The 2018 BMW F90 M5 is currently being tested on a variety of tracks and in and out of crowded cities. The Motorsport division’s engineers are hard at work and they know that the new M car has to bring a drastic improvement to the table compared to its predecessor, that received bitter-sweet reviews. The area that will receive the most attention will be the total weight of the thing but other issues are of great importance as well.
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While the F10 M5 was dismissed due to its weight that could be felt in the corners, the F90 M5 has to make amends in this regard. According to our sources inside Munich, the new model will be using CFRP extensively, including in its core, just like we’ve seen on the new G11/G12 7 Series, in order to save a lot of weight. This being an M model, CFRP will also be used for the roof and in other key areas of the car.
Leaving the weight factor aside, a lot of people are also asking themselves if the car will finally be available with all-wheel drive. The answer to that question is not crystal clear yet. What is pretty obvious is that BMW is experimenting with such a prospect. That’s why the M division is now run by Frank van Meele, the former boss of Audi’s quattro division and, apparently, a man that knows a thing or two about all-wheel drive transmissions.
In recent interviews, he even stated that AWD is inevitable for the M5 but he didn’t confirm that the upcoming generation will be the first one to feature it. He did, however, say that if that will be the case, it won’t be under the xDrive name but a different one that would emphasize the fact that it is rear-wheel drive biased.
And that’s a good thing. Most customers would appreciate AWD as it would help the car get some good grip especially when launching but they’d still prefer a RWD character while negotiating tight bends. Alas, with the possibility of the introduction of AWD, a question is, justifiably, raised: what kind of gearbox will be used?
The most recent video of the F90 M5 testing on the Nurburgring shows it changing gears at a rapid pace but some say that those shifts aren’t as fast as the DCT gearbox should be, claiming the ZF 8-speed unit was installed on-board instead. While such claims are not exactly noteworthy, as the difference between the two is so small, you can barely tell from behind the wheel (it’s down to a couple of milliseconds), the point raised is valid.
The 7-speed DCT gearbox BMW has at the moment can’t be used with an all-wheel drive system. As a matter of fact, on the original X5 M and X6 M models, the first AWD M cars, the gearbox used was a Getrag 6-speed that fell behind in performance over the years. The new M SUVs are now using a modified version of the ZF 8-speed found in a plethora of cars these days and that’s what could be used on the M5 if it is offered with all-wheel drive.
Of course, there’s also the possibility of BMW developing a new dual-clutch transmission for its upcoming M cars that supports AWD. As the technology evolves, more M models might be coming out with xDrive (or some variation of it) and such an investment might make sense financially but for now, our money is (if the AWD M5 becomes reality) on a revamped version of the ZF 8-speed gearbox.