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2018 BMW M5: 600 Horsepower, All-Wheel Drive, and 189 MPH!

In 1979, Americans watched a total solar eclipse pass over the continental United States. Eight years later, another phenomenon crossed our paths: the first BMW M5. It was rare, it was heroic, and most of all, it was a four-door sedan that, at the height of the horsepower-robbing 1980s, could outgun Corvettes and Ferraris. For 2018, the G30-based M5 is once again a rolling NASA space station of computers and sensors propelled by a force-fed V-8. That should sound impressive, except that two-ton luxury sedans that accelerate to 60 mph as hard as a McLaren F1 are now normal, everyday occurrences. If it seems as if the latest M5 won’t warp space-time anymore, well, blame the Dodge Charger Hellcat and the Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Unlike the regular 5-series, the 2018 M5 is more of a revolution than its sheetmetal suggests. It’s the first M5 with all-wheel drive and without an option for a manual transmission. BMW’s M xDrive is rear biased and funnels torque through an electronically controlled limited-slip differential similar to those on the X5 M and X6 M SUVs. In the M5, though, the system can disconnect the front axle for true rear-wheel-drive hooliganism that, from our brief experience in a prototype, makes this 4350-pound (our estimate) lug feel like an E90 M3. Even in regular mode, the all-wheel-drive setup will allow the rears to slip slightly for douchebag-safe maneuvers on public streets. In 4WD Sport with the stability control set to M Dynamic, slip angles widen, and more torque routes to the active (but non-torque-vectoring) rear differential. For those times when you really want to burn through the last 1/32 of tread, the M5’s stability control is fully defeatable in rear-wheel-drive mode.

All that tire smoke comes courtesy of the familiar S63 twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, fortified with 24.0 psi of boost and increased capacity of the direct-injection system. More efficient intercoolers, a revised oil pump, and a new exhaust manifold spring the twin-scroll turbos into immediate action. The net result is 600 horsepower (identical to the final special editions of the F10 M5) and 553 lb-ft of torque (up 37 lb-ft), a peak that is maintained from 1800 rpm to the power peak at 5700 rpm (550 revs sooner than the 30 Jahre M5). Those ratings might have been shocking a decade earlier but now are the minimum the M5 needs against the 605-hp Audi RS7, the 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E63, the 550-hp Porsche Panamera Turbo, the 640-hp Cadillac CTS-V, and the 707-hp Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. But with an estimated zero-to-60-mph time of 3.2 seconds and a claimed 189-mph top speed with the optional M Driver’s package, the new M5 will positively shear the doors off the accountant’s 530i, shred the comptroller’s 540i, and melt the lawyer’s M550i. Corporate America has never been fiercer.