BMW M5 2024 Prototype Review | First Drive

The M5 goes hybrid with a crushing combination of turbocharged V8 power, an electrified boost and some dizzyingly complex tech...

26th June
Dan Trent


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Over seven generations the BMW M5 has come a long way from its original combination of delicately understated looks and throttle-bodied straight-six. Since then we’ve had musclular V8s, screaming V10s, turbos, the arrival of all-wheel drive and now this, the first hybrid version.

Forget tree-hugging notions of social responsibility or wokeness, though. It may be a little more reserved than the XM with which it shares the fundamentals of its powertrain but this is still a car unapologetically built to go as fast as possible, electrification here used to boost the power of the already mighty twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 to an astounding 727PS (535kW) and 1,000Nm (737lb ft) of torque, making the tarmac tremble through a combination of variable all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and more driving modes than you can shake a stick at.

Ready and waiting to make its global debut at the 2024 Festival of Speed but we got to drive the all new M5 in prototype form a few weeks before at the scarily fast Salzburgring for a taste of what’s coming. Best buckle up.

We Like

  • Pays lip service to electrification
  • Is still an M5 at heart
  • Brutal power, speed and handling

We Don't Like

  • Too heavy
  • Too complex
  • Arguably just too much, full stop


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The M5 has always traded on ‘if you know you know’ subversion of whichever generation of 5 Series it happens to be based on and it’s business as usual for this new one. Which is good news if the brashness of the new-school BMW XM you could have for the same £110,000 has you reaching for the sick bucket. There’s a Touring version coming too but, in the saloon form we drove it in, it sticks to tradition of quietly beefed up looks.

Fat rubber on 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels pack out rolled arches, the stance is unmistakeably purposeful and the bespoke front bumper has bigger vents to feed the turbos and cool the hardworking powertrain, running gear and brakes. Which, it turns out, is needed.

Carbon details inevitably feature while – hallelujah – proper quad pipes jut from the rear bumper. “Of course we have real exhausts,” grins product manager (and former N24 class winner) Daniela Schmid. “We have a real engine!”

Performance and Handling

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Lots of performance, lots of handling. And lots of modes making the most of both. A bewildering array, in fact, which made us glad the BMW team had preconfigured two ‘best of’ combinations on the familiar M hotkeys on the steering wheel. A pity traffic jams en route to the track meant we didn’t have time to really interrogate how they’d set them up, our instructions being to leave the pitlane in hybrid mode, do two laps in M1, two in a more focused M2 setting and then a cool down lap – the need for which subsequently became very apparent.

Jumping into the car blind and trying to keep up with the rather senior pace set by BMW M’s development head Dirk Häcker was perhaps a blessing of sorts, given it reduced the distraction of trying to figure out how the M5 was doing what it was doing. The attempt at the simple explanation starts with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 itself putting out 585PS (430kW) and connected to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with an integrated electric motor. Working together they then deploy their combined 727PS (535kW) and 1,000Nm (737lb ft) through all four wheels in a split varying according to which of the various modes you’ve selected. Or just the rear ones, if you’re willing to swallow a brave pill and fully disengage the DSC. Seemingly our M2 mode used the more rear-biased 4WD Sport setting, the hybrid system also having a selection of modes up to and including Dynamic for maximum combined power and even Dynamic Plus for ‘qualifying’ laps. You also get the choice of two brake pedal modes, adaptive damping and active four-wheel steering. All of which were required when Dirk decided to forgo the cooldown lap for another hot one for the hell of it, braking so hard in his BMW M4 CS for the chicane we could see plumes of brake dust erupting from his wheels. All of which was too much for the M5’s hard working carbon ceramics, the next hairpin revealing a hidden third brake pedal mode that saw it disappearing to the carpet and a somewhat tense moment as a combination of Armco, trees and Dirk’s M4 suddenly got very big in the windscreen.

4.4-litre turbocharged V8 727PS @ 5,600rpm

Up to that point the M5’s on track performance was as mighty as the looks and stats would suggest. With all that combined output going through the same transmission and the motor filling in any gaps that may linger from the turbocharging the delivery is more consistent and exploitable than you might expect for a car of this weight and complexity. Turn-in with that four-wheel steering makes it feel half the size it is and even flooring the gas on corner exit can’t unsettle the tyres, the all-wheel drive delivering a delightfully rear-balanced slingshot of traction and relentless acceleration, the sense of speed accentuated by the proximity of trees and fences along the Salzburgring’s rising and curving back ‘straight’. The only moment the suspension loses its composure comes with an eye-widening bounce of fully loaded outside wheels over a kerb on a cresting left-hand kink somewhere north of 120mph but we can put that one down to poor line choice on the part of your humble correspondent, the M5 otherwise gripping and going more like an M3 than a 2.5-tonne mega saloon.

Absolutely none of which will be of much relevance to owners back out there in the real world. If that’s you, take heart in the fact you’ll be able to travel as far as 40 miles or so and at speeds of up to 87mph (where legal and all that) on electric power alone, smug in the knowledge you’re officially chucking out just 36g/km of CO2. A reality check on that score meanwhile lurks in the smaller print on the spec sheet, the claimed best case 176.6mpg dropping to a still rather optimistic sounding 27.7mpg once the battery has depleted. But, hey, you’ll still score those favourable BIK numbers so who cares!


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Given the cabin of the car we drove was draped in prototype camo, the bits you interacted with were bound in black electrical tape and we were rather distracted at the intensity of the on-track pace, first impressions of the interior are limited to what we could see from a sneak peek at an undisguised car in a closed off pit garage. But as you’d expect, it’s all basically 5 Series-plus in there, with BMW’s impressive curved double screen display powered by the latest 8.5 iteration of the slick and proven iDrive operating system. With a few extra M bits for good measure.

We’ll say the seating position felt rather lofty compared with the M3 CS we’d just swapped from, rather diminishing whatever sporty vibes have been contrived through the lashings of carbon trim and expensively squishy Merino leather you’ll get on production versions. Blame the need to house the batteries in the related BMW i5 for that.

Technology and Features

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Perhaps of more relevance for the 99.9 per cent of the time you’ll not be driving your M5 until the brakes catch fire, BMW has packed it with all the tech and luxury you’d hope for over and above what you’d get on a top spec 5 Series. Model specific driving modes included in the M Drive Professional comprise a lap timer and Track Mode, along with specific modes for the hybrid system and more.

The standard specification includes a Bowers & Wilkins sound system best savoured in silent electric mode, four-zone climate control, clever interior lighting in the shape of the BMW Interaction Bar (in M colours, naturally) and its animated welcome and farewell displays.

Augmented nav and all manner of clever features abound in the proven infotainment system, with the option to interact via voice or gesture as you choose. Grouchy technophobes (guilty as charged) can take heart BMW is also sticking with buttons for the basics like volume and ventilation.


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As intimidating in its complexity as it is its electrically boosted power output the new M5 is an absolute beast of a car and more than capable of making the considerably more expensive Porsche Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid work for its lunch. Those with longer memories may not like what it has become but it’s very much a performance saloon for our times and, even with the hybrid powertrain, still feels a bit naughty.

The combination of being able to purr along city streets in electric mode with the knowledge it can also go full send on track or Autobahn simply remixes the original’s combination of sportscar power and sensible saloon looks for a new age.

True, it's all a bit much. But it’s also a wickedly fun piece of kit, set up by people who, at heart, love fast cars and driving them to the limit.


Engine 4.4-litre turbocharged V8, single integrated electric motor

727PS (535kW) @ 5,600rpm

Torque 1,000Nm (737lb ft) @ 1,800rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic, switchable all-wheel drive
Kerb weight 2,510kg
0-62mph 3.5 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited; 189mph with optional M Driver’s Package)
CO2 emissions 37-39g/km
Price From £110,500