Throughout six generations, the BMW M5 has been offered with inline-six, V8, and V10 engines, but never with an electric motor. The seventh M5 is the first to adopt a plug-in hybrid setup, equipped with a 14.8-kWh battery. It feeds juice to an electric motor built into the eight-speed automatic transmission. Don’t go looking for a manual because the days of three-pedal M5s are long gone. Since the engineers focused on performance rather than efficiency, you won’t be able to travel too far without firing up the combustion engine. For the US market, BMW quotes an estimated electric range of 25 miles (40 kilometers). The company’s European branch is more optimistic since the new M5 is projected to cover 43 miles (69 kilometers) on electric power.

The difference likely stems from how cars are evaluated in the EPA and WLTP test cycles. To prevent the battery from depleting even quicker, the top speed is electronically governed to 87 mph (140 km/h). When the M5 is running in electric mode, the V8 roars to life only when the driver pushes the accelerator pedal hard. The twin-turbo 4.4-liter unit is also awakened when the driver manually changes gears using the paddle shifters.

BMW mounts the battery in the underbody so that it doesn’t hamper practicality. The lithium-ion pack lowers the center of gravity, which in turn helps with handling. However, there’s no denying the plug-in hybrid component adds weight. How much of that extra bulk is felt, we’ll have to wait and see. Electrifying the M5 was the only viable solution to keep the V8 alive for one more generation. In the age of downsizing, BMW bucks the trend with a plug-in hybrid “S68” engine. The battery has substantially less usable energy content than the one inside the XM, at 14.8 kWh vs 25.7 kWh. It can be charged at up to 7.4 kW, in which case it takes three hours and 15 minutes to go from 0 to 100%.

The M5 Touring “G99” arriving later this year will offer the same technical specifications. It might be slightly less efficient in electric mode due to extra weight. Wagons tend to be heavier than the sedans they’re based upon. It’s a problem Americans can live with considering this will be the first M wagon for the United States and Canada.

Source: BMW