BMW has announced first details of the forthcoming BMW M5, the most powerful BMW road car ever built.

The new BMW M5 is powered by a normally aspirated five-litre V10 engine – a first for BMW – with the two five-cylinder banks arranged at a 90-degree angle. Redlined at 8,250rpm, the 507bhp and 520Nm (383lb/ft) of torque propels the car from zero to 62mph in 4.7 seconds and to 124mph in 15 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Without the limiter, the new M5 would be capable of 205mph. These figures mean the new M5 can lap the infamous ‘Nordschleife’ at the Nürburgring in approximately eight minutes.

This performance is thanks, in part, to the bi-VANOS variable valve timing and individual throttle butterflies fitted to the new car. Ensuring an optimum charge from every combustion cycle these features increase performance, flexibility and responsiveness, offer gains in fuel consumption and emissions figures and ensure the car exceeds EU4 standards.

Power is transmitted through a seven-speed sequential gearbox with Drivelogic, changing gears 20 per cent faster than the previous generation SMG transmission. The gearbox offers eleven different change patterns, six of which allow the driver to vary the speed and response of gear change in the manual selection mode and five in the automatic mode. The sixth pattern in manual is reserved for the Launch Control function, giving the driver the fastest possible acceleration from standstill.

The new M5 also features a new DSC traction control system specifically developed for the car, offering three settings. By pressing the DSC button once, the car reverts to M Dynamic Mode to allow the driver to push the M5 further, permitting some sideslip and countersteering. If the DSC button is pressed again and held down, DSC is completely disengaged.

The M5 also comes with an MDrive button on the steering wheel, offering a one-touch function that changes the settings on the car to an enhanced sporting character. This set-up is formatted via iDrive with the owner choosing the preferred SMG, Electronic Damper Control and DSC modes and, if specified, the rate of support the Active Seat Control side bolsters offer. Once programmed, the driver just presses the MDrive button on the steering wheel to transform the character of the M5.

The function of the standard fit Head-up Display is also altered when the MDrive button is activated. The default setting sees speed, navigation instructions, check control messages and cruise control settings projected onto the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. However, if MDrive is activated the display changes to a rev counter including vehicle speed that both flash at the driver when the next gear needs to be selected.

While the chassis, suspension and steering of the M5 are based on the design of the 5 Series, many components are new. The M5 also features a variable M differential lock that offers greater stability and traction, especially when accelerating out of high-speed corners. Stopping power in the M5 is also enhanced by a new braking system with cross-drilled ventilated discs and twin-piston callipers. This braking system, in combination with the lightweight materials incorporated in the 1,755kgs car, ensures that the M5 decelerates from 62mph to zero in just 36 metres or 124mph to zero is reached in 140 metres.

Visually, the new M5 has modified front and rear aprons and side sills, front wings that incorporate an air duct to help keep the engine bay cool, and a new door mirror design. Wider wheelarches house the 19-inch M5 wheels while four tailpipes alert drivers behind to the potential of the car in front.

The BMW M5 will be launched in Europe in January 2005, while deliveries of right-hand-drive models in the UK start in spring 2005.