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The new £110,500 BMW M5 is a 717bhp plug-in hybrid that weighs as much as a Bentley

Latest M5 keeps a twin-turbo V8 and gains electric range – at a 2.4-tonne price

Published: 25 Jun 2024

A new BMW M5 is always An Event. It’s exactly 40 years since the first ever M5 invented the super-saloon, and in all that time (and seven generations to date) there hasn’t been a duff M5. Maybe not all were class-leaders, but you’d struggle to find a more consistently excellent badge in the car universe.

But there’s lots about the new M5 that’s controversial. Does it look special enough? Is it too heavy? And was adding a plug-in hybrid powertrain the right call?

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Let’s begin with the looks. This is not a caricature German uber-express like the wide-body Audi RS6. The front track has swelled by 75mm and the rear by 48mm, but the M5 lacks the butch shoulders of an M3. All the usual M5 trademarks are here though: furious intakes, quad exhausts, and a bootlid spoiler lip. You’d call it subtle, if the semi-blanked kidney grilles didn’t light up like Coldplay gig wristbands.

As standard, you get a sunroof, but spec a carbon pack and the roof turns to CFRP, along with the door mirrors, shaving off 34kg. Ceramic brakes are also optional, and save 20kg. You might want to tick those boxes, because the new M5 is a massively heavy thing. At a claimed 2,435kg, it weighs as much as a Bentley Flying Spur.

It weighs that much because it’s inevitably bigger than the old M5, and because it now houses a battery. An 18.6kWh one under the floor, which contains enough power for a claim of up to 43 miles of all-electric running, thanks to a 194bhp motor housed within the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Is anyone going to spend £110,500 on an ultimate M car just to attempt a whole commute on battery power? We doubt it. The electric element will come into play when it’s teamed up with the bi-turbo 4.4-litre V8, to deliver a combined 717bhp and 1000Nm (737lb ft) of torque.

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Huge numbers. But because it’s so heavy, the new M5 is actually a little bit slower than the old M5 Competition. New one: 3.5sec from 0-62mph. The previous-gen Comp did it in 3.3 seconds.

Flat out, it’s limited to 155mph if you don’t tick a box, or almost 190mph if you do. Determined to only use the battery? Top speed on electric is 87mph.

As you’d expect in an M car these days, power is sent to all four wheels. However, unlike the hideous XM with which the new M5 shares its basic powertrain, you can choose to send some, most or even all the power to the rear wheels.

There’s also multi-stage stability control, rear-wheel steering, triple-mode adaptive suspension, three gearshift speeds, multiple steering weights and brake pedal sensitivities to sample, and that’s before you get to the ‘M Hybrid’ settings.

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This sub-menu (in the touchscreen, naturally) allows you to choose how the car deploys its e-boost. Saved for later, spread thinly, or dumped out in one walloping quali-lap? The choices are yours. The choices are endless.

There are a smattering of shortcut keys next to the iDrive clickwheel for these all-important menus, but once you’ve chosen your favourite settings you can at least save two different M5 moods into the M1 and M2 cat’s-tongue buttons on the steering wheel. Which is still thicker than an England supporter’s neck.

Inside there’s more ambient lighting than Blackpool and seats which major more on comfort than the almost sadist support M’s carbon bucket chairs offer, because apparently M5 buyers want something easier to climb into and out of, we’re told.

Still with us? Thanks – here’s more M5 nuggets. The battery juices up in three and a half hours on a 7.4kW charger, but you won’t do that because you’ll just tell the V8 to charge it instead, and take the monster fuel economy hit. We’re promised a sporty augmented ‘IconicSound’ when running in electric mode. And if you’re thinking “Oi Top Gear, where’s my M5 Touring”… then that comes in a couple of months. Sit tight.

And in the meantime, grace us with your thoughts in the comments. Is this the most controversial M5 ever?

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