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First look: Next M5 comes alive

Power packed: Expect a minimum 368kW (500bhp) from the E60 M5's V10 engine.

BMW will unveil the "Concept M5" at the Geneva motor show this week

2 Mar 2004

THE long awaited successor to the iconic BMW M5 super sedan debuts in concept form at the Geneva motor show this week.

It will be the precursor to the production version of the rear-wheel drive E60 series M5 – now in its third generation – engineered by BMW’s M Division in Munich and built at the regular 5 Series facility in Dingolfing, Germany.

That car is expected to debut at September’s Paris motor show, before a mid-2005 local launch.

The subtle exterior tweaks over the stock E60 include larger front and rear air dams, extended side sills and four fat exhaust pipes.

Their job is to help an all-new 5.5-litre V10 engine breathe more freely.

The production M5 is expected to yield at least 368kW of power (which broaches the magic 500bhp figure in the old language), with some pundits predicting in excess of 410kW (which would shade the Bentley Continental GT’s maximum).

The top torque output will easily eclipse its predecessor’s 500Nm. Six hundred plus is a possibility.

Transmission choices are likely to extend beyond the old car’s six-speed manual to include an improved version of the SMG II sequential gearbox found in the E46 3 Series based M3 coupe and convertible.

Featuring seven-speeds, the new SMG gearbox promises benefits in performance, driveability, refinement and economy.

The next M5’s kerb weight should also improve over the old car’s 1795kg. A 10 per cent reduction would be keeping with the general mass loss the current E60 5 Series has achieved over the old E39 5 Series.

This will help the new M5 flash by the standstill-to-100km mark in under five seconds.

Along with the improved performance you can expect an increase in price from the outgoing E39 M5's $195,800 ask.

The E39 M5 was released locally in March 1999 and discontinued last October.

From an M Division designed S62 4.9-litre double overhead cam 32-valve V8 engine, the four-door supercar produced 294kW of power at 6600rpm.

BMW claimed a 0 to 100km/h sprint of 5.3 seconds, on the way to the 400-metre mark in 13.4 seconds.

The M5 was in fact the first M Division vehicle, based on the original 1972 to 1981 E18 series 535i. Known as the M535i and launched in 1979, its 3.5-litre straight six-cylinder engine produced 162kW (218bhp). None arrived locally.

Next up came the E28-based (1981-1987) M5 of 1984 – the first to wear the famous alphanumerical badge. Also denied to Australians, it pumped out 213kW (286bhp) from the 3.5-litre six-cylinder engine found in the M635CSi coupe.

From July 1990 to May ’93 we finally had the chance to enjoy the M5, this time in 232kW 3.5-litre DOHC 24-valve six-cylinder E34 guise – although its 3.8-litre E34 facelift successor never made it here.

In all, 35,000 M5-badged models have been made over three generations.

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