BMW confirms xDrive for new M5 and 8-speed automatic transmission, no manual

BMW M5 | May 16th, 2017 by 14
2018 BMW M5 Prototype front three quarter 830x553

BMW unveils some details around the next generation F90 M5. The sixth generation of the sporty sedan will be launched in 2017 complete with the M xDrive system, …

BMW unveils some details around the next generation F90 M5. The sixth generation of the sporty sedan will be launched in 2017 complete with the M xDrive system, an evolutionary step in every respect since the introduction of the original BMW M5 in 1984.

The M xDrive system enables the 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. 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).

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BMW also confirms that the 7-speed DCT was replaced by an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. 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. Purists will have to go on this generation M5 without a manual transmission.

Even more interesting is the weight loss, 220 lbs (100kg) lighter than the F10 M5, but in most cases, with proper options, the weight reduction is averaged at around 65 kg (143 lbs).

Under the bonnet of the new BMW M5, the M engineers have placed an updated version of is the 4.4‑liter V8 engine featuring M TwinPower Turbo technology. The further improved high-revving engine outperforms its predecessor in terms of power output and torque. BMW has yet to officially acknowledge the power output, but our sources say around 600 horsepower.

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M xDrive with three driving modes

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.

Every time the engine is started, the BMW M5 defaults to 4WD mode with DSC on.

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. 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 well known rear-wheel drive experience.

3.5 seconds – Standard Sprint

Use the launch control, which now is engaged by simply holding down the traction-control button for three seconds, and BMW says the M5 will storm to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds.

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 center 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.

Production will begin soon after the car is officially unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September. In the meantime, there are 100 M5 mules being tested all over the world.

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