Recently, BMW M Boss, Frank Van Meel, told Autocar that 600 horsepower would be the limit for the next-gen M5. This has some BMW fans in a bit of a panic, wondering why Van Meel would intentionally limit the horsepower to BMW’s most famous super-sedan. It’s especially surprising, because talks of adding all-wheel drive to the M5 would mean that it could handle even more power than ever. And BMW even proved that the current M5 could handle that kind of power, with the Jahre Edition. So why limit the next M5 to a level of horsepower that the current model can already handle?
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He didn’t give the most informative of answers, simply stating “We’re at the limit.
If you go on adding more horsepower and torque, it’d probably be over the limits.” But I think the idea is that simply adding more power, Clarkson style, isn’t the answer to creating a faster, more dynamic and more efficient M5. In fact, it’s actually quite refreshing to hear that Van Meel isn’t interested in just pumping out more horsepower and torque and seems more interested in a more comprehensive approach.
Firstly, by keeping the next-gen M5 at around 600hp and giving it all-wheel drive the M5 will be able to put its power down excellently already, therefor making it faster. Secondly, the next-gen M5 will be considerably lighter, sharing the same lightweight chassis technology borrowed from the G11 7 Series. So with the lighter weight and better traction, the new M5 will be considerably faster and handle better. The latter being most important. So it seems that instead of Clarkson style, Van Meel wants is more akin to use Colin Chapman’s “simplify and add lightness” style.
The M5 was always the driver’s car in its segment, which consists of the Audi RS6 and Mercedes E63 AMG. Those cars always seemed to be more leather-lined missiles than the canyon carving scalpels that M5’s have always been. So as those other brands add firepower, BMW should be more focused on making the M5 sharper, more agile and ultimately more fun. So, in a way, I’m glad that Van Meel is taking a limited approach to horsepower. Power just for the sake of power doesn’t actually make a better car, or necessarily even a faster one.
We don’t know for sure what Van Meel is actually up to, in creating the upcoming M5. But we do know that just pumping up the horsepower is not his solution. Hopefully, 600hp combined with lighter weight and sharper handling will be sufficient to take on the next RS6 and E63 AMG. If not, there’s always the performance pack.