The Next BMW M5 Will Be All-Wheel Drive: Unless You Push a Few Buttons

2018 BMW M5

BMW’s newest M5 is getting all-wheel drive for the first time. But don’t worry, tail-out super sedan fans, the new M xDrive system has a mode that you’re going to love. And it’s not just another “drift mode.” BMW’s teasing the all-new M5 with some photos, and some technical details about the new car. They aren’t saying everything, but they are saying a lot.

The new M5 will get a new version of the 4.4L twin-turbo V8 that sits in the current car. It will have more power and torque than the 560 hp and 500 lb-ft that the engine has currently, but BMW hasn’t said how much more. That engine is going to be connected to an eight-speed automatic, with a conventional automatic replacing the seven-speed dual clutch box of the last car. BMW says the replacement gives “incredibly short shift times and optimal ratio spacing.”

But about that all-wheel drive system. BMW says that default mode for the car is all-wheel drive with DSC stability control on. That will allow a bit of slip at the rear, but BMW promotes it as being faster to accelerate, and better out of corners. M dynamic mode “has been configured for ultra-sporty and dynamic handling.” That means more power to the rear and more allowable slip.

Turn off stability control, and three more modes become available. BMW calls them 4WD, 4WD Sport, and 2WD. The first two have different levels of allowable rear-wheel slip, with 4WD Sport intended for dry track use. The fun one is the last one. BMW says that 2WD gives full rear-wheel drive only. All the power is sent to the back two tires, through an active rear differential, with no power going to the front wheels at all. Let’s call that the fun mode.

There are changes inside too. The M5 will have a new instrument cluster with new gauges and new buttons for the various drive modes. The steering wheel will have paddles for the automatic transmission. Expect more bolstered sports seats and more sporting trim inside.

BMW works driver and ex-Formula 1 driver Timo Glock sums the new drive system up well, saying that the new M5 offers “a noticeable boost to traction and controllability” even in snow, but doesn’t “give up the chance to explore the car’s sporting character.”

BMW says that the all-new and sixth-generation M5 will launch later this year. Expect more photos, with a little less camouflage, closer to that date.

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Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Evan is based in Halifax, and has been a car nut for as long as anyone can remember. He autocrosses, does lapping days and TSD rallies, breaks cars and then fixes them again.