Lineage: BMW M5

Howling straight six, thundering V8, banshee V10 or fizzing turbochargers… which one’s your favourite M5? NamWheels brings you the ancestry of one of Germany’s best performance sedans.  

E28 M5

1984 – 1988

The very first M5 used BMW’s famous in-line six-cylinder engine with 24 valves, 3.5-litre displacement and individual throttle bodies. This race-proven motor sent up to 286bhp or 340Nm via a crisp 5-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels of the M5 saloon.

That meant a 0-100km/h sprint time of around 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 245 km/h (152 mph). Not only are those highly respectable values for the mid 80’s, they also made this first M5 the fastest four-door production sedan of its time.

  • 3,453cc / 211ci i-6 (M88/3 or S38*) with individual throttle bodies (x6)
  • 10.5:1 compression ratio, 93.4mm bore x 84mm stroke
  • 210kW (286bhp) @ 6,500rpm, 340Nm @ 4,500rpm
  • Cast iron block, aluminium cylinder head
  • 5-speed manual, RWD
  • 4-door sedan, 1410kg

E34 M5

1988 – 1995

For the second-generation M5, BMW Motorsport GmbH slightly increased the engine’s capacity and piston stroke. The resulting increase to 315bhp (and 360Nm torque) saw this version of the M5 hit the magic 250 km/h (150 mph) mark.

Engine capacity was increased again in 1992 (but not in southern Africa) which took maximum power to 340 hp. Around that time, BMW also introduced a Touring estate (station wagon) version of the M5 for the first time.

  • 3,535cc / 216ci i-6 petrol (S38) with individual throttle bodies (x6)
  • 9.8:1 compression ratio, 93.4mm bore x 86mm stroke
  • 232kW (315bhp) @ 6,900rpm, 360Nm @ 4,750rpm
  • Cast iron block, aluminium cylinder head
  • 5 or 6-speed manual, RWD
  • 4-door sedan or estate, 1745kg

E39 M5

1998 – 2003

The third edition of BMW’s famous M5 received a thundering V8 engine which, in true BMW M GmbH tradition, was a high-compression, high-revving motor fed by individual throttle bodies. This all-alloy power unit developed a fantastic 400bhp and up to 500Nm of torque.

All this was sent – as always – to the rear wheels via a crisp six-speed manual gearbox. The E39 M5’s top speed was electronically limited to 250km/h and 0-100km/h took 5.3 seconds.

  • 4,941cc / 302ci V8 petrol (S62) with individual throttle bodies (x8)
  • All-aluminium construction (engine block and cylinder heads)
  • 11.0:1 compression ratio, 94mm bore x 89mm stroke
  • 294kW (400bhp) @ 6,600rpm, 500Nm @ 3,800rpm
  • 4-door sedan or estate, 1795kg
  • 6-speed manual, RWD

E60 M5

2005 – 2010

By the mid 2000’s, the German horsepower wars were in full swing and BMW retaliated against the likes of Audi’s RS6 and the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG with the V10-powered E60 version of their famous M5 sedan. There were a few estate version as well, mind you.

With a lofty compression ratio of 12 to 1, those infamous individual throttle butterflies and a comparatively short stroke allowed the naturally-aspirated S85 V10 to turn petrol into spine-tingling howls (and up to 507bhp) at a dizzy 7,750 rpm. The fourth-generation M5 could reach 100km/h in only 4.7 seconds and march on to the agreed limit of 250km/h. However, discerning customers could order the M Driver’s Package which raised the top speed of this powerful sedan (or estate) to 305 km/h (189 mph).

The E60 M5 also developed 520Nm or torque, albeit at a very high 6,100rpm, which was sent to the rear wheels by a seven-speed SMG automated gearbox. Some US versions were also available with a six-speed manual transmission.

  • 4,999cc / 305ci V10 petrol (S85) with individual throttle bodies (x10)
  • All-aluminium construction (engine block and cylinder heads)
  • 12.0:1 compression ratio, 92mm bore x 75.2mm stroke
  • 373kW (507bhp) @ 7,750rpm, 520Nm @ 6,100rpm
  • 4-door sedan (1,855kg) or estate (1,955kg)
  • 6-speed manual* or 7-speed SMG, RWD

F10 M5

2011 – 2016

Generation five of the BMW M5 was the first to use turbo-charging, an outrageous move for the makers of high-revving, naturally-breathing masterpieces. Obviously, this S63 engine trumped every predecessor with amazing low-down torque and superior (average) fuel consumption.

Using a “hot vee” with dual twin-scroll turbochargers, maximum power of this 4.4L power plant was a colossal 560bhp with up to 680Nm of torque going to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (or a six-speed manual in the USA). This meant that 0-100km/h was dealt with in a supercar-scaring 4.3 seconds and top speeds up to 315km/h.

For the first time ever, BMW also offered a Competition Pack (with 575bhp) and other special editions which had power outputs of up to 600bhp.

  • 4.4L / 269ci V8 turbo-petrol (S63) with two twin-scroll turbochargers
  • All-aluminium construction (engine block and cylinder heads)
  • 10.0:1 compression ratio, 89mm bore x 88.3mm stroke
  • 412kW (560bhp) @ 6,000rpm, 680Nm from 1,500rpm
  • 6-speed manual* or 7-speed DSG, RWD
  • 4-door sedan (1,990kg)
  • Competition Pack: 423kW (575hp) to 441kW (600hp) and 700Nm

F90 M5

2018 –

The latest (F90) BMW M5is a soft evolution from the preceding model which uses the same S63 motor but with increased power outputs of around 600bhp. With many small refinements (including a reduced overall weight), the current M5 uses a traditional but sport-tuned eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Torque figures were also bumped up to maximum twisting force of 750Nm from 1,500rpm onwards. For the first time in its illustrious history, the fast BMW sedan is offered with all-wheel-drive. A Competition Pack option takes power outputs to 627bhp with torque remaining the same as in the regular version.

  • 4.4L / 269ci V8 turbo-petrol (S63) with two twin-scroll turbochargers
  • All-aluminium construction (engine block and cylinder heads)
  • 10.0:1 compression ratio, 89mm bore x 88.3mm stroke
  • 441kW (600bhp) @ 6,000rpm, 750Nm from 1,500rpm
  • 8-speed automatic, RWD or AWD
  • 4-door sedan (1,855kg)
  • Competition Pack: 460kW (627bhp)

* In the USA

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