Much like naturally aspirated engines transitioned to forced induction, ICE is being transformed once again to embrace electrification. Hybrid powertrains are typically based around downsized combustion engines, but that’s not what BMW M is doing. The recently unveiled M760e xDrive pairs an inline-six with an electric motor while the next M5 will have a V8 PHEV setup.

An early prototype of the super sedan has been caught in Germany on the public roads near the Nürburgring. According to the man with the camera who decided to chase the work-in-progress vehicle, the test driver was heading to the M test center in Nürburg. Right off the bat, the quad exhaust setup tells us we’re dealing with the M5, but there are further clues.

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Aside from the trunk lid spoiler and lowered sports suspension, those flared wheel arches clearly tell the prototype had wider tracks and meaty tires as you would expect from the flagship 5 Series. The “hybrid test vehicle” stickers confirm the M5 will switch to a plug-in hybrid setup, which we will first see on the production-ready XM before the end of the year. These two large M models will pair the new mild-hybrid S68 engine with an electric motor.

If the M5 will be anything like the Concept XM in terms of power, expect somewhere in the region of 750 hp and 1,000 Nm (738 lb-ft). Rather worryingly, BMW has said the XM will be the heaviest vehicle it’ll ever make, which tells us the new M5 could put on a few pounds compared to the current F90 generation.

This prototype is still in its infancy judging by the provisional headlights and taillights. It’s too to comment about the exterior design since the test vehicle had thick camouflage, but we do notice there doesn’t seem to be an oversized kidney grille. In addition, the next 5 Series / M5 won’t go down the split headlight route, which isn’t all too surprising since the X5 LCI will retain the traditional appearance. The bigger 7 Series and X7 have switched to a bolder appearance, for better or worse.

BMW has confirmed the new 5 Series will be out next year when the conventionally powered sedan will be joined by a purely electric i5. Chances are there will be some sort of M Performance version to sit between the i4 M50 and i7 M70, while an i5 Touring could be in the offing as well.

As for the M5, an official debut is unlikely to take place until later in 2024.

Source: Carspotter Jeroen / YouTube