2018 BMW M5 scores switchable AWD

The new 2018 BMW F90 M5 will be all-wheel drive, but only when you want it to be.

Following the path first trodden by its main rival, the Mercedes-AMG E63 S, the all-new M5 uses a switchable all-wheel drive system, allowing for maximum traction but also the ability to haze the rear tyres in time-honoured fashion should you want to.

2018 BMW M5 rear driftKey to this ability is the new M xDrive system, which uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch within the transfer case to apportion torque front and rear depending on wheel slip or shut off front drive altogether.

This works in conjunction with the traditional electronically-controlled rear M differential, which now uses carbon plates.

2018 BMW M5 corneringThe default mode with DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) on is 4WD, which maximises traction but still retains some rear bias. Selecting the M Dynamic mode for the DSC enables 4WD Sport, which takes advantage of the electronics’ greater leniency with greater rear bias.

Finally, switching the DSC completely off allows the driver to select from 4WD, 4WD Sport or 2WD. The driver’s preferred mode can also be saved along with a favourite combination of settings for the suspension, powertrain, steering and DSC with the M1 and M2 buttons.

2018 BMW M5 screenBMW is remaining tight-lipped about any concrete details for the F90 M5, with its first public appearance scheduled for the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show to be held in September.

The recently-deceased M5’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 remains, albeit heavily revised with higher injection pressure, new turbochargers, new cooling and lubrication systems and a new exhaust, with BMW sources saying the new car sounds much better than the old.

Power is expected to be in the 450kW/700Nm region, which combined with a new eight-speed automatic – replacing the old seven-speed dual-clutch – and lighter kerb weight should slash the 0-100km/h time to around 3.5sec.

We’ll have a first drive of the BMW F90 M5 prototype in the July issue of MOTOR magazine.

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