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Pleading The Fifth

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On: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Pleading The Fifth

 

In the court of public opinion it seems that the previous generation M5 (designated E60 inside BMW) was indicted on charges of impersonating a super sedan for the American public. It seemed the jury found the chassis too stiff, the sequential auto shift too difficult to use for everyday driving, the engine too… well… too racy. The Formula One-inspired, naturally aspirated V-10 produced 500hp from its five liters (100hp per liter is such a high benchmark that it is reserved mostly for those that use turbochargers or superchargers). Despite its 8000rpm shriek, it managed a peak of ‘only’ 383lb-ft of torque at a very lofty 6100 rpm. The race-inspired V-10 also had the thirst of a track car averaging only around 11/city and 17mpg on the highway.  

Add to that condemnation a haughty as- tested price of entry at around 90k and a competitor from Cadillac in the form of the mighty LS6 and the even more potent LS9-powered CTS-V, that had more torque, more horsepower, and an entry price almost 30 grand less and you have a case mounting against the German hot rod. GM all but threw the book at the E60 with a very impressive run around the Nurburgring Nordschleife (a 12.9 mile track that sports 33 left hand turns and 40 right hand turns) in the CTS-V, making the Cadillac currently the fastest sedan in the world. At the end of that trial you have a car in the M5 that is guilty of asking too much for just not enough.  

The Bavarians are not known for sitting on their laurels, however, and they quickly bailed out their V10 super car. They have been working with the M5, and began its rehab program in the hopes it will be vindicated of the defamation it suffered at the hands of critics and Cadillacs alike. Though still a year or so away it doesn’t look like a full pardon is going to be a problem.  

The 2011 M5 (code named F10, presumably to protect its identity until it can come out of BMW’s protective custody) will be one of the most powerful BMWs ever built for street use. BMW says that it will be powered by the same twin-turbo 4.4 liter engine used in the X5 and X6M. The SUV version currently produces 555 horsepower, so obviously BMW’s marquee sports sedan will produce at least that much, and a figure closer to 600hp is probably about right. The turbo will also satisfy torque-mongers by producing a much more twist happy 500+ lb ft at a very lowly 1500 rpm (Cadillac better be listening!).

Beyond sheer performance numbers in terms of acceleration, the M division also chose to focus on performance at the pump as well. BMW has slowly been evolving its sports division from natural aspiration to forced induction citing more power and better fuel economy, while reducing emissions. A start-stop program is also said to be an option. This system will turn the engine off once the car has come to a complete stop and then restart it at the appropriate time. The über-sedan is also reported to retain the valet defying program that allows the driver to select between engine modes. One mode will be for daily driving and fuel efficiency (rumored to include possible cylinder deactivation) and a reduction in peak horsepower via fuel management, and the other program will unleash every pony under the hood and buckle down for redline shifts all afternoon, fuel economy be damned.

The suspension is also said to be vastly improved, thanks to a space frame construction of aluminum and carbon-fiber. Better weight balance is achieved by making the front section of the car out of the lighter materials (aluminum and carbon fiber), while the main cabin will retain its steel one-piece attire. Significant carbon fiber is also expected to be used for several body panels, as well, to help the German hot rod stay near its current fighting weight.

BMW says that its relatively new Drivelogic program that will offer as many as 11 different shift programs to aid driving dynamics. But the biggest aid to the new ride engine aside, will be the new M-DCT transmission (modified from the current M3), that will replace the very frustrating SMG variant in the current car. The new transmission promises to be more user friendly, lower emissions, and supply better rations with more than likely seven forward gears in paddle shifter form.

Performance statistics are not yet available, as the car has not officially been road tested by any media as of this writing, but expect 0-60 times of around four seconds flat, 0-100 mph in the low nine-second range and quarter mile times in the low 12s around 118mph.

The next M5 promises to be everything the previous car could not be. It will be a more powerful, more fuel-efficient, better riding, handling, and accelerating four-door testimony to BMW’s dedication to perfection. Although it has not been released to the public yet, from the looks of things, there will be no shortage of eyewitness accounts of unadulterated speed and comfort. The M5 will once again be free and back on the streets to take on the mighty Cadillac CTS-V and all other challengers. With so many improvements, the question will undoubtedly come up: Is the M5 the greatest sports sedan in the world? The M division will have no choice but to plead the fifth.


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