BMW has announced first details of the forthcoming M5, the fourth generation ‘businessman’s express’ and the most powerful road car the Munich-based car maker has built, generating 507bhp to pass the 100bhp per litre mark.

The new M5 is powered by a normally aspirated five-litre V10 engine – a first for BMW – with the two five-cylinder banks arranged at a 90-degree angle. Redlined at 8,250rpm, the 507bhp and 520Nm of torque shoots the sports saloon from zero to 62mph (100km/h) in 4.7seconds and to 124mph in 15 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Without the limiter, the new M5 would be capable of 205mph.

The redesigned M5 produces over 25% more power than the outgoing M5 using technology such as bi-Vanos variable valve timing and individual throttle. The new engine exceeds EU4 emissions standards.

Power is transmitted through the world’s first production car seven-speed sequential gearbox with so-called Drivelogic, changing gears 20% faster than the previous generation SMG transmission. The gearbox offers eleven different change patterns, six of which allow the drive to vary the speed and response of gear change in the manual selection mode and five in the automatic mode. The sixth pattern in manual is reserved for the launch control function, giving the driver the fastest possible acceleration from standstill.

The new M5 also features a new DSC traction control system specifically developed for the car. Offering three settings, the default mode offers drivers the high levels of performance and stability expected of an ‘M’ badged model. But by pressing the DSC button once the car reverts to M Dynamic Mode to allow an enthusiastic driver the ability to push the M5 to the absolute limits of traction, even permitting some sideslip and countersteering. If the DSC button is pressed again and held down DSC is completely disengaged.

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Assisting further with performance the M5 also comes with an MDrive button on the steering wheel, offering a one-touch function that changes the settings on the car to an enhanced sporting character. This set-up is formatted via the iDrive controller with the owner choosing the preferred SMG, electronic damper control and DSC modes and, if specified, the rate of support the active seat control side bolsters offer. Once programmed, the driver presses the MDrive button on the steering wheel to transform the character of the car.

The function of the standard fit Head-up Display is also altered when the MDrive button is activated. The default setting sees speed, navigation instructions, check control messages and cruise control settings projected onto the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. However, if MDrive is activated the display changes to a rev counter including vehicle speed that both flash at the driver when the next gear needs to be selected.

While the chassis, suspension and steering of the M5 are based on the design of the 5 series on which it is based, almost all components are new. The M5 also features a variable M differential lock that offers a high level of driving stability and traction, especially when accelerating out of high-speed corners. Stopping power in the M5 is also enhanced by a high performance braking system with cross-drilled ventilated discs and twin-piston callipers. This braking system, in combination with the lightweight materials incorporated in the 1,755kgs car, ensures that the M5 decelerates from 62mph to zero in just 36 metres or 124mph to zero is reached in 140 metres.

Visually, compared to the 5-series ‘donor’ saloon, the new M5 has modified front and rear aprons and side sills and, for the first time on an M5, the front wings now incorporate an air duct, which helps keep the engine bay cool during operation, plus there is a new door mirror design. Wider wheelarches house the exclusive 19-inch M5 wheel design while the M’s signature four tailpipes are carried over.

The redesigned M5 will be launched in Europe in January 2005, while deliveries of right-hand-drive models start in spring 2005.