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The seventh-generation BMW 5-Series made its debut late last year, but today, we finally get to see the model one we've been waiting for. Here it is, the mighty M5. A car we've already driven in prototype form that brings big changes to BMW M's longest-running and much-beloved model.

Let's cut right to the chase: for the first time ever, this M5 comes with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. But don't get apprehensive about that. They promise great things.
 

The M5's all-wheel drive system is called M xDrive, and it allows for fully variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles. Primarily, it sends most of its power to the rear wheels, only diverting some to the front when its needed. Except in 2WD mode. Yes, the M5 offers a setting that disconnects the front axle entirely, turning it into a crazy drift machine.

If you want to get the tail out while still having some all-wheel drive traction, the M5 offers a 4WD Sport mode that allows some slip at the rear axle. On paper at least, M xDrive a lot like the Mercedes-AMG E63's 4Matic+ system, but we'll have to drive the two back-to-back to see how they really compare.

 

 

 

The previous two generations of M5 were offered with optional dual-clutch transmissions, but this one is getting an eight-speed automatic with a proper torque converter. There is no manual option.

This transmission will lock out its torque converter once you've pulled away from a stop for quicker response. As in the previous M5, this gearbox offers three shift mapping selections for different driving scenarios.

 

The new M5's engine is a development of the old model's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that now offers 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. That motor combined with the M5's new all-wheel drive system and automatic gearbox results in silly fast acceleration. Sixty mph comes up in 3.2 seconds and 124 mph arrives in 11.1. Top speed, when equipped with the optional M Driver's Package, is 189 mph.

And despite offering all-wheel drive, this new M5 is actually slightly lighter than the last previous-gen version we tested. The old M5 weighed 4300 lbs on our scales, while BMW says the new one weighs 4255 lbs. Not light, but impressive considering it now has a driveshaft going to the front axle.

 

 

 

Carbon ceramic brakes are optional, and they save 50 lbs of unsprung weight over the standard units. The M5's roof is made from carbon fiber and BMW says the exhaust has been "weight optimized" too.

Inside, there's all the leather you'd expect from a new 5-Series and more supportive seats specific to this model. You've probably also noticed the two red buttons on the steering wheel too: Those allow you to preset two driving modes.

 

Even though this M5 represents a big departure, we were very impressed when we drove a prototype earlier this year. It injects some much-needed fun back into the M5 name, despite it being more tech-heavy than ever.

 

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