To mark the 30-year anniversary of the BMW M5 - the founder member of the high-performance business sedan segment - BMW has come up with an exclusive, special-edition version of the current, fifth-generation model boasting performance that sets it apart from its stablemates. The BMW M5 "30 Jahre M5" (30 years of the M5) will be produced in a limited run of 300 examples vehicles worldwide. Developing 441 kW/600 hp and peak torque of 700 Nm (516 lb-ft), the new special-edition model (fuel consumption combined: 9.9 l/100 km [28.5 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 231 g/km) is not only the most powerful BMW M5 ever to emerge from series production under the auspices of BMW M GmbH, but also the most powerful car in the history of the brand. The "30 Jahre M5" sprints from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in a lightning 3.9 seconds. Its strikingly exclusive, BMW Individual-inspired looks and numerous dynamics and comfort-enhancing equipment details make this special edition a highly desirable collector's item.
Extensive package of measures to further increase performance
Under the bonnet of the BMW M5 "30 Jahre M5" is a 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology whose output of 441 kW/600 hp exceeds that of the standard model by 29 kW/40 hp. This power boost has been achieved through carefully calculated tweaks to the engine management and an increase in charge pressure. The foundation for these upgrades was provided by the Competition Package. Conceived to appreciably enrich the handling characteristics of the BMW M5, it can be ordered as an option for the regular model and is part of the special edition's standard specification. The Competition Package comprises modifications including a revised chassis set-up with firmer spring/damper tuning and a 10-millimetre drop in ride height. Added to which, the Active M Differential on the final drive gains its own control unit to further improve traction. Elsewhere, the steering with M-specific Servotronic function has more direct mapping. And the M Dynamic Mode of the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system is focused even more keenly on delivering sporty handling.
The singular dynamic potency generated by these performance-enhancing measures makes the special-edition model a smile-inducing proposition, a point hammered home by its stunning 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 3.9 seconds.
BMW M5 "30 Jahre M5" catches the eye and cements itself in the memory
In keeping with the anniversary celebrations which have inspired its creation, the special-edition model has been given the BMW Individual treatment. As a result, it cuts an even more dynamic, head-turning figure than its standard-specification siblings. Much of the credit here goes to the use of the striking BMW Individual paint shade Frozen Dark Silver metallic. This softly shimmering matt finish accentuates the elegantly muscular forms of the BMW M5 in particularly impressive fashion. The kidney grille surround, gills with "30 Jahre M5" badge on the front wing, door handle inserts and twin exhaust tailpipes all come in black chrome, adding subtle yet effective accents to the car's appearance. The same is true of the 20-inch bi-colour M light-alloy wheels with mixed tyres (front: 265/35 ZR 20, rear: 295/30 ZR 20).
Exclusive interior exudes understated elegance and powerful dynamics
The interior of the BMW M5 "30 Jahre M5" is also focused squarely on celebrating the model's 30th anniversary. For example, the driver and front passenger will be greeted by "30 Jahre M5" lettering on the front door sill finishers, while a plaque bearing "30 Jahre M5" and "1/300" inscriptions in reference to the special edition's limited 300-unit global production run is integrated into the Aluminium Trace trim strip on the front passenger side of the cabin. The "30 Jahre M5" logo is also embroidered into the backrests of all four of the high-performance sedan's seats.
Both the driver and front passenger in the "30 Jahre M5" special edition can settle into M multifunction seats, whose wide range of electrical adjustment gives them unimpeachable standards of ergonomics and comfort. The black Alcantara/leather combination helps to ensure excellent seat comfort and a refined interior ambience, as does the Alcantara Anthracite trim of the centre console and door panels. The M sports steering wheel is likewise trimmed in Alcantara Anthracite. Among the other equipment highlights of the "30 Jahre M5" special edition is a high-end surround-sound system with a total of 16 speakers.
Customers can choose between a Harman Kardon unit with output of 600 watts and a 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen high-end surround-sound system.
In its visual impact, equipment and performance, the "30 Jahre M5" is much more than merely a stylish anniversary version of the segment-founding high-performance sedan - it represents a new high point in 30 years of success. And the story that began at BMW Motorsport GmbH in Munich in 1984 continues to raise the pulses of car fans around the world today.
1984: BMW M1 super-sports car assists in the birth of an icon
When the engineers at BMW Motorsport GmbH started work on the development of the BMW M5 in 1984, their minds were cast back to the powertrain technology of the BMW M1 super-sports car built between 1978 and 1981. The M1's 3.5-litre six-cylinder in-line engine had already seen action in the BMW M635 CSi, which celebrated its world premiere at the 1983 International Motor Show in Frankfurt. Thanks to what were now two overhead camshafts and six individual throttle butterflies, output of the four-valve-per-cylinder engine rose to 210 kW/286 hp - nine horsepower more than the BMW M1 itself. The BMW 6 Series Coupe and 5 Series Sedan shared a platform, which gave the BMW Motorsport GmbH engineers a persuasive case for transplanting the powerful four-valve unit into BMW's executive-class model. The theory became reality as work on the BMW M5 project got under way.
The launch of the new car in summer 1985 heralded the creation of a new market niche: the high-performance sedan segment. The BMW M5 duly usurped the BMW M535i - available with 160 kW/218 hp, 141 kW/192 hp (with catalytic converter preparation) or 136 kW/185 hp (with catalytic converter fitted) and only introduced a few months earlier itself - as the most powerful member of the 5 Series family. Intriguingly, the BMW M5 was a picture of understatement alongside the M535i, which flaunted generously sized spoilers and an array of other aerodynamic addenda. Only the larger wheel/tyre combination, slight drop in ride height and discreet badge for the radiator grille and boot lid set it apart from its series-produced siblings.
Once the driver turned the key, however, the BMW M5 blew away all sense of restraint: its time of 6.5 seconds for the sprint from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) and a top speed of 245 km/h (152 mph) were almost unimaginable figures for the time. Sports suspension, a rear axle differential lock and brakes with larger, stronger discs at each corner were employed to handle the car's elevated dynamic potential. Added to the mix were Michelin TRX tyres in 220/55 VR 390 format, whose construction helped to keep the tyre casing on the rim in the event of pressure loss. This TRX technology can therefore be considered a precursor to today's puncture-proof run-flat tyres.
More than 2,200 examples of the hand-built first-generation BMW M5 had left the BMW Motorsport GmbH halls in Munich by the time production came to an end in late 1987.
Second generation with two output variants, now also available in Touring guise
The second-generation BMW M5 unveiled in August 1988 represented the seamless continuation of a highly successful opening chapter in the model's history. The new model extracted 232 kW/315 hp from its further developed six-cylinder engine, whose capacity had been increased by 80 cc (to 3,535 cc) and which now included exhaust gas treatment via a catalytic converter. The result was 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 6.3 seconds on the way to a limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
When it came to styling, the flagship 5 Series model continued its understated theme. The "M5" logos at the front and rear, larger exhaust tailpipes and a 20-millimetre lower ride height were pretty much the only outward signs that here stood the "Ã¼ber 5 Series". Added to which, 17-inch tyres were fitted as standard for the first time on a BMW. Its interior flagged up the differences between this car and less fabled versions of the 5 Series rather more vividly, thanks to front sports seats and the clearly moulded individual seats in the rear.
In late 1991, by which time 8,079 examples had been sold, the BMW M5 was given an extensive engine update. Displacement increased to 3.8 litres and output to 250 kW/340 hp, allowing the Sedan to breach the six-second barrier for 0-100 km/h (62 mph) with a time of 5.9 seconds. The engine electronics once again called a halt to proceedings at 250 km/h (155 mph). Also new to the BMW M5's arsenal was Adaptive M suspension, which was based on the Electronic Damper Control (EDC) system. And for customers keen to enjoy even greater handling agility, BMW offered a "NÃ¼rburgring suspension package" consisting of a larger rear anti-roll bar, wide 255/40 tyres for the rear axle, Servotronic sports steering and, most notably, a switchable sports setting for the damping force adjustment.
Another treat was to follow a short time later, when BMW Motorsport GmbH introduced a very special model variant to the line-up: the BMW M5 Touring. Likewise the product of sumptuous handcraftsmanship, the technology and performance of this "power estate" largely mirrored those of the Sedan. In 1994, as part of a continuous process of optimisation, the BMW M5 welcomed additions including a six-speed manual gearbox and compound brakes - a nigh-on revolutionary feature for the time. The multi-component discs with anti-friction bearings could expand freely when they heated up, allowing them to avoid the juddering caused by discs deformed by heat. Compound brakes also had the advantage of a longer service life and lower weight. Around 12,000 examples of the BMW M5 - including just under 900 Touring models - were sold between 1988 and 1995.
1998: Farewell to the straight-six engine
The BMW M5 took to the stage in autumn 1998 in its third generation following a three-year break. Gone was the six-cylinder engine under the bonnet of its predecessor, to be replaced by a 4.9-litre V8 developing 294 kW/400 hp. With design details such as strikingly formed exterior mirror housing and two sets of twin exhaust tailpipes, the new M5 adopted clear visual cues from the Z3-based BMW M Roadster launched three years earlier and the closely related BMW M Coupe.
Among the features the high-performance sedan borrowed from the BMW M3 - alongside map-controlled Double-VANOS and hydraulic valve play compensation - was a quasi-dry sump lubrication system. A pressure pump and two suction pumps ensured optimum oil supply to the engine, even when driving on the edge. It also featured a mechanical differential lock with 25 per cent locking action for improved traction. The car's bare performance figures - 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.3 seconds and an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) - signalled the dynamic potential on offer. The pulling power of the V8 engine was similarly impressive; peak torque of 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) ensured the BMW M5 needed just 4.8 seconds to accelerate from 80 to 120 km/h (50 - 75 mph) in fourth gear. Entrusted with keeping the engine's raw power in check were compound brake discs. Having made their debut on the front wheels of the previous-generation M5, here they were fitted front and rear.
By spring 2003 some 20,500 customers had signed for a BMW M5 with V8 engine. The third generation of the high-performance sedan was therefore not only the highest-selling M5 to date, it had also reminded the world yet again of its stand-out status and leading position in the segment it founded.
2005: Roaring into new dimensions with a high-revving V10
The new incarnation of the BMW M5 had everything it needed to write the next chapter in the model's increasingly illustrious history. With 10 cylinders now tucked under the bonnet, the fourth-generation BMW M5 set a new milestone for powertrain technology in the high-performance sedan segment. With 5-litre displacement, output of 507 hp and 520 Nm (384 lb-ft) of torque, the M5 was the most powerful series-produced car in the entire BMW model family. Specific output of 100 hp per litre of displacement meant this was an engine that could handle itself in race competition. The esteem in which the BMW M5's engine was held around the world was highlighted by back-to-back overall wins in the prestigious Engine of the Year Awards in 2005 and 2006. This was the first time in the history of the awards that the same engine had won the overall title two years in succession. And the V10 followed up its achievement with victory in the "Above 4-litre" category in both 2007 and 2008.
The 10-cylinder engine linked up as standard with a seven-speed Sequential M Gearbox to fire the fourth-generation M5 from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.7 seconds. The speedometer needle surged past 200 km/h (124 mph) in 15 seconds and only stopped at 250 km/h (155 mph) when the electronics intervened. A quick dab of the Power button on the centre console was required to summon up the engine's full output, the electronics having released just 400 hp in a comfort-biased default setting when the engine was started.
In 2007 the M5 model family once again swelled to include an estate variant. The BMW M5 Touring made light of its extra 100 kilograms to achieve a similarly high dynamic level to the Sedan, as its 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.8 seconds confirmed.
BMW sold 20,548 units of the fourth-generation BMW M5 up to summer 2010, 1,025 of which were Touring versions. This meant the 10-cylinder car just exceeded the production figures recorded by its predecessor.
The return to a V8 engine for the fifth generation
The current BMW M5, launched in 2011, is once again available exclusively in Sedan form and again has a V8 engine providing the power, with M TwinPower Turbo technology helping the 4.4-litre unit develop 412 kW/560 hp. Working in tandem with the seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission, Active M Differential at the rear axle and model-specific chassis technology tuned precisely to the car's performance characteristics using race-honed expertise, the high-revving engine delivers stand-out dynamic performance.
Since the latest round of model enhancements arrived in summer 2013, owners have been able to sharpen the performance characteristics of their M5 further still by selecting the optional Competition Package. This brings various chassis and powertrain modifications and a power boost for the high-revving V8 engine to 423 kW/575 hp. The sprint from 0-100 km/h (62 mph), for example, is all over in 4.3 seconds instead of 4.4 seconds. Meanwhile, the 250 km/h (155 mph) electronically governed top speed available with the Competition Package can be raised to 305 km/h (189 mph) if the optional M Driver's Package is specified. Since March 2013, moreover, customers have been able to specify even more robust and effective M Carbon ceramic brakes as an option.