed to the Active M Differential.
The display and control concept.
The driver-focused cockpit of the new BMW M5 now has an even clearer layout courtesy of the lowered instrument panel with freestanding Control Display. The M-style instrument cluster featuring two classical circular dials and red needles also accommodates an additional digital speedometer on the left-hand side, while the rev counter on the right includes a variable rpm pre-warning field and sporty shift lights when the Head-Up Display is switched on. In the centre of the instrument cluster, the driver will find the readouts for the gear selection, Drivelogic shift program, M xDrive mode and M1/M2 set-up, plus the drive and suspension settings currently engaged. When the Head-Up Display is activated, key information can be projected onto the windscreen so it appears in the driver’s immediate field of view. The graphics of the M view option developed for dynamic driving have been completely revised and M view now also allows navigation information to be displayed, if desired. The projection area of the Head-Up Display in the new BMW M5 has increased in size by around 70 per cent.
On top of the redesigned gear selector can be found the three-position rocker switch for selecting the Drivelogic shift programs. The P button below it for the parking lock is also within easy reach. In typical M fashion, the gears of the new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission can be changed using both the selector lever and the shift paddles on the steering wheel, while drivers can also opt for the automated D mode. In the manual S mode, meanwhile, the M Steptronic allows multiple downshifts, resulting in a significant reduction in shift times when performing sporty driving manoeuvres, such as braking hard into corners.
As on the outgoing model, the M sports steering wheel includes two individually configurable M Drive buttons (M1, M2) that allow the driver to retrieve a previously stored set-up. The buttons have been completely redesigned and are prominently located. This ensures they are even easier to reach and, in customary M style, offer excellent speed of use. As well as the M xDrive mode and the Drivelogic shift program, the engine and damper mapping, Servotronic steering characteristics and readouts in the Head-Up Display can also be memorised. The desired settings can be stored via the iDrive menu. An icon in the instrument cluster indicates to the driver when a stored M1/M2 set-up is activated.
A short press of the DSC button in the centre console activates M Dynamic Mode (MDM) and a long press engages DSC off mode. When DSC off mode is activated, the M xDrive settings menu appears in the Control Display at the same time. Plus, it is now possible to select 4WD, 4WD Sport or 2WD mode using either the iDrive Controller or the touchscreen function. The mode activated is displayed in the instrument cluster and can also be saved as part of an M Drive set-up.