While the world awaits the upcoming BMW F90 M5’s arrival in September, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, some journalists from around the globe have gotten a taste of BMW’s newest M car. BMW M is currently testing 100 test mules, with testing being done by both engineers and journalists, to get the last five-to-ten percent of development done. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to test the new F90 M5 but we’ll bring you a roundup of all the reviews from people that have.
We already know that the new F90 M5 is packing a variant of the same S63 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. In this new M5, it makes “around” 600 hp, though BMW was a bit mum on the exact details. According to EVO, it’s about 607 hp, but that isn’t official. Though it puts it right there with the Audi RS6 Performance and the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. It also packs 516 lb-ft of torque, which is up a bit from the previous car.
We’ve also previously learned that the new F90 M5 can get from 0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds, which makes it the fastest accelerating BMW ever made. BMW fans should be happy about that. Though, most enthusiasts aren’t worried about its power and performance, we all know BMW would deliver there. What most enthusiasts are concerned with is whether or not the new F90 M5 brings some of the purity and driving fun back to the brand. From what we’re hearing around the interwebs, It certainly seems that BMW has quelled the fears of its fanbase. Especially considering the new M5’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Yes, the new BMW M5 is the first non-SUV M car to have all-wheel drive. While that’s blasphemous to the BMW faithful, it’s been done in a way that should relieve most fans. The xDrive all-wheel drive system actually has three different modes and the ability to be completely rear-wheel drive. The first mode is regular “4WD”, which acts as the brand’s usual rear-biased all-wheel drive system. Then there’s “4WD Sport”, which will send most of the power to the rear wheels for most of the time and allow for quite a lot of slip before it starts to send power to the front wheels. The final mode is “2WD” which is full-time rear-wheel drive that will not send power to the front wheels no matter how drifty things get. And things can get very, very drifty.
Here’s what Car and Driver, who’ve been pretty critical of BMW as of late, had to say about the new M5 and its all-wheel drive system: “Relax. The following day, a dozen laps in camouflaged M5 prototypes around the road courses at BMW’s Miramas test facility in southern France show that this car has the potential to be the best M5 since the E39 gave way to the Bangle-tastic E60. The M5’s new hardware may be blasphemous, but it’s good. Very good.”
In fact, Autocar felt that the “4WD Sport” mode is better than the “2WD” mode, despite its blasphemy. “After ‘4WD Sport’, ‘2WD’ mode actually feels a bit slow and untidy. The car’s handling is allowed to be more luridly sideways than the ‘F10’s ever was, and there’s no end of slip angle to be had anywhere you might be brave enough to dial it up.” So, regardless of its all-wheel drive system, BMW M has certainly allowed its fans to have as much fun as possible and will allow them to drift until either they run out of nerve or tires.
But it isn’t just a tire-smoking hooligan. When you want to drive it properly quickly, it can do that too. According to EVO, at the Miramas test track in France where they tested the car, “once out onto the circuit the new car feels relentlessly, brutally fast.” Car and Driver felt similarly. “This is an easy car to drive quickly. There’s just enough body roll to feel the chassis take a set in curves, and the car rotates nicely on the brakes. Yet, unlike the outgoing F10 M5, which could be a handful, it never feels as if it’s going to snap around and spit you off the road.”
C&D even mentioned that the new M5′ steering is better than the outgoing F10 M5’s. While it could still be better, it’s the best BMW effort in awhile. “The steering requires less effort than before, and it’s 25 percent quicker, which helps the car feel smaller and lighter than it is. It’s a huge improvement over the steering in the fifth-generation car. There’s also more feel—but not as much as you get from Porsche in the Panamera.”
Motor Trend spoke about how easy the M5 was to drive quickly and aggressively. “I found myself comfortably stepping out the rear in each mode while we all smiled. The exhaust sound was exhilarating, and the transmission, set to D3 (automatic, quickest shifts), felt like the old DCT—complete with blip-throttle downshifts and split-second keister-kicking upshifts.” Also, about the steering, “In just a few turns, I noticed the electric steering assist effort levels are more appropriate. This alone makes the car feel lighter and more agile.”
It seems that every journalist who’s driven the new BMW F90 M5 has been impressed. To be honest, we’re not surprised, as we’ve heard from our sources at BMW that it’s pretty incredible. What we’re surprised about is the fact that its steering is supposedly as good as it is, the fact that it can completely turn off all-wheel drive and that it’s as much of a drifting loon as it is. We were fearful that it would be a clinical and brutally fast bruiser like the Mercedes-AMG E63 S, especially with its all-wheel drive. But it seems as if BMW M built in as much of the M Division DNA as needed and has made this the best M car in years.
We obviously won’t know for sure until we can drive production-ready versions but from what we’re hearing and reading, we’re going to be mighty impressed.