BMW launches first all-wheel drive M5

BMW has introduced an all-wheel drive system into the M5 sports sedan, which is customizable to the driver’s preferences.

As BMW prepares to release the sixth generation of the high octane M5, let’s dive into what makes this newest chapter of the sports sedan extra special: M xDrive technology. The tailor-made all-wheel drive system retains classic rear-wheel characteristics while adding in loads of grip as needed, in a manner never quite done before.

“The core component of M xDrive is a central intelligence unit with M-specific software delivering integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The new drivetrain technology — making its debut on the new BMW M5 — therefore combines all of the agility and precision of standard rear-wheel drive with the supreme poise and traction of the all-wheel-drive system,” said company representative Frank van Meel.

“As a result, the new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road. And in various weather conditions, too.”

2018 BMW M5

The setup provides five available modes, depending on whether Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is active. By default, 4WD with DSC is on, which still allows a certain amount of slippage to the back wheels, but will send power up front as needed for situations such as accelerating out of a turn. For tail-happy fun, though, drivers will want to switch over to M Dynamic Mode. The rear is allowed to slip even further, capable of carrying out a controlled drift in the right environment.

M xDrive is made possible via a pairing of specific software and two mechanical components: the transfer case and the Active M Differential. The former is responsible for distributing power front to rear, the latter then balancing out forces between the two rear wheels. All of this is done with nearly zero losses.

2018 BMW M5 engine

A refined version of BMW’s 4.4-litre biturbo V8 propels the upcoming M5 and features upgraded turbochargers, better cooling and a new, lighter exhaust system. An efficient eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with paddle shifters is mated to the engine, geared to provide improved fuel economy estimated at 10.5 L/100 km in mixed city and highway use. 

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights