The first mouthwatering details of the new F90 BMW M5 have been revealed ahead of its official unveiling later this year. The benchmark sports sedan has been fundamentally altered under the skin in the face of new competition from the likes of the W213 Mercedes-AMG E 63.

For a start, the M5 will now feature all-wheel drive for the first time in its 33-year history, in order to harness the high levels of power and torque from the revised 4.4 litre twin-turbocharged V8. The M xDrive system, as it is called, carries M-specific software with integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics.

In essence, the system is rear-biased, with drive only sent to the front wheels if it senses the rear wheels are overwhelmed. This is in its default 4WD setting; the Dynamic Stability Control’s (DSC) halfway-house M Dynamic Mode (MDM) engages the 4WD Sport mode with an increased rear bias, allowing the M5 to go into a controlled slide with a linear increase in slip angle in conjunction with the more lenient MDM.

Spy-Shots of Cars
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Like the E 63, the M5 can lock out the all-wheel drive system, turning it into a full rear-wheel drive drift monster. Unlike the Mercedes, however, you don’t actually have to be in a drift mode to activate the 2WD setting, although DSC still needs to be fully switched off to do so. Of course, there’s still the rear locking Active M Differential that allows you to pull off big skids.

Revisions to the aforementioned engine include higher injection pressure, new turbochargers, more powerful lubrication and cooling systems and a lighter exhaust system. Outputs have yet to be revealed, but expect the final figures to hover around 600 hp and over 700 Nm.

Mated to this is a new eight-speed M Steptronic automatic gearbox with Drivelogic, ditching the outgoing seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Munich claims that the new unit has smooth start-off and improved manoeuvrability thanks to the torque converter, as well as a wide ratio spread to improve fuel economy. As before, there are three shift programs to choose from, along with paddle shifters.

All of this will enable the new M5 to accelerate appreciably quicker than its predecessor, according to BMW. The company was coy to give out a specific zero-to-100 km/h sprint time, but provided a ballpark of under 3.5 seconds, nearly a whole second quicker than the outgoing F10.


GALLERY: F90 BMW M5 spyshots