An early prototype of the next generation BMW M5 has been caught on camera returning to the test center at the Nürburgring.

An early prototype of the next generation BMW M5 has been caught on camera returning to the test center at the Nürburgring.

It will have roughly the same size as today's model, but underneath the skin it is set to become a significantly different car as the new CLAR (Cluster Architecture) will shave off as much as 100 kg (220 lbs). Rear-wheel drive will be standard, but for the first time on an M model we should expect to see an optional xDrive setup that will like be rear-biased as the engine will send power to the front axle only when extra grip will be necessary.

The new M5 (codenamed F90) is bound to show up in dealerships towards the end of 2017 and will likely use an evolution of the twin-turbo V8 4.4-liter engine which according to German publication Auto Bild will be massaged to deliver as much as 626 PS (460 kW) which would make it 26 PS (19 kW) more powerful than the BMW M5 "30 Jahre M5" special edition from last year. In addition, torque is also expected to be boosted beyond the 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) offered by the limited-run model.

The added power combined with a lighter body should enable the next-gen M5 run the 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) substantially quicker than the aforementioned 30 Jahre M5 which needs 3.9 seconds and tops out at 190 mph (305 km/h) with the optional M Driver's Package.

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Next-gen M5 spied returning to the BMW M test center